Although I've found LinkedIn useful for over a decade, it has truly blossomed in recent years.
It has become an intrinsic part of my work each day. Admittedly, the industries that most affect my work—technology and communications—were quick to adopt it as a business networking platform, making it particularly powerful. However, other industries are catching up fast; even the legal industry seems to be getting on board.
Here's why I spend so much time on LinkedIn and why anyone in PR should be doing so, too:
1. LinkedIn as a platform for showcasing experience.
As well as using it as an enhanced online CV with recommendations, I can bring it to life with pictures and video. I can use keywords to make my profile more search friendly, as well as creating additional profiles in different languages to reach people in emerging markets.
2. LinkedIn as a source of great content.
Its transformation from networking platform to content publisher has been impressive. I enjoy reading exclusive LinkedIn content, as well as its suggested content from other sources and articles shared by people in my network.
3. LinkedIn as a source of talent.
I can search by name, company, keyword, and location. I can find the people I need to talk to, whether they're in London, San Francisco, or Moscow. No wonder it has become the primary tool for recruitment firms—and why businesses are increasingly doing their own recruitment.
4. LinkedIn as a source of industry insight.
It helps me build an understanding of journalists, prospects, businesses, and particular areas of technology.
5. LinkedIn as a platform for clients.
The Influencer Program enables its authors to reach a potential audience of 259 million people. The most-read story by a contributor had 1.8 million views. Company pages and groups are also highly effective for developing a community and engaging with stakeholders.
6. LinkedIn as a source of media opportunities for my clients.
I'm finding opportunities for clients in influential media via LinkedIn groups as journalists look to connect directly with industry experts.
7. LinkedIn as a new business tool.
The platform is hugely valuable in helping me find business opportunities in the UK and beyond. One of my clients was secured through an approach on LinkedIn without any prior relationship with anyone in his business.
8. LinkedIn as an ad platform.
I'm particularly fond of sponsored updates, which I can use for clients and for promoting my own case studies to people outside my network. It provides a powerful array of options for ad targeting: You can specify title, company, industry, and location.
9. LinkedIn as a tool for developing my contacts database.
The ability to export contacts is helping me expand my database for marketing tools such as MailChimp.
[RELATED: Prove the ROI of your digital efforts after hearing these top-rated case studies in March.]
10. LinkedIn as an amplifier of my client's media coverage.
The “In the News” feature often notifies a client's entire network when he or she has been quoted in the media, adding value to my work.
Toby Walsh is an independent consultant at TWPR.
He has extensive experience in corporate, B2B and consumer
communications within the technology and digital media industries. You
can follow him @tobyjwalsh.