I like LinkedIn, but I don't see it as a silver bullet for generating consulting engagements or new business opportunities. Not by a long shot.
LinkedIn is just another tool in the consultants arsenal to develop their online presence, create momentum, and for developing and managing a network of contacts. When used well it will provide a tool for you to establish contact with significant players in several industries, demonstrate your expertise, find resources, and display your track record and reputation.
If you are part of the Consulting Pulse networking group, or just a part of the LinkedIn community, then hopefully these tips will help you to maximize its potential for your consulting career.
At all times remember the goal of LinkedIn is - marketing! And your business is a marketing business no matter what you actually do to earn money.
Your profile is like a calling card. Put it in your email address, your quotations, your sales collateral and marketing documents, business cards and anything else that clients and prospects are likely to see.
While you are part of LinkedIn take time to answer some of the questions that are being asked. Use links that are not related to your company, and start to get some recognition within the community for your areas of expertise.
Like any other marketing strategy social marketing such as this takes time, and is most effective when fueled by true sincerity. Meaning that each answer you give should be laden with value for the person that is asking the question.
Your profile also acts as a place where your online recommendations can be stored. These are fantastic! I currently have 18 recommendations for my work around the globe, and I was fortunate enough to get these from significant players in various industries.
These recommendations have been used again and again for me in my CV, my own personal websites, quotes and other marketing materials. Like anything else recommendations work best when they are sincere and from people who have true cause to recommend you. Set-ups are obvious.
LinkedIn is probably the largest source of significant industry experts and people in the globe. And for some reason when you send an email through LinkedIn - people answer you!
I have used LinkedIn to establish contact with company leaders, consulting industry experts, and others just via sending them an inmail. (As they call it) From this I have generated work, but this isn't "Old" marketing.
People aren't generally going to come to you. You need to establish contact, with your profile page already loaded with the value that you can offer, and then develop a relationship from there.
LinkedIn supports other initiatives and strategies that I engage in. For example, I am all over the news at all times. I keep track of the news relating to my clients and prospects, as well as the news and issues relating to their industries.
So when I establish contact I am able to talk to them about issues that could be affecting them at that point in time.
The Benefits of The Consulting Pulse Group
If you are in the group then you are able to search through all of the groups members for specific expertise. With 2000 people in there right now I have been able to find people who can offer advice and assistance on areas ranging from real estate investing through to sales, outsourcing and career management.
If you are a job seeker - there are plenty of hirers within the group, and if you are looking for additional resources then the group can provide you with a pool of good self motivated talent to draw from.
So thats my initial take on LinkedIn - Not a silver bullet, just part of an overall marketing strategy in the interconnected world that we now live in.