LinkedIn yields connections
LinkedIn has been around since 2006, drawing in 380 million global users along the way. Yet farmer usage remains relatively low: An August 2015 Farm Journal Media survey shows only 16% of respondents use the business-oriented social media service.
It’s easy to understand why. LinkedIn is popular among businesspeople, who use the platform to post their online résumé, leverage skills to gain credibility in their industry and seek out a new career.
Chances are, most producers aren’t actively job hunting, nor do they have a pressing need to compile
an updated resume.
Still, farm managers can reap the same business rewards by staying active on LinkedIn, explains Colorado farmer Benton Hendrix.
“Farming is a business—we just have different inputs and outputs,” Hendrix says. “It is an opportunity to connect with and follow colleagues, suppliers, purchasers and thought leaders in this industry and in other businesses.”
Hendrix initially joined LinkedIn to reconnect with college classmates. He has since expanded his contact list to include other professionals. It also gives him visibility when others look for agriculture information, sometimes from across the globe.
“Earlier this year, a kidney bean buyer from China found me on LinkedIn and sent a message asking to talk further,” he says. “Since then, we have exchanged a number of messages through the service. Without LinkedIn, we would never have found each other.”
Beginner Tips. LinkedIn is the perfect place to expand professional connections, notes Tom Buman, CEO of Iowa-based Agren, which develops precision ag software with a focus on conservation.
“If I need to make a new contact, I go there first,” he says. Increasingly, he sees farmers testing the waters on LinkedIn because they have discovered they can talk directly with experts in the industry.
“A lot of information that farmers get ends up being second-handed or filtered,” Buman points out. “[With LinkedIn], they can get that direct link firsthand.”
First-time LinkedIn users should start with a simple tour. Setup takes a few minutes. Users must populate their profile page with a photo and some basic information on education, career experiences and skills.
Next, producers can sift through potential business connections and request to connect with people they might know. Many users approach requests with the “business card rule of thumb”—in other words, if you haven’t done the equivalent of a business card exchange with someone in the real world, an online request might not be appropriate.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn has a news feed for sharing updates. You can even connect with brands such as Top Producer and businesses such as Farm Journal Media.
5 Ways to Look Your Best on LinkedIn
Do you want a LinkedIn profile that pops? Matt Kapko, senior writer at CIO.com, shares these tips to help users maximize their experience.
1. Don’t be shy.
Commenting or liking updates from other users will increase your visibility.
2. Join a LinkedIn group.
It will help build your reputation.
3. Review who has viewed your profile.
Be sure to check in on who’s been checking in.
4. Focus on quality.
The more relevant your network is, the more use you will get out of it.
5. Find your voice.
Showcase your specific blend of expertise.