As the 12th largest global site on the Internet, and the 4th largest social networking site, LinkedIn.com is now a vital component of any professional networking or marketing strategy. When used effectively, LinkedIn can be a terrific method for capturing new customers, forming important business alliances, recruiting knowledgeable employees or contractors, and finding job opportunities.

Who’s on LinkedIn

As of January 2012, LinkedIn had more than 120 million users, and the median age for its mostly-white-collar members is 40. Patrick Hopper, VP/Publisher, Partner and Social Media Guru at OpenSystems Media in Detroit, says that the make-up of the member population is as follows:

  • Savvy networkers: At 30 percent, this group comprises the largest segment of LinkedIn users. These professionals are very knowledgeable about social media, use it frequently, and earn an average of $93,000 per year.
  • Senior executives: The second-largest segment (28 percent) are older, mostly male, conservative, and earn roughly $104,000 per year.
  • Non-actives: The third-largest segment (22 percent) are highly paid professionals, earning $88,000 per year, but are only on LinkedIn because they had friends encouraging them to be there.
  • Job hunters: The fourth-largest segment (21 percent) is mostly female, and is the youngest group of users. Interestingly, a full 70 percent of them are currently employed but open to opportunities.

With savvy networkers and senior execs making up more than half of its users, it’s clear that LinkedIn is an excellent way to get noticed by business power players, whether you’re looking for clients, vendors, a new job, or industry information.

How to Use LinkedIn

Simply throwing a profile onto LinkedIn isn’t going to make it useful. If you’re serious about leveraging LinkedIn, you need to use it consistently – remember, the majority of users are network savvy – and invest time in creating a profile that puts your best foot forward. Whether you’re looking for work, marketing your business, or forming important business connections, your profile is your resume; it represents who you are, what you know, and who you know. It should be current and updated frequently (including an up-to-date photo); it should be attention-grabbing, unique and personal. And because your LinkedIn profile enhances your searchability among your target audience, it should be full of relevant keywords.

Now you should begin to make connections with people you want to be associated with – former and current colleagues, business partners, people you’ve met at networking events or friends of friends. It’s a fantastic way to collaborate with people in your field, gather new information or tips, brand yourself as a knowledge expert in your field or gather ideas about trends in your industry. Remember that potential employers or clients may look at your connections to evaluate their quality as a measure of you, so make connections that count!

As a business owner or executive, you can use LinkedIn to evaluate potential new hires, but as a job hunter, you can reverse-check prospective managers and companies, or contact people who have worked for them to learn about the employer.

LinkedIn is also a fantastic way to get positive word of mouth, because it enables you to gather and publish recommendations from others, or solicit introductions from connections who can make positive references for you.

Additionally, you can read LinkedIn profiles to enhance face-to-face meetings, establish mutual connections or commonalities and better understand business prospects, arrange informational interviews with knowledgeable people in your chosen field, or follow up from trade show events. And when you use it to regularly update people on projects you’re currently working on, you’ll be included in LinkedIn’s weekly email blast, so that you and your work will be top of mind among your connections.

Seven Tips for Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn

  1. Make sure your profile is public, so that even non-LinkedIn-users can find you.
  2. Publish your LinkedIn profile on business cards, email signatures and your website.
  3. When you invite people to connect, don’t use the generic personal note supplied – write your own unique invitation to more effectively engage a connection.
  4. Use relevant keywords throughout your profile.
  5. Frequently answer question posts from other users; this helps to brand you as a knowledge leader in your field.
  6. Offer to write recommendations for your connections – don’t just ask for them. It’s more sincere, and more effective for gathering positive recommendations.
  7. Don’t connect with people just to get something from them or to ask a favor; offer to do something for them, like make introductions, write recommendations, etc. Sincerity counts, even online!

Want to connect to Nevada State Bank on LinkedIn?  Visit us at www.LinkedIn.com/company/nevada-state-bank.