With this question I approached Eve Bodeux, French to English translator and Localization Consultant at Bodeux International. A Twitter contact had spread the word that she was giving a webinar about social media for translators.
For now, I blog and I tweet. And I’d like to get better at using LinkedIn.
Eve’s LinkedIn profile is exceptionally “full” and I’m pleased she took the time to share her own approach to LinkedIn.
Catherine: Firstly, what advantages does LinkedIn have over other professional networks such as Viadeo or Xing?
Eve: LinkedIn, Viadeo and Xing offer similar services, but each is focused on a particular region. LinkedIn originated in the US and has a large following in North America. It does offer various language versions which allow users to add different language interfaces to their profile. This lets people target other LinkedIn users in different countries.
Viadeo and Xing offer similar services to LinkedIn and they also offer the option to create multiple, multilingual versions of a profile. They are of French and German origin, respectively. Their user base is more Europe-focused, but they also do offer interfaces in English.
Whichever service you decide to use would depend on where you have the most contacts, what region you are in, and your strategy for making additional contacts in a particular region. If you have the time to devote to more than one of these professional networking services, you can of course, have accounts on more than one of them. The initial membership levels for all are free, with various other levels of membership at different cost and option levels.
Catherine: What are the basic rules of using LinkedIn?
Eve: Think strategically. Have a clear LinkedIn strategy with specific goals so that you can measure your success with this tool.
For example, you may have a goal to add a certain number of contacts within a given amount of time, you may aim to have your profile viewed a certain number of times per week, or you may decide to research a given number of potential clients every month.
Having a clear strategy will help you feel positive about the time you spend on LinkedIn and see any progress you make. You can always adjust your strategy as your needs or objectives change.
Build your network. Initially, you can build your LinkedIn network by seeing which members of your circle are already active on LinkedIn. Invite those people to become LinkedIn contacts. Look through your e-mail address book, or let LinkedIn automatically access it to tell you who among your colleagues is already on LinkedIn.
When you meet new colleagues or clients in person, be sure to follow up later by sending them a LinkedIn request so you can keep in touch and leverage that new relationship. These are high-quality contacts that are easy to add to your list of connections.
Carefully craft your profile. Your profile is your public face on this site. It is also what the LinkedIn search engine looks at to see if you match up with another user’s search.
Think carefully about the Headline section of your profile as this is where you “define yourself” in a few words. If you are a freelance translator, make sure the word “Translator” and your language pair appear in your Headline.
In addition, be sure to write, rewrite and proof the Summary on your profile. You can list all of your past jobs and experience on LinkedIn, but the summary section offers you a place to describe your skills and sell yourself in your own words.
Catherine: How do you feel about connecting with people with whom you’ve had only virtual contact or no contact at all?
Eve: If used wisely, LinkedIn is an excellent tool to broaden your contacts with individuals with whom you would never have been able to have contact otherwise, due to geographic or industry barriers. However, if used too much as a “sales” tool, it risks alienating people who might otherwise be interested in linking up with you.
When I receive requests from individuals I do not know, I do not categorically reject them; I do look at the content of their request and why they would like to hook up with me. For example, if a stranger sends me a request with the “canned” LinkedIn request that says, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” I automatically reject it.
However, if someone contacts me and I don’t know him or her personally, but there is an interesting “pitch” as to why we should link up, I am likely to accept the request. For example, if a person mentions we are in the same industry but have different functions, or was interested in an article I wrote, or is in a related industry and has a specific reason for wanting to link up, I usually accept the request.
I do believe that part of the attraction of LinkedIn (and similar services) is that it gives us the opportunity to connect with interesting individuals around the globe. If you approach individuals thoughtfully, they will most always accept your invitation to connect. If they don’t, do not take it personally—their LinkedIn strategy may be different from yours. However, if most people reject your requests, it may be time to rethink your strategy.
Catherine: Do you recommend hooking up applications like WordPress or Twitter or SlideShare to your profile?
Eve: I do recommend sharing various applications through the LinkedIn interface. This gives more depth to your profile and lets you update it with little effort. For example, you can use WordPress to automatically feed any new posts from your blog to your LinkedIn account. If you have a presentation that you’d like to share with visitors, it is very easy to upload them to SlideShare and have it displayed on your profile.
Regarding Twitter, there are different schools of thought with regard to this application. If I follow someone on Twitter and am also connected to them on LinkedIn, I find it somewhat annoying to see the same content twice in both places. However, many people do not mind this.
If you have significantly different followings on Twitter and LinkedIn, you will be reaching different audiences with the same content if you pass your Twitter feed through your LinkedIn updates. You can also specify which tweets you would like to feed into LinkedIn, rather than have all tweets go to LinkedIn by default. Using this feature, you can be selective about what content you share on both platforms.
Catherine: Can a freelancer expect concrete results from investing time in LinkedIn?
Eve: As discussed above, defining your goals up front will help you measure results and adjust your approach if necessary. LinkedIn is a very visible place to be in today’s professional world and colleagues and potential clients expect it. Recognize that LinkedIn is a “long-term” tool. Getting on LinkedIn won’t change your life overnight, but it does increase your visibility and exposure.
In addition, you may actually get clients from LinkedIn. In the past year I have had more and more companies contact me cold, asking for consulting services. When I asked them how they heard about me, they all said LinkedIn! LinkedIn needs to be part of your overall marketing strategy, and today, it is a piece you cannot ignore.
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I’d love to hear about how you use LinkedIn. Any comments?