I have been a LinkedIn member since 2004, when I had 37 direct connections. Since that time I've built up my network to more than 13,000 direct connections, all through organic means.
The power of the LinkedIn network has always been apparent to me, and has resulted in everything from new jobs to consulting opportunities to finding the right financial planner to help us refinance the house.
Here are the top 5 reasons why I use LinkedIn every day:
1. LinkedIn is my CRM
With LinkedIn I can keep ALL my contacts in one place - even if they aren't LinkedIn members. I can access emails and contacts in one easy place. Plus, if I'm traveling, I can look up who is in the city I'm going to and contact them to get together in person.
2. LinkedIn is the best marketing tool for B2B clients
I do a lot of consulting with clients in the B2B space. Social media marketing is one of the tools in my marketing toolkit and LinkedIn is on the top of the list. Through engagement on Company Pages, Groups and Status Bar I can help my clients reach potential and current customers easily and effectively.
3. LinkedIn has helped me land not one, but two corporate positions
By using LinkedIn to connect with hiring managers (in both cases for me CEOs) I was able to "jump to the head of the HR line" and be seriously considered for corporate positions.
The Director of Communications position I landed at iContact was a direct result of this practice. When I was interviewed by the CEO, he had my LinkedIn profile printed out - not my resume.
4. It's not the size of your LinkedIn network - it's what you do with it that matters
Sorry, but I couldn't resist the analogy. I have more than 13,000 direct connections on LinkedIn. I caution my workshop audiences to "not try this at home."
But, I do rely on this network to reach my goals, whether it be promotion of my LinkedIn training, finding guests for my LinkedIn podcast, helping a friend with a crowdfunding campaign, or introducing someone to a hiring manager in their target company.
All of this is based on my philosophy of changing the value proposition in social media - asking how you can be of service to others.
5. LinkedIn is the biggest Pay it Forward platform in the world
As a pay it forward advocate, I often leverage my LinkedIn network to help others. The small Big as I like to call it - doing something that takes just a moment of your time but that is huge to the person you're helping.
LinkedIn - through connections, groups and even your status can provide a way to reach out to other professionals who can help that one person in need. My favorite expression: "I have 13,000 connections so I have 12,999 people who can be of service to someone who comes to me and asks for help.
Do you need to be on LinkedIn EVERY DAY? Probably not.
I would however, recommend you take advantage of the many features the platform offers to market your business, find a new position and pay it forward whenever you can!
I welcome your comments and look forward to seeing you on LinkedIn. If we're not connected, send me an invite and mention this post - I'll gladly connect with you right away.
Chuck Hester is the Chief Communications Officer for Big Think Innovation, a business architect consultancy that helps companies plan, grow and build their futures. He is also a LinkedIn trainer and speaker, helping businesses get the most out of LinkedIn, while teaching them how to communicate effectively. Contact him directly at email@example.com.
Need help with LinkedIn? Feel free to message Chuck and ask about one-on-one and group LinkedIn Executive Training.