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Leveraging LinkedIn to Research Consultants

Posted on 10.31.2013

With so many challenges involved with running online enterprises, many small business owners turn to consultants to help with their digital initiatives. 

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 225 million members in more than 220 countries and territories around the globe – making it a pretty fantastic (and free) way for small business owners to research someone they are considering going into business with. 

Here are five tips to consider when leveraging LinkedIn to research digital consultants: 

1. Connect With Them

In order to view a professional’s complete profile, a small business owner will likely (unless the profile is public) need to ask the person to join his or her professional network by sending an invitation to connect. By connecting with a digital consultant on LinkedIn, he or she may take it as a sign that the small business owner is doing his or her due diligence before selecting an advisor – that’s a good thing!

2. Look for Profile “Completeness

LinkedIn offers a percentage of completeness to its users, and while a small business owner won’t be able to see this number for anyone other than himself, it’s good to make sure a digital consultant has, at the very least, a profile picture, a current position listed, connections and have a custom URL (e.g. linkedin.com/yournamehere). Any digital consultant worth their virtual salt will know the importance of a complete (and optimized) LinkedIn profile. 

3. Check Out Supporting Evidence

Digital consultants who claim to be experts on, let’s say, social media, should have past or current positions that gave them experience on the subject. Additionally, their other contacts may have endorsed them for social media or even written nice references about their social media work. Similarly, if someone claims to be a content marketing expert, one would expect to see links to past articles, white papers, etc. These items are easy to add into LinkedIn and people in the know take advantage of this platform to showcase their achievements – especially ones making a living off of their expertise. 

4.Message a Former Coworker/Client

This may be over the top for some, but many LinkedIn users allow messages from people outside of their networks – providing a perfect opportunity to message a digital consultant’s connections. A small business owner could ask the person if they’d mind answering some questions about “so and so” because he is considering hiring them on as an independent consultant. A “no reply” shouldn’t be taken as negative, but most people will take a couple minutes to tell someone how wonderful a person is if they truly believe it. 

5. Listen to Your Gut

Intuition is a powerful force that shouldn’t be ignored. If something isn’t quite adding up or doesn’t feel right, it’s typically best to walk away. 

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