Written originally for Women in Consulting.
LinkedIn has become the go-to social network for business.
Okay, you’ve been listening and learning some social networking tips. Maybe you’ve attended my webinar, or one of my classes. You’ve done your homework. You have a great profile on LinkedIn, including:
- Professional headline with your key words/talents
- Customized URL
- Labeled company website
- Compelling summary that uniquely positions you and includes keywords for your specialties
- Current job listed with your key words/talents listed
- Past jobs listed with your key words/talents
- Additional sections (associations, volunteer work, books, etc.) that show what else you bring to the table)
- A good number of recommendations
- Well on your way to 500 connections, each of them tagged or with notes so you know who they all are!
Can you sit back now and watch the leads and job offers come pouring in? Sorry, not quite, but now you’re ready to begin taking advantage of the power of LinkedIn. With sustained effort, LinkedIn can become a good source of leads and referrals, and you should consider it an important part of your marketing or job search efforts. Set aside 20-30 minutes every day for LinkedIn and follow these social networking tips to get the most from this platform. Set a timer so you don’t get carried away and come to fear it as a time bandit.
1) Reach out and touch someone. The updates section on your home page is a good source of ideas. If someone has changed jobs, send them a message to congratulate them and ask how it’s going. If someone has listed an interesting link to a professional article, comment on it.
2) Write something in your own status update, such as a link to an interesting article in your field, a mention of an association event that’s coming up that would be worth attending, etc. There are lots to ways to approach this and it’s different for each person. Do not regularly use this space for self-promotion. It’s okay if you’re doing something truly noteworthy such as speaking at an event, publishing a book or adding a new service, but you will lose credibility if you do this too often.
3) Write an unsolicited recommendation for one of your connections. Of course that person will be flattered and think even more highly of you, but there’s more. Assuming they “accept” your recommendation so that it shows on their page, you will now show up in the updates to their connections and be permanently on their page and show up to everyone looking at their profile. If you write a recommendation for a vendor, all his/her clients will see your recommendation – and they might be potential clients for you. If you recommend former co-worker now at a new company, once again you’re now in front of their connections. Do this with sincerity and it’s a win for everyone involved.
4) Request a recommendation. Tell the person what you’d like them to mention.
5) Look at your groups and see if there are questions you can answer.
6) Add a company to the ones you are following.
7) Pay it forward. The queen of social networking tips and author of “I’m at a Networking Event – Now What?”, Sandy Jones-Kaminski, has many wonderful suggestions about paying it forward via networking and all of her advice also applies to online networking. Side note: I met Sandy through LinkedIn. She reached out to me when she saw I was teaching LinkedIn and offered to send me her book. She practices what she teaches! Here are some ways to pay it forward:
- Offer to introduce a connection to someone who might be helpful to them.
- Call a connection (limit the time) and offer to go to a networking event with them.
- Buy a copy of Sandy’s book and give it to a connection you’d like to take to a networking event (or read it first and then pass it along.)
- Forward a useful link – a free webinar or low-cost event that’s coming up.
8) Identify a prospect you might like to talk to who is connected to someone you know. Pick up the phone and ask your contact if they would be willing to introduce you to one of their connections.
9) Look at the companies you’re following. Identify one where there might be a business opportunity or someone you to whom you might want to connect, and pursue it.
10) Following these social networking tips, chances are you’ll probably see someone you know and haven’t yet connected with. Send a personalized connection request. Never use the default form email LinkedIn offers you.
A complete LinkedIn profile is like a good website or a good resume – useful but not worth much unless you do something to drive traffic to your site or to call you for an interview. Try one or two of these social networking tips and start harnessing the real power of LinkedIn. Connect with me (tell me why you’d like to connect) on LinkedIn, and let me know how it goes!