Young Entrepreneurs: 5 Reasons Why You CAN & SHOULD Leverage LinkedIn!

486876114_dceeb8210dYou’ve been on Facebook for a few years. You “get” Twitter. But you’ve avoided LinkedIn. Just for older professionals? Only full of recruiters and people looking for work? Don’t see any value? You’re not alone. Many people young and old are still confused over LinkedIn.

But, as there are more grandparents on Facebook than high school students now, the time has come for you to venture on to LinkedIn. And LinkedIn wants you to succeed; heck, they’ll even publicize it! If LinkedIn’s active outreach to 2009 college graduates is any reminder to you, you are definitely not too young to be on LinkedIn.

If you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re missing out big time. Here are 5 reasons why you SHOULD be leveraging LinkedIn:

1. Build a Credible, Professional Brand

This database of more than 43 million people is now the default yellow pages for professionals. Your not being on LinkedIn is starting to cost you credibility as an entrepreneur. Create a great branded profile and you will immediately be viewed as being more “professional”.  After all, before meeting someone in the business world, where do you go to find out more about them? LinkedIn, of course.

2. Be Found

LinkedIn is not just about finding others. It is about being found. Every word you enter on your LinkedIn profile becomes searchable by anyone who may be looking for your expertise. Ensure that all keywords that you would like to be discovered with are embedded in your profile. My search for “young entrepreneur” turned up more than 10,000 people. I hope that you were one of them.

3. Get Advice

You may be looking for guidance for something that you lack experience for. You may have a question that no one in your network can give you a good answer for. Look no further: LinkedIn has a Q&A board that has more than 2,000,000 answers.

2009-07-14_1530

There are more than 20 categories represented here that represent most business topics. Why look for a mentor when millions of LinkedIn professionals may be able to help you with your question? Check out this sample of 26 answers over a few days for ideas for a Teen Entrepreneurship Class. It’s like having a virtual Trusted Network of Advisors at your fingertips.

4. Optimal Networking

As an entrepreneur, you are a natural networker. If you want to network online to find new business partners, customers, or vendors, where do you find them? On Twitter you can only search for people by what they tweet. Facebook is a mixed bag and not everyone is showing everything. LinkedIn displays everyone’s profile and makes them all searchable. This means that you can pinpoint whoever you may want to find down to a zip code, company, title, industry, keyword, etc. And if you are in the same LinkedIn Group, chances are that you can directly send them a message and connect up. Optimal networking, brought to you by LinkedIn!

5. Network Up the Food Chain

linkedinLIONs1Entrepreneurs should always be networking up the food chain. LinkedIn users earn an average six-figure household income. Isn’t this an ideal place to find potential customers? What about venture capital? My search found almost 70,000 users in the “Venture Capital & Private Equity” sector, and I’m connected to 99 of them already simply from my status as a LinkedIn Open Networker or “LION”.

I have witnessed several occasions where people discovered business on LinkedIn Answers and LinkedIn Groups Discussions Boards alone. There is a lot to explore in LinkedIn. But you can’t explore it if you don’t sign up and gain a professional presence on it. Be intimidated no more. Get LinkedIn.

Images by: Bigmouthmedia, Aside


NealCopyThis post was written by special guest expert Neal Schaffer.

Neal Schaffer is helping all generations embrace and leverage Social Media through Windmill Networking, a concept he will introduce in his soon-to-be published first book “Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn” (Aug ’09).  He also blogs about LinkedIn and social networking at http://windmillnetworking.com.

  • Great Post Brad….

    Linkedin is definitely an awesome website to network.

    There is a great book called “Linked working” By: @Lewishowes that I would highly recommend!

    I am using it to grow my network and get recommended!

    It's a great social proof brand builder!

    have a great day! I'm out and off the computer b/c today is my birthday….

    a break for a bit is nice! lol

    • nealschaffer

      David,

      Thanks for the comment and ecstatic that you found value in the post.

      Hey, I met Lewis Howes last night at a networking event out here in Los Angeles! He's a good guy.

      I hope you will also become a fan of my book when it is released in August. I have heard great things about LinkedWorking, so the bar has been set high. I have been spending the last several months working on something that will hopefully bring both new and old generations onto LinkedIn and help them really leverage it for whatever objective they might have: “Windmill Networking”.

      Stay tuned, and thanks again for the comment!

      Neal

      http://www.linkedin.com/in/nealschaffer
      http://www.twitter.com/nealschaffer
      http://www.facebook.com/nealschaffer

    • Hey David!

      Happy bday brother. How old are you? You will be a millionaire before your 25! Lewis has some great stuff. He recently sent me a copy of his book, but yet to dive in yet. Whats your url for linkedin?

  • Great Blog guys…really good work Neal, kudos.

