This is a guest contribution from Matthew Oleniuk.
Close to ten years after Facebook took the world by storm, there’s not much point in stressing the importance of social media anymore.
You just can’t grow your blog or your brand these days without having a social presence – so everyone races to create their Facebook page, and their Twitter profile, and their Instagram portfolio.
But in all the busy-ness, the one platform that always seems to be ignored is LinkedIn.
Okay, sure: it might not have the billion-plus users that Facebook has, and you won’t find LinkedIn feeds at the bottom of a television broadcast like you do with Twitter.
So is LinkedIn even worth your time? Isn’t it just for job-seekers?
As we’ll cover below, not only do I think LinkedIn is the best social media platform out there for every blogger, it’s the only one I use.
And it’s the only one you should use, too.
Why not all of them?
First of all, let’s address the question that people always ask when I tell them to focus on LinkedIn: why do we have to choose? Sure, LinkedIn might be great, but why not also use Twitter, and Facebook, and Pinterest, and Instagram, and Google+?
For huge blogs there might be enough people on board to cover lots of tasks at the same time, and hire different people who are all really good at different things.
But most bloggers are one-person shops – especially with those blogs in their early days. We’re the writer, the designer, the marketer, and the public face of the business.
We simply don’t have the time to do everything.
To be everywhere.
To connect with everyone.
So, if we can’t do everything, we have to recognize that we’re faced with a choice: we can do many things badly, or we can do a few things really well.
If we want to succeed, we have to focus.
And that means concentrating our efforts where we think they’ll have the most impact.
LinkedIn people actually want you to connect with them.
So if we decide to focus on LinkedIn, what kinds of people will we find?
To answer that question – and to distinguish between the types of people you’ll encounter on LinkedIn versus everywhere else – let’s look at the difference between a party and a conference.
Even if you only know the host, you’re probably still happy to go to a party, because a friend of Joe is a friend of yours, right? So you grab your bottle of wine, happily introduce yourself to complete strangers, and hope to make some new friends by the end of the night.
But what if you don’t know anyone at the party – not even the host??
You’ll probably be asked to leave, the police might be called, and the only reason you’ll be on anyone’s phones is because you’ll be added to a whole bunch of blocked lists.
At a conference, however, it’s perfectly normal to not know anyone – and just as acceptable to start a conversation with a complete stranger for little to no reason.
If you’re at a conference, you belong – as simple as that. And everyone you talk to will be happy to make a new connection.
It’s the latter mentality that you’ll find on LinkedIn: a great community of people who just want to meet more people.
If you reach out one-by-one on LinkedIn, you won’t come across as a spammer or a stalker. You’ll just look like someone who wants to build their network.
Network connections are hard currency for professionals, and on LinkedIn, everyone wants to build their bank accounts.
It’s not just for “professional businesses.”
A lot of you might have niche blogs that don’t really fit the “suit and tie” mold. You started your blog out of passion, and who knew that something you loved would actually gain an audience?
So you might be wondering: could LinkedIn still work for you?
The answer is a resounding: yes!
And the reason is that there are groups for everything, and those groups can be a fantastic entrance into your new community of followers.
If you run a pet-lover’s blog, look for groups of groomers, vegetarians, or special interest groups. If you run a gardening blog, look for groups of nurseries, landscapers, or horticulturalists.
But while Facebook and the rest might have a lot of those groups, here’s the big advantage LinkedIn has over the other social media.
You won’t find “fan page” groups, on LinkedIn. You’ll only find collections of professionals in those fields – which means they’re also influencers in your target market.
These aren’t people who just “like” your area of expertise, they’re people who are trying to lead the movement.
You’re connecting with authorities in your field – not followers.
You won’t know where those connections might lead.
For anyone whose business goes beyond the blog – coaching, speaking, consulting – it’s impossible to have too many opportunities to extend your reach.
And while other social media are great for spreading your brand, it’s unlikely that you’ll get as many opportunities coming back to you as you would with LinkedIn.
We’ve already talked about how your connections will be more engaged than in other media, and we’ve covered how your connections will most likely be leaders, rather than followers.
Which means that the partnerships they’re seeking won’t be to boost their stats – they’ll connect in order to grow their brand.
That means they’ll be motivated to get you in front of their own audience. They’ll want you to speak to their audience, to inform them, to teach them.
And they’ll push you in front of their audiences to do just that.
Although we can all claim to be experts in a certain field, most of us are targeting a very specific piece of that field.
So – for example – while there are a lot of people who call themselves “career coaches,” most will focus on any one of writing resumes, or preparing for interviews, or changing careers, or leadership building, or…
You get the picture.
Everyone has their focused toolbox, and every real expert knows where his expertise ends.
When you work with professionals, you work with people who will recognize the unique skills and knowledge you can provide.
And they’re eager to take advantage of it.
It has to work for you.
At the end of the day, I focus all of my efforts on LinkedIn because it’s the most natural fit for me. The connections I’m looking for are there, the business opportunities are there, the type of engagement is there.
It’s perfect – for me.
And that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned in building my business: that we can listen to loads of different “experts” describing the silver bullet of wealth and fame, but really, we need to find the communities and tools that work for us.
If you’ve built a massive following on Twitter, I would never suggest you should abandon ship. If you get a thousand Facebook likes every time you post, I would say you’ve made quite a success of yourself.
But if you’re still building your following and you’re wary of spreading yourself too thin across too many platforms, I highly suggest you give LinkedIn a shot.
There’s a whole community of super engaged leaders just waiting for you to join them.
Matthew Oleniuk is an author and speaker who coaches people on how to transform their careers. Grab some free tips on how to redefine your job identity and follow your passion using his free book series at theCareerNomad.com – and don’t forget to connect with him on LinkedIn!