Whether you’re looking for a business lead, job, or good people to hire, everyone needs to network. Years ago, it was very difficult, even exhausting, to do just one of those things. That was before LinkedIn, which is like an online chamber mixer. The advantage now is that everyone can see who you are and what you’re about before they ever speak to you. LinkedIn is a professional networking/social media site that launched on May 5, 2003, and as of June 2013, reported more than 259 million users in over 200 countries and territories. It took only 494 days for them to reach 1 million users! There are countless articles out there on how it can be used for job hunting, and lots of information on the basic things everyone should be doing. I’d like to focus on tips that I use, and you can use them to grow your business.
Yes, you have a photo, but is it an effective photo for LinkedIn networking?
Keep in mind that this is the first impression of you that people see. Beyond the people who don’t have a photo (you know who you are), if you don’t smile or you take a selfie in your car on the way to work, it might say the wrong thing about you. When setting up that all-important first meeting, it could be the only thing an important contact who never met you before has to find you inside a crowded cafe. Check out some of these listed apps to help improve your photos and our blog post on the importance of great photography.
LinkedIn is really a social platform, so be social.
No one will connect with you if there isn’t anything there to connect with. And nobody wants a sales pitch or elevator speech. A better approach is to try to connect with them on a social level and build rapport. Either by talking about shared contacts or groups, work experience, or news that’s happening to them or their company. You need to give something people can talk back to you about. No need to worry! If there’s a genuine interest in your product or service, people will check out your profile and contact you.
Be someone everybody wants to be friends with.
Sharing relevant news about you, your industry, and/or your company is a great way to build up a loyal following and an important step in LinkedIn networking. Create updates that really target the people you want to connect with. This will help you to build up a “personality” that more of the same type of professionals will gravitate towards, and ultimately, seek you out to connect with. Now, who doesn’t want to be popular?
Only “add” people you would want to meet.
Some think the ultimate goal is to reach the all-important 500+ connections in whatever way possible. To do this, they go through and connect with every single person that will accept their invite. The problem is that when you do your updates, a majority will have no interest in what you’re talking about. What’s better? Go to “Add Connections” and look for people that you would actually want to meet in person. LinkedIn learns about who you’re connecting with. If you connect with a lot of marketing people, they will serve you with more and more potential marketing connections AND an added bonus – they will be in your geographic area. Better leads, close to home are the main goal of any LinkedIn networking master.
Personalize, personalize, personalize.
When you share an article, give some personal insight. When you’re asking to connect with someone, write a custom invitation request specifically for that person. When updating your profile, make it simple, easy to use, and memorable.
Is upgrading to Premium necessary to become a LinkedIn networking master?
There are many features that the premium plan offers, but for me, InMail is worth it all by itself. You can contact anyone you want without previously knowing them or being introduced. And they guarantee a response within a certain timeframe or they give you back the InMail credits you used to send it. That’s really worth it when you’re trying to connect with someone you really want to connect with; a respected vendor, a big-shot recruit, or that high-value prospect you can’t get through to.
Now, am I a LinkedIn networking master? No. Actually, LinkedIn considers me an Expert, one level below All-Star, which is the top level. I actually have work to do on my own profile. It’s really about experimenting with ways to reach and connect with people, finding those methods that work well, and then refining them until LinkedIn is working FOR you. That’s really mastering LinkedIn networking!