You’d have to be living in a vacuum not to acknowledge the all-encompassing influence of social media. The bandwagon is ever-expanding and -accommodating to all who are willing to jump aboard. Those who opt in are finding it an enjoyable means of keeping current in a hectic and fast-paced world. But what keeps most people from getting off the starting block, or inhibits the dabbler from becoming the dedicated user?
It all comes down to -- what else? -- time.
Regarding social, there are things we can and can’t control. First, we decide on the extent to which we will participate on these platforms. We then match these activities to our needs and determine what emphasis, if any, that social will play in the course of our daily lives. We choose the type of user experience we want and then set our parameters. We view, listen, monitor, react and -- when the time is right -- communicate. The one thing we can’t manage -- or control -- is the ticking clock.
Think about how you engage on social media for business. LinkedIn, still a mystery for many, is the de facto social networking site for professionals. It’s one thing to learn LinkedIn; it’s entirely another to learn how to generate revenue by using it. Becoming intuitive, efficient and productive on LinkedIn takes a time investment many are simply not willing to make.
If you have made a conscious choice to get good at LinkedIn, or at least more nimble on it, you may find your objectives -- ambitious as they may be -- are outweighed by the number of hours in a day. I have a few suggestions for you.
Attach Value to your LinkedIn Efforts
Before any discussion on time management strategy can take place, you need to assess valuation to physically being in front of the computer and logged into your LinkedIn account for extended periods. This value has a monetary component that can provide a true ROI framework. Since your only investment is your time, what is your return on that investment? Without assigning value to your LinkedIn activities, how will you determine its worth? Based on how your transactions are structured, calculate your hourly rate. Transfer that numerical equivalent to one hour a day on LinkedIn. If, as a result, you are able to cultivate business opportunities, position yourself for more transactions and shorten your sales cycle, then I’d say that is a more-than-fair tradeoff for those 60 minutes, wouldn’t you?
Learn LinkedIn in Increments
The time question comes up at every presentation I make: “J.D., how much time do I need to devote to LinkedIn per day?” I used to say an hour a day would be a good benchmark or end goal, and that was met with a great deal of resistance. Nowadays I do a great many seminars and workshops for time-strapped high-level executives, professional service providers and top salespeople -- all who simply cannot afford to misallocate an hour of their already compromised time budgets. If your schedule prohibits you from taking a continuous hour on LinkedIn, then embrace the egg-timer approach and do it in three-minute increments. A series of faithfully executed surgical strikes on LinkedIn throughout the day can be just as effective as a sustained period of time on the site.
Keep your LinkedIn Profile Current and Compelling
Your LinkedIn profile is your action center. This is where potential clients, existing customers, colleagues and would-be connections access you. When optimized for search, your LinkedIn profile can be your most prized digital asset. If you haven't taken the opportunity to address all areas of your page, do so in daily doses. Take a few moments to improve, modify or update the content on your LinkedIn profile. Articulate your service offering, echo a call to action and let your visitors know where and how they can reach you.
Long story short: To do justice to anything, be it in business or in life, you need to be diligent, vigilant and focused. Unless you put forth a genuine and concerted effort, free from distraction or temptation, the actual number of minutes that you spend on LinkedIn is immaterial. You won’t gain proficiency on the site. Once you build up a nice momentum on LinkedIn by working it every day and making it a habit, you will begin to see good things happen in your business. At that point, it gets fun and you might just find it difficult to stop. An hour won’t be long enough.
J.D. GERSHBEIN, CEO of OWLISH COMMUNICATIONS, is a specialist in the Art and Science of LinkedIn. He is a trusted asset to top executives, managers, entrepreneurs, professional service providers, salespeople, and those involved in the search for their next great opportunity. J.D. offers unrivaled strategic direction to individuals and firms -- ranging from small to medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) to Fortune 500 companies -- in using LinkedIn to build brand and generate revenue. Dubbed “LinkedIn’s #1 Brand Ambassador” and “The LinkedIn Black Belt,” J.D. is considered one of the top LinkedIn strategists in the world and a pioneer in the design and delivery of LinkedIn educational programs. A highly sought-after international speaker, J.D. draws upon his background in marketing communications, industrial psychology, neuroscience, improvisational comedy and broadcast media to inspire opportunity-oriented professionals in all walks of business. J.D. is also an Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart Graduate School of Business where he teaches the school’s first-ever course in social media. His first book, a treatise on communication for social business, will be available in early 2012.