LinkedIn As A Business Research Tool
LinkedIn is a fertile ground for those wanting to research almost any business niche or industry. Even with all its adjustments and changes over the last several years, LinkedIn still remains the most business-oriented social network, with a strong slant towards jobs and careers – as well as on networking, in the truest, most traditional sense of the word.
That’s why you want to make sure every word you put in your Profile Summary, posts or Page is focused on your business goals – no posts about puppies, babies or new bathing suits unless you are walking dogs for a living, running a Mommy Membership site or working as a fashion designer specializing in beachwear.
LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to “Friend” everybody like Facebook does. In fact, indiscriminate contacting is considered a major LinkedIn faux pas. This social network operates with contacts restricted to first, second and third level contacts… and also Group contacts.
Without diligent networking, it can take a long while to build up a solid contact base – but do avoid the typical beginner mistakes, which are:
- Adding everyone in your email accounts, past workplaces and educational institutions. Stick to those people who share or influence your interests, goals and industry only
- Recommending everyone they can – whether or not they’ve ever worked with them before
- Joining too many Groups; then not bothering to monitor or interact
- Joining Groups that are too large – or too inactive
Finding the right people on LinkedIn is a vitally important foundation to lay – so choose or accept contacts carefully and with an overall goal in mind. After all, you want to be able to monitor your business branding feedback and interaction – as well as research others.
You can manage your profile, organize your contacts – and view other data, such as how often people viewed your profile and how many times you appeared in LinkedIn Search (and whether or not this was a rising or falling trend.)
Step 1. Finding the Right People on LinkedIn
Who should you connect with on LinkedIn? The network will offer to search your friends via email accounts, previous and current workplaces, professional organizations and educational institutions first.
Only connect with those who:
- Are in related or similar careers
- Possess similar interests
- You are currently networking with in other areas of your life
- Possess skill sets you can learn from
- Are consistently active on LinkedIn
If you find someone you’d like to connect with, but you don’t know them:
a) Follow them, if you can
b) Look for someone you already know to introduce you (but make sure you have an excellent reason to want to be introduced)
c) Look for Groups they are active in. Join this Group (providing it is actually a good fit for you and your goals) and make sure you are consistently active there too.
You can invite people to become first level contacts by accessing the See who you already know on LinkedIn page.
Step 2. Using LinkedIn Searches
You can also search for likely contacts yourself. You can use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search function to set up specific criteria – both to include and exclude.
Here’s how you do it…
1. Open up Facebook Advanced Search.
2. Enter your keywords, separated by qualifiers such as “AND” and “OR”.
3. Choose from your connections at various levels – or from groups.
4. Scroll down and expand other fields that might be relevant in your search.
5. Add a location, if that is relevant.
6. Press “Search” when you have set up all your parameters.
Some of these fields won’t be available to you if you have a free account. Scroll down the left-hand, vertical menu until you see “Search like a Pro” and click “learn more”. A pop-up window will show you various filtering options upgrading will open.
You will see results in real-time; and if you have checked off connections of any sort, you will see Profile slugs, photos and summaries.
But note that you can also use LinkedIn’s simple search bar – which has recently been enhanced. (And you can Save searches.)