It’s risky to write and publish a book about a specific social media platform. There is no guarantee that the platform will be as popular or as relevant by the time the book is published. Additionally, any social media network that requires a book perhaps isn’t as easy to use and understand as it should be. However, in his book Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing, Neal Schaffer is able to explain the ins and outs of LinkedIn, while providing case studies about how small business owners and large companies have capitalized on the platform to increase sales and engage with customers and other companies as well as promote their business.

Are You Linked In or Out?

However simple you may think LinkedIn is, the truth is that most of us are not optimizing it as much as we could. In-between his helpful reminders of how to make our profile’s content easier to find and stand out, Schaffer offers case studies that further illustrate what he means.

Like any social networking site, LinkedIn is only as good as how active you are and what you hope to gain from it. Though it can provide job opportunities and networking possibilities, the platform is also ideal for companies wanting to connect with prospective partners and distributors, as well as customers. And it provides more control than other platforms (ahem, Facebook or Twitter).

The Other Social Networking Site

For as much attention as Facebook and Twitter receive about updates to user interfaces, privacy controls and promotional content, LinkedIn often fades to the background, despite having a large audience of professionals (approximately 120 million users). Recently, LinkedIn hosted a live town hall forum with President Barack Obama, which has been viewed by more than 150,000 people online between the Ustream/LinkedIn and White House channels to date.

Schaffer is quick to point out that LinkedIn is a business tool, which muddies the social business waters. Is LinkedIn a business tool for social professionals, or is a social tool for business people? Is there a difference? Schaffer thinks so. He writes:

[LinkedIn] has a number of applications that allow us to share, discuss, and engage with each other, but when it comes down to it, it is simply a database of professional profiles."

For him, LinkedIn is a way to meet other people that just happens to do it with social elements similar to social media. With this argument it’s easy for Schaffer to offer advice on how to optimize your profile so you can be found by potential business partners.

Leveraging Connections, Empowering Employees

Beyond individual profiles, companies can leverage company pages as a way to build a singular corporate presence online in a manner that is more controlled than a Facebook page. Schaffer provides a good overview of why a company may want one rather than the other, which usually comes down to a need to share information to potential business partners and stakeholders, rather than actual consumers.

I credit Schaffer for talking about employee engagement within LinkedIn. He is clear that employees can play a significant role, in essence extending their current sales reach online. He writes:

It’s also vital that LinkedIn is open and available for your employees to use during business hours. In order to drive home the importance of this business service, share stories with your employees and educate them about how you have closed business deals or received invaluable introductions utilizing LinkedIn."

This alone is reason to recommend this book to your C-Suite. Professional social networking is not reserved just for business hours, of course, but to stay connected globally, access during the traditional work day is essential. 

Overall the book is a great primer for those wanting to leverage LinkedIn beyond their individual profile. For others, it’s a great refresher for how we can update and evolve our profiles for continued optimization.