When people ask me if they should be on LinkedIn I always ask, “Is anyone you do business with or want to do business with on LinkedIn?” If the answer is yes, then you need to be on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a very powerful tool when used correctly. But just “being” on LinkedIn is not enough. Having a profile on LinkedIn will get you about the same thing as going to a party and standing in the corner. Someone might come up to you but you can’t expect any results. If you want to get results you have to learn to utilize the tool and interact.
Having a complete profile is the bare minimum. Review your profile. Be sure it is complete and represents you well. I find so many people without a photo. To be effective you need a current headshot. A photo that looks like you so that someone who has met you in person would recognize you.
Next you need connections. A big mistake many people make is connecting with people they don’t know. What good is a long list of people you don’t know? What can you do with it? The idea is to build a strong useful network. One that you can reach out to for help. That means you need to know them and they need to know you, like you and trust you. Only then will the network be useful to you.
Here are my recommendations for building a strong network.
1. Connect with people you know. Start with friends, family and co-workers, then add clients and past clients. Add people you meet networking and people in your professional organizations. Don’t try to connect with people you don’t know. That comes later and it will be much easier and more effective once you have connected with everyone you do know.
2. Make it personal. Always send a personalized note, even if you know the person well. The idea is to connect and build the relationship. Example:
It was great to see you at the business networking event last night. I’d like to talk to you further about the technology group you mentioned. Let’s get connected on LinkedIn so we can share our networks. I look forward to talking again soon.
3.Interact just like you would in real life. Login to LinkedIn daily. Answer emails, post your activity, and check out what people in your network are sharing and click “Like” or make a comment. Find more people you know and get connected.
4. Get involved with some groups. Notice I didn’t say join. Joining is not enough. You won’t get results. You have to get involved in the discussions and share valuable information. When people you don’t know from that group interact with you it gives you a reason to ask them to connect which widens your network. Find professional organizations that you belong to and join their groups on LinkedIn. Join your alumni association. Then search for other groups that would be interesting for you to belong to. This is one of the best ways to connect with people you don’t know.
5. Ask for introductions. If there is someone you don’t know that you want to be connected with find someone who knows you, likes you and trusts you to introduce you. This is much more effective than sending a connection request to someone who doesn’t know you. To increase the likelihood of being connected to people you don’t know by someone you do, you have to spend time getting connected and strengthening relationships with people you know. So go back to point 1 and 2 above.
Once you have done these things, LinkedIn will be a powerful way to stay connected with people you know, develop stronger relationships and get connected with people you want to know.
Read more to learn how to get people to follow your company on LinkedIn.
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