There are so many tangible examples of how online networking, especially LinkedIn can, has and does open doors and connections, not only for me but many others I know who are using it with very good results.
Very good results come from not only understanding how it works technically, but why it works. LinkedIn is a professional platform — not a social platform. That’s important to know so you use it right and get the best results.
People connecting with each other, making referrals, introductions and recommendations are nothing new really in business. The difference today is how BIG the networking world has become with the web and social media. This is why LinkedIn  used strategically can help you make those smart, qualified connections.
LinkedIn is the professional playground for professional connections. If you seriously want to engage the professional community and their decision makers, then LinkedIn is THE place to play. LinkedIn profiles  are now hybrids of resumes, websites, Facebook and blog pages. It’s the most complete presentation of who you are and what you are up to … professionally. I send people to LinkedIn first!
Here are 7 benefits of LinkedIn that professionals should take advantage of:
- Make smart, right connections. Only the serious apply here. This is where the professional community engages, interacts, connects and refers. Start your process on LinkedIn if you want to get a company or person to notice you. Develop your profile, put up a professional head shot, link your blog, and post good content as often as you can and respond to other people’s posts.
- Who do you want to meet? Make a target list of who you want to meet-companies and people. Make LinkedIn a prospecting, research and engagement tool. Use the information you gather to send thoughtful, smart messages.
- Who do you want to meet you? This is where “mutual magnetism” works both ways. There are people we all want to meet for the value they bring to us, but there is value in what you bring to others too. Use your connections, wisdom, experience and personality to both meet people and initiate people meeting you. Develop your profile and keep it up to date!
- Link up on LinkedIn: Identify people in your sphere and community that would be great to meet each other and make introductions. When you want to be connected, those connections you made can come in very handy!
- The Rules of Engagement: There is an etiquette on all the social platforms, but especially LinkedIn. Just because we connect doesn’t give anyone permission to start sending frequent, non-permission based sales emails. Spend some time interacting with people, supporting their content, causes and company before launching into salesy stuff.
- Use brand power — your brand, your company brand, your industry brand: LinkedIn is the perfect environment to leverage ‘brand power’. Remember there’s your brand, your company brand and your industry brand. Promote and connect all three and watch relationships grow.
- You + new media = smart connections: Your strategic, consistent and value driven communications used in a thoughtful way on LinkedIn can and will open doors. LinkedIn is a great place to start, it makes it easy to add Twitter, your blog and other sites that all work together to professionally present you in a single page snapshot.
Check out these LinkedIn Demographics and Stats  further demonstrating the power of LinkedIn.
How are you using LinkedIn to make smart connections?