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									Shop Talk
Linkedin helps take business networking to the next level
By: Diana Kostigen

Like Heidi says, one day you’re in and the next, you’re out. But that’s only with reality
shows and sororities. Networking is not a popularity contest. And online professional
networking services like Linkedin are the simplest way to “make it work,” since they’re
always working for you and your business.

Rush Week
Getting Linkedin isn’t by invitation only- anyone can create a profile. Just make sure you
are thorough since Linkedin is text searchable. Include your past education, job history
and interests. And add up to three links to websites or blogs to get even more traffic
directed to your company’s site.

Once you’re on the next step is to look for connections. Search by name, company or
groups like the Asheville’s Chamber of Commerce, which currently has 77 members.
You can also invite people to be a connection. Type in their names and e-mail addresses
or import your address book from your Outlook or Yahoo mail and an invitation will be
sent asking your friends and colleagues to link in.

Just remember, unlike other networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, Linkedin is a
professional site. Its meant to help connect with other businesses that will help grow
your business. Think of Linkedin as an extension of the workplace, leaving family,
political, religious and personal talk at a minimum.

So what about a photo? A conservative photo like a headshot personalize your profile
and make future networking meetings less awkward since people can already put your
name with your face.

Top Sister
Surviving “sisterhood” isn’t about how many connections you have, but how you use
them. Getting “in” doesn’t mean getting initiated, but you will need an introduction.
Linkedin gives you the control over who can see your profile and your connections.

For my mere 37 connections, there are 300 or more of their connections that I could
potentially become introduced to. Once you start building your connections, your
networking becomes simpler and your networking circle’s exponential growth can
become staggering.

I pledge
Linkedin may be perfect for you couch potatoes, just don’t get too comfortable. Getting
the connections is just the first step- you’ve got to be proactive. Arrange meetings,
occasionally touch base with your contacts and plan on spending time each week looking
for new connections.
Network updates help see who’s who and who’s new. Linkedin isn’t just there to build
your business to it’s a good resource to find businesses. Need a printer? Want a nice
meal out? Looking for a reputable home security provider? Your connection’s
connections offer a built in referral. And if you’re still not sure, just ask.

My legacy
The best way to be remembered is by joining a group. Browsing through groups is the
simplest way for people to find connections, and the more they see your profile, the more
likely they are to view your profile. Besides the Chamber of Commerce, groups can be
for Alumni or based on your field like sales and marketing or smart home technologies.

Don’t see a group that fits? Start your own and send out the invitations. Groups can be a
great way to get input from, run ideas by, and ask for help for your own business. Plus,
since they can be national groups, you can connect with more folks in your field without
worrying about competition.

And don’t forget recommendations. Giving a connection a “thumbs up” goes a long way
in promoting you and your business and is kept public, posted to your profile.

This is the opinion of Diana Kostigen, chief executive officer of Pegasus Image Design,
an Asheville-based firm specializing in image targeting, marketing, advertising and PR
for small businesses. Write to her at diana@pegasusimage.com and visit
www.pegasusimage.com

								
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