Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking with a professional face – 6 creating strategically effective social networking profile content, part 3

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on March 22, 2011

This is my sixth posting in a series on business social networking best practices and a second on the topic of online social networking profile content (see Social Networking and Business, postings 106, 108, 109, 112 and 115 for installments one through five.) Parts four and five in this looked into a number of issues related to content provided in a business and professional social media profile, with an emphasis on business social networking through LinkedIn. In that, Part 4 focused on identifying and targeting the audiences you would market your professional skills and experience to, and Part 5 continued on to deal with issues of drafting the basic profile text, with educational and work experience background and other basic content areas.

This posting rounds out this discussion by focusing on a very important area that many professionals overlook in their business social networking – tapping into and benefiting from the range of supporting features, options and functionalities that social networking sites offer. Once again, I will focus on LinkedIn in this posting but many of the basic ideas I will touch on here would apply to other social networking sites too.

I am going to cite my own LinkedIn profile as a working example here, not because it is in any sense perfect and not because I have made universally applicable decisions with it but because I know it and I know why I have developed and presented it the way I have. So anything I say about my own profile here, view with a critical eye asking where my decisions would or would not match your needs. The real goal here is to prompt you to think through a series of issues for yourself with your own background and your own professional goals and priorities in mind.

You can find my LinkedIn profile at http://LinkedIn.com/in/TimothyPlatt. For background, I note that I prepared my profile with a dual goal of working as a consultant, but as a consultant who is willing to take on longer term assignments and even go in-house at times. I made a conscious and considered decision not to name my consulting clients in my profile with a few exceptions that I also carefully selected. I chose to focus more on the effectiveness of what I do more than on any specific skills or tasks I have worked on though I do, of course list some of that too. I have also decided that lengthy is acceptable so I have a lot of copy showing in my basic profile, as would be covered in Part 5 of this series. And you will note I also have a lot of other stuff showing.

• I use a web app that shares information on some of the events I participate in, with Marketing Hybrid Network meetings currently highlighted. This highlights at least some of the venues I attend where I would be available for face to face meetings and conversations.
• I use a web app that highlights my blog, offering excerpt text and links to my most recent five postings. Here, excerpt text is shown that I specifically drafted for use in venues like this when setting up these postings on my blog. This helps me use my blog as a marketing tool as well as a platform for sharing information as an offering of shared value.
• I am actively involved in a number of online groups and share information on them through my profile. This helps people with similar interest reach out and connect, and it can also help people find still others as they expand and extend their networking reach.
• I have seven online professional recommendations showing, and you can of course both read what others have to say about me and their online business profiles too. Online recommendations should always be taken with at least something of a grain of salt but they do offer some insight into what the person posting a profile has done where it has reached a level of excellence that would prompt notice.
• I have offered ten recommendations and show them with links to the people I have recommended. (Note: I do not simply exchange recommendations just to add to the numbers, and this disparity of numbers shows that.)
• I have filled out my Additional Information” and “Contact Settings” fields but for security reason I have chosen to leave the “Personal Information” fields such as birthday blank.
• I do show networking activity and when I connect with new networking colleagues or otherwise participate in social networking as would show through LinkedIn.
• I have posted one question and 23 answers to questions posed by others through LinkedIn and to the LinkedIn community. This is actually an important detail for me to make note of here as I was selected 11 times as offering best/expert answers and 4 for offering good answers. I make note of this as I used this tool in testing the possibility of starting a blog, to see how my writing might be received in the business community and whether I liked doing this in practice. Resources and options that you try out and use on a site like LinkedIn can help you with your due diligence almost like a prototyping and development stage testing exercise, for other types of networking and social media participation. In my case I decided to go live with a blog and this is it, rapidly approaching 600 postings in follow through.

Look at all the options and try out the ones that would make sense for you, and according to your business social networking strategy, goals and priorities. Look for the ones that would help you to more actively and positively connect with your targeted audiences as discussed in Posting 4 in this series. Look for the ones that will complement and help support the text narrative you develop to include as per Part 5 of this series. Use them to prototype and test, and discard the features that do not work for you. I note in this context that I do have a Twitter account but I do not sue it so I do not offer a link to it from my LinkedIn profile. If I do decide to go active and live on Twitter, I will add an app to my LinkedIn profile much as I have for connect from there to my blog.

And as a final thought here, there are many millions of people listed on LinkedIn. Write and post your profile to be visible to the people you need to connect with through it and use the features that will help make your profile stand out as distinctive from the crowds you compete with for visibility and attention. Use available add-on and supporting features to accomplish that, and keep monitoring activity and visits levels to your profile. Cross-channel market with it and other venues, and stay actively engaged in making all of this work for you.

I am going to look into cross-channel marketing in online social networking and social media next in this series.

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