I have a lot of time for LinkedIn — it has always been a genuinely useful way to build up my network of contacts. In particular, I love the Skills and Expertise section that was introduced a couple of years ago — it’s great for providing a snapshot of someone’s skills and demonstrating which of those skills are especially valued by others.
But this section is actually much cleverer than that and goes beyond a simple display of professional skills.
Select Skills & Expertise from the More menu in LinkedIn’s top navigation bar and you’ll discover some rich marketing information just waiting to be mined. On my own LinkedIn page, marketing strategy is a skill for which I’ve received many endorsements — and a search using that term immediately identifies other professionals with that same skill.
If you’re connected with them via others in your network, this will show; and it may well be that linking directly could be beneficial. Depending on how closely you’re connected, this could be as simple as sending a message, or requesting an introduction, or making contact via a shared group.
You’ll also see a list of related skills and statistics about how many other people are using that skill and how popular the particular skill is. This information can be useful for determining the skills you want to add to your own profile — you can have up to 50 — and it’s well worth considering including less popular skills as well. If someone is searching for that skill and you are identified as one amongst a hundred others, it could yield more interesting and beneficial results than being one in thousands.
Another useful feature is Groups and Companies. You’ll see a list of companies that are relevant to your skill, so giving you the opportunity to dig deeper into a shortlist of companies that may require your services. Visit a company page and you can then find out who you know and then introduce yourself. And with so many groups on LinkedIn, the groups section is ideal for quickly identifying groups that are worth joining and where you can then build strategic relationships.
I highly recommend using Skills and Expertise, it’s the perfect tool to improve your connections and nurture business opportunities — just be warned, though, it’s very easy to spend hours at a time delving into the information, so be disciplined and don’t let it be to the detriment of other marketing activities that might need your attention!