You’re an Expert? Prove It on LinkedIn!

I’ve mentioned this several times before but it’s worth mentioning again. I remember reading a study that suggested people are more likely to purchase something they don’t need from someone they like than they are to purchase something they do need from someone they don’t like. In other words, even if you have the best product or service, if people don’t like you they’ll buy it from someone else or do without. For that reason, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re more than what you’re selling. You’re a person, you’re approachable and you care about the people you’re selling to, right? Then get over to LinkedIn Answers on the double!

LinkedIn Answers is very likely one of the most underused ways of building credibility and generating quality leads for your services and products. Whatever your field, someone’s got a question that you can answer which can easily lead to loyalty, new fans and recommendations as well. What’s more, best answers are selected for each question so every time one of your answers is selected as best, you gain credibility in that field which is visible to others within LinkedIn. You may become the go-to person within your network of connections. Even more, from the questions that are asked, you might determine there’s a need you should be addressing that you hadn’t considered. Perhaps you’ll provide a new webinar, add a new chapter to your book, or add a new service to your portfolio with what you’ve learned. It’s easy so let me show you how in just 3 simple steps.

First, head over to LinkedIn Answers and find a category in which you have some degree of expertise. Remember, you don’t have to be the absolute best of the best in any category; what’s common knowledge to you isn’t to someone else. [Click on any image to view full-size.]LinkedIn

Next, once you’ve selected a category, select the link to the bottom right of the screen to get a feed of the category. If you use Outlook, as I do, you can make it even easier on yourself by pulling your feed directly into Outlook.

As soon as you pull in your feed, depending on what category you selected, you’ll probably have dozens upon dozens, maybe hundreds of questions waiting to be answered. Now you can scroll through them and see which you’d like to answer.Outlook

Here’s the plus. Although you don’t want to come off all pitchy and obvious, this is the perfect place to provide a few (yes, a few) links back to your site if they’re relevant. For instance, for the category I selected in the screenshot, Using LinkedIn, I would always share my website link, but then I can include a link to this post as well or any of my other blog posts regarding how to use LinkedIn. You can almost be sure the person asking the question is going to visit at least once because (s)he’s actively seeking the information and reaching out for answers.

Lastly, jump in and answer some questions. Here’s what’s good about starting with one category. You’re going to discover that the same questions are asked by several different people every single day. That makes it even easier for you to spread your influence. If you answer a question and then come across a similar one as you scroll through your feed, copy and paste that answer (and then edit where necessary) as often as you must. I’ve answered 5 or 6 questions in just this way and, mind you, while I don’t paste the same answer verbatim, this certainly isn’t spamming. The answer to the question is the answer to the question, period. All the person asking wants is the answer and if you have it, that’s good enough for them.

Another tip to have your answer stand out is to not be the first to answer. Very often someone whose answer would not have been nearly as good as yours will piggy-back your answer and add their 2 cents and come across as an authority. No harm, no foul, right? Therefore, if you wait to see a few answers, you can modify yours, if necessary, to expand upon another giving you the upper hand. As an example, I might say, “Judy makes a very good point but that feature only works if you first blah blah blah. I’ve used this several times and it always works.” I was complimentary toward Judy who may also become a fan, but I also demonstrated my knowledge and shared what I know without offending anyone. What’s better is there’s no back-and-forth conversation within the LinkedIn Answers forum so there won’t be any debating between those who’ve answered.

LinkedInAs a final note, you’re not obligated to categories alone.  You can do free searches on anything you can think of.  I just did a random search on cooking and sure enough there’s a question asking what people think of Indian cuisine.  Are you writing a cookbook or do you have a recipe blog?  This could be an outlet for promotion or an outreach to guest bloggers!

Put it on your calendar or to-do list to answer just one question a couple days a week. You’ll be surprised to find that many times you’ll receive a message from the person who asked the question (as seen in the very last screenshot here), or others who saw your answer and the dialogue begins. So, will you challenge yourself today?

As of January 31, 2013 LinkedIn Answers has been shut down.

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