co LinkedIn and Professional Contacts, Get Out There and Mingle |

You’ve probably heard some statistics about who’s on LinkedIn. The “average” LinkedIn subscriber is a 41 year old male, with a median household income of $109,703. And while statistics might be skewed, it does tell me a few important things. People who sign up are using LinkedIn for business and networking purposes. So it sounds like LinkedIn is a great business party that’s online and a perfect place for small businesses to connect with other professionals.

LinkedIn has even more relevance in today’s economic light. Male or female, everyone is scrambling to either keep their job or find a new one. Networking is more crucial than ever. Small businesses need these connections to diversify, make stronger ties, and locate new marketing opportunities.

LinkedIn has many uses, and when handled correctly it’s quite appropriate to make business contacts through this social media network. And you should–there are over 8 million professionals on LinkedIn, and they represent over 130 industries. Nowhere else do you have this kind of chance to work your way up or over the ladder of success. You can ask for an introduction, form a partnership, or find out about an employment opportunity–all while increasing your online presence.

You have to do more than sign up for a LinkedIn account and then set up a profile. You have to learn how to “work” it. Increasing your visibility is crucial to making LinkedIn work for you. Type in every business associate name you know. Go down your rolodex, get out all those business cards you never use–and start typing in names and asking for a connection.

But I already know these people! Yes, I’ll give you that, Do you know who they know? Bingo.
That’s where the connectivity really starts. You can “name drop” on LinkedIn. “I’m a business associate of Joe Bob, will you join my LinkedIn network?” That’s how easy it is. Not only will you connect with Joe Bob, you’ll also be privy to all of his friends and networking associates. Hundreds of names for you to peruse–many of those people will agree to connect with you because of their association with Joe Bob. It’s well known that people in the business world like to have a reference for a future employee, or business partner. LinkedIn, when handled appropriately can will have something in common with you.

So to continue with our party analogy, don’t just agree to show up at the LinkedIn social networking party–and don’t just grab a drink and stand in one corner–get out there and mingle.