With more than 100 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is more than a digital resume database. It’s the world’s largest online professional network. Many event planners swear by it, ahead of Facebook and Twitter, and with good reason. The ever-evolving site has a host of applications and functions to promote events, engage with attendees, and strengthen the relationship between your brand and your audience.
Be focused and selective when first creating a profile. “People want to quickly make a decision on [whether or not] you’re worth their time,” says Eve Mayer Orsburn, CEO of Social Media Delivered and author of “Social Media for the CEO.” “It’s up to you in the top portion of the profile to tell them who you are, why you’re important and what you can do for them.” Try capturing your audience’s attention with compelling data: your location and expertise, the largest event you’ve planned, or details on an event that came in under budget while exceeding your client’s expectations.
Get the most out of recommendations—the function that allows colleagues, clients and supervisors to publicly endorse your work. When asking a connection for a reference, include a brief, personal note mentioning how much you’ve enjoyed working with the person and politely request a recommendation. “Make sure recommendations come from people who [can] tell the story of how amazing you are to work with, what incredible events you plan, what kind of ROI those events had and what kind of branding you achieved,” says Orsburn.
LinkedIn has applications that can be added to a homepage and profile to enhance the service’s functionality. If you’re on Twitter, consider adding the Tweets application to sync tweets and status updates. “I suggest including the hashtag [#] and ‘in’ at the end of the tweet,” says Orsburn. “Only those tweets with the ‘in’ tag also will display on LinkedIn.” She warns against putting too much personal information on the site, though. It’s OK to share something about the 5K you’re running this weekend for a nonprofit or other local organization, but the professional networking site is not a place for the details of a guys’ weekend to Las Vegas.
Planners also can set up profiles for their organizations or businesses. If you’re marketing your business as an independent event planner, decide whether you need a separate page for your business or if your profile serves as its own business page.
When you begin marketing, create an event on LinkedIn to invite connections and enlist them to spread the word. “Tap into the client base and ask clients to respond as ‘attending’ so that they are also showing this synced event on their profiles,” says Orsburn.
Built-in site features and applications help with marketing efforts. “Pose provocative questions [with Answers] and start a conversation around your event,” says McGonnigal. “Populate that content before, during and after events by surfing the answers that are relevant to the event’s subject matter and posting answers leading people to your event.”
Gail Martin, author of “30 Days to Social Media Success,” recommends MyTravel and Portfolio applications. “MyTravel lets you see where your network is traveling and when you’ll be in the same city. It’s a fantastic tool for connecting with people when you may not otherwise be geographically located close to each other.” She suggests using Portfolio to post YouTube-sized clips of your events and energized crowds at events as a permanent reference point. “People who can’t attend get the highlights, photos and video, and if they think that’s really valuable, [it will] go on their mental calendars,” she says.
McGonnigal encourages planners to “max out” on groups. Belonging to a group allows you to view other members’ profiles and message them directly—two things you normally can’t do. This offers an advantage when looking for industry peers or vendors. “Engage with [group members] about the subject matter your event covers to build relationships with them in a way that’s not purchasing banners or advertising,” he says. “Use groups as an ongoing touch point between your brand and representatives of relevant associations and groups.”