LinkedIn ain't what it used to be.
The business-focused social media site has "gotten so complicated," says Michael Yublosky. But, he adds in the next breath, "There are so many things you can do. (LinkedIn) is a much more effective tool."
Chief among the things to do is "target market. There are more tools for people to use to be able to connect," says Yublosky, head of JEM Consulting, Buffalo Grove.
Heading toward its tenth anniversary in May with more than 200 million members worldwide -- most of whom are outside the United States -- LinkedIn indeed has made many changes. "They've thrown out a lot of old applications," Yublosky says. "They're trying to push people into groups, where it's easier to network online."
It's the opportunity for smaller businesses to build business online that turns on Yublosky, who admits to being something of an evangelist when it comes to LinkedIn opportunities. Once you've put your personal listing in order, which likely will require some changes, you're ready to take advantage of the target marketing opportunities Yublosky says are there.
"It's called prospecting, Jim," Yublosky says. "You're not looking to sell on LinkedIn. You're looking to build relationships. It's 'What can I do for you? What can we do together?'"
Then it's easy, Yublosky says, to "Go off LinkedIn and meet for coffee or do a Skype conference call."
Those first-level connections you've built so religiously "are not really that important," Yublosky says. "It's the second level, the new opportunities your connections can get you to."
Yublosky's process begins with a look at your LinkedIn profile. "Complete it," he says. "Put your phone number on the contact list. Personalize your LinkedIn address. Create a LinkedIn company page -- and use it. Add photos and videos. Upload files other people can download.
"The reason to embellish your listing is to provide people with more information on your brand, on yourself," Yublosky continues. "We have to be our own media, write our own PR.
"You want people to discover you. Show me your professionalism. Show me your abilities."
As LinkedIn makes it easier to join topical or shared-interest groups, Yublosky suggests creating your own discussion group. "Set up your own limited discussion group about your industry, about your business. Invite (appropriate) people to join, and email (discussion topics) to them once a week."
Yublosky says that only about 10 percent of LinkedIn discussion groups show much activity, although, he adds, "It's your group. You are the owner," and you can manage the discussion as you choose.
LinkedIn last year also made gathering recommendations easier. In fact, being prompted by LinkedIn to provide recommendations for the people on your contact list -- something you now can do with a click rather than a paragraph -- is a pretty regular experience.
• Jim Kendall welcomes comments at JKendall@121MarketingResources.com © 2013 121 Marketing Resources, Inc.