Happy New Year.

Over the last month, my corporate clients have bombarded me with requests for my predictions about what is ahead for LinkedIn.

I don't think you'll find a more iStock_000051660800Smallpassionate LinkedIn student than me, and my goal each week is to help you use LinkedIn more effectively. Therefore, trying to guess what LinkedIn will do next is not high on my priority list.

So, rather than predict how many times they're going to change the profile, what new features they will add or remove, and how long they'll take to roll out the new features, I'm going to make one overarching prediction for 2015:

The gap between people and companies that really understand LinkedIn and are seeing results and those that don't get it and aren't seeing results will continue to widen--to the point where some people will actually give up and may even abandon the site.

And here's what I have to say to people in the latter group: It's okay. There are lots of other ways to accomplish the five things that LinkedIn is really good at--marketing, branding, networking, communicating, and researching people--so move on to some other methods that feel right to you.

But if you're really starting to understand LinkedIn and it's one of your tools of choice to accomplish some or all of those five tasks, here are some best practices to kickstart your new year. I've also included a few questions to help you discover where you should focus your efforts to improve your results.

Compose and Curate

By looking at the changes that took place in 2014, it's clear that LinkedIn is sticking with their overall desire to be the definitive platform for all business information and learning. This expectation and the tools they have given us (publishing long-form articles, sharing updates, group discussions, media, and profile links) put each of us--and the companies we work for--in the driver's seat for writing and sharing.

  • Have you and/or your company identified the in-house experts who have the knowledge and ability to write and share information that will show the world you're an expert in your industry?
  • Also, have you identified other industry experts whose information you can share with your network?

Connect and Categorize

Connections are the gas in your LinkedIn tank, and, just like the different types of gas at the gas station, you can select the higher octane for better performance. Consistently adding more of the right gas to your LinkedIn tank will improve your performance. Also, coming up with a system to categorize your connections--both at the individual level and the company level--will pay off when it comes to communicating with your network.

  • Have you documented the types of people you want to connect with and the groups you want to join?
  • Once you have made a LinkedIn connection, is there a system in place to categorize that person by the types of information he or she may want to receive from you and your company?

Coordinate and Capitalize

Consistency is one of the cornerstones of a good marketing strategy. By coordinating your team's efforts, you can amplify your marketing message and reach a much larger audience. This can be done by promoting use of the correct keywords and consistent branding statements as well as leveraging group activities and posting/sharing.

Leverage your existing marketing assets (brochures, video, white papers, case studies, etc.) by displaying and sharing them both on your individual LinkedIn profile and your company page.

  • Have you developed a consistent LinkedIn company guideline yet?
  • Has your company provided a LinkedIn training session, including an open discussion of best practices already being used by you or members of your team?
  • Have you taken an inventory of the marketing and educational assets already in place and put together a plan to expand the inventory in 2015?

Now, which side of the gap will you and your company be on at the end of 2015? Will your LinkedIn efforts produce extraordinary results this year or will you feel like giving up?

If you have a specific LinkedIn challenge or you need help developing a LinkedIn strategy that will skyrocket your earnings this year, let's set up a consulting call, a webinar for your team, or maybe a live event for your company and/or your clients. Feel free to contact me directly at wayne@powerformula.net or (414) 313-7785 or check out my online course Explode Your Revenues Using LinkedIn.