    I agree, been using LinkedIn, for some time, and I've gotten great leads, closed sales, open opportunities, networking with people I never thought could, new business venture and learning so much as well.

    Yes, be highly active if you can, reach out and network with people. Join groups of interests, and really stand out that complements your objectives.

  • Feel free to leave your LinkedIn address,

    here is mine: http://www.linkedin.com/in/bradleywill

    I look forward to connecting with you all.

  • Rita_Lawrence

    The article is very helpful. My background is in psychiatric nursing and I am getting used to communicating with others in the business world. I am writing and am getting ready to send articles out for publication.

    • nealschaffer

      Rita,

      You rock. Writing articles is a great way to brand yourself and share your value with the world…that was the thought process when I started writing my own book. Optimize your LinkedIn Profile, join Groups and participate, ask some Questions and provide some Answers. Networking through LinkedIn as I suggested will lead you to bigger and better things in your career! Go for it and report back to us on your success stories!

      Cheers,
      Neal

      • Rita_Lawrence

        Thanks Neal, keep me informed.  You younger people really are driving how we communicate in the world now.
        Regards, Rita.

        ________________________________

        • nealschaffer

          Hey Rita,

          Brad is the Millenial. I'm GenX all the way! I believe that social media can be embraced by _all_ generations equally.

          Cheers,
          Neal

          • That is why we make a good team 😉

          • nealschaffer

            Indeed! We have two generations covered 😉 Looking forward to tag-teaming with you again soon!

        • We are all young at heart 😉

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  • haraldo

    Indeed nothing is pefect but the positive effects using Linkedin are incredible. I am a German IT Business & BPO consultant living in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia and by using Linkedin I get network contacts in the highest business levels around the world in an incredible speed. Before I was using XING the German double of Linkedin, but there the speed of the networking and the reaction of the people was quite slooooooooow. So for my opinion the LinkedIn people became quite good and interactive.
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/harald-fertig
    HARALD

    • nealschaffer

      Excellent comment, Haraldo, and glad to hear that you are having success with LinkedIn. Yes, we need to be realistic with our goals for LinkedIn, but for business people (including young entrepreneurs, of course), LinkedIn is second to none. As for the speed of interaction, Twitter is even faster than LinkedIn…hope you are using it as well!

      – Neal

  • ignacioinchausti

    Being a baby boomer I “get” LinkedIn and I'm encouraged to see that young entrepreneurs are also “getting ” it. My challenge is with Twitter. I recently relented and opened an account, but am slowly struggling with the concept and the fucntionality and capability.

    What are the best useability and user-experience sources for me to tap to help me on my Twitter journey?

    • nealschaffer

      Hi Ignacio,

      Thanks for the comment and glad to hear that you “get” LinkedIn.

      Twitter usually takes awhile before the light goes on. When my light went on, I wrote the following blog post which I hope will help you:

      http://www.trenderresearch.com/profiles/blogs/c

      It comes down to your objective of using Twitter, but it can be used as a dynamic complementary social networking platform to LinkedIn.

      I think your best bet is to look at how thought leaders are tweeting for hints. Try @chrisbrogan, @bradleywill, and @jowyang for starters. Also feel free to check out my own style of tweeting @nealschaffer.

      If you need additional help please contact Brad or myself.

      Cheers,
      Neal

    • try this: http://www.twitip.com/

      or contact Neal or I. We will get you going.

      bradley

  • elijahryoung

    Neal hits the nail right on the head.

    We tell our teens every day that the “Inc”, or “LLC” at the end of their busines name puts them on the exact same level as their adult counterparts, so why not network and use the tools that they use to be successful.

    Teens especially have an advantage with platforms like Linkedin because no one expects to see a teen in the Q&A section, or starting discussions in a group. Now there are some issues with the amount of time teens can spend on Linkedin, with schooling restraints, but if they can find time to spend on Facebook, I'm sure savvy entrepreneurs can squeeze some valuable Linkedin time into their day.

  • Amievoltaire

    A quick link to register would be great! :<)

  • JuniorBiz

    I use LinkedIn to follow-up with people I meet. For instance, I go to a monthly networking event and talk to 4 or 5 people there. Without LinkedIn I would likely wait a month before engaging with these people again (and that's if they're regular attendees). With LinkedIn I can add them to my network and send a few messages back and forth before the next meeting. It's a great way to get to know people you meet!

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  • neilfrabstein

    I'd like to see an example of money making LIONS

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  • Elmar Sandyck

    Great post, Neal. Everyone seems to be spending a lot of time in Facebook and Twitter and while that's great too, LinkedIn offers a great professional networking environment which should not be overlooked! It really is time to take a serious look at it — and sharpen our LinkedIn profiles! For those who don't have an account yet, I highly recommend signing up!

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