I hate to admit it, but at the start of 2010, I avoided social media and specifically LinkedIn – not fully understanding how it worked. Then I saw the light – well specifically Iggy Pintado, who showed me the error of my social media ways – and as they say – the rest is history. Am very proud to say that 12 months down the track – I am very close to 2200 connections and growing. Mind you Iggy has well over 18,000 and rapidly growing, so I have a long way to go. In my networking presentations, I have been asking how many people are on LinkedIn – interestingly these days more than 50% raise their hands. Then my second question is, keep your hand up if you have more than 500 connections on LinkedIn. Less than 10% of the people fit this catergory. When I tell people I have over 2,000 connections and have built those in 12 months, the question is often HOW did you do that?
So what have I learned about LinkedIn in the last twelve months?
13 things I know for sure:
1. Definitely upgrade to the premium account – lots more benefits and features.
2. Spend at least 30 minutes per day on LinkedIn. I am currently spending three to five hours per week and I have to admit some days I miss out totally and catch up the next day. One of the great things about LinkedIn is that its a 24/7 facility so if I am travelling or on a different time zone, I can access it at anytime of day. Something that I often do on weekends, while I am watching a DVD or television show is to multi-task by scanning connections lists and sending invitations.
Mind you the first time I actually looked through someone’s connection list, I felt like I was prying. Then I realised that was how the system worked – and it ceases to amaze me the mutual connections that you can have with a new or old connection.
3. Visibility is key with LinkedIn – so the more active you are the better. I enjoy answering questions obviously that I know the answer to or have an opinion on. There seem to be two schools of thought with Q&A – some just go for volume answers to lots and lots of questions - the more the merrier, but not always relevant or significant responses. Others seem to just answer a few questions here and there, but give thoughtful answers. I would describe myself in that category. And some people don’t participate at all. Again it depends on your personal interests and time availability – but I am always looking to learn new things and share information where I can.
4. Also what I have found is that often the people whose questions you answer, strike up a communication with you and often invite you to connect with them and vice versa. Plus the responses that have already been given, give you insight into other people, whose opinions you agree or disagree with. And of course you can ask questions as well.
5. Polls are another great LinkedIn tool - I have run a few polls to date and have been pleased with the results. Obviously it depends what question you want to ask and how relevant it is to the general public. I have found viewing the results of polls you answer very interesting and often people make contact after your responses. Again an opportunity to expand your network.
6. Active participation in groups is also another great way to expand your connections. I try to be an active member in the groups I am part of, whether it is just keeping track of the current conversations and discussions or starting discussions myself. One of the discussions that had the greatest response was the suggestion that smart networking was linking and connecting with each other, so that the group would continue to expand. Many of the groups also have opportunities to promote your business under a specific promotion button. And these days LinkedIn recommends groups that you may be interested in.
7. Spending time on your profile page is also avaluable use of time. The old saying – the more you tell the more you sell – really nails it here. You just don’t know who is clicking on your profile and where that may lead to. Again LinkedIn has a great system where it shows you how much of the profile you have completed. Aim for 100% profile completion.
8. In my networking presentations, I always recommend that people aim to give at least one referral per week to someone in your network. LinkedIn has a great tool where you can give a recommendation to someone you know. To me this is a testimonial, which in the networking world is almost as good as a referral. I aim to send testimonials regularly to my connections.
I have a theory though, the people who ASK for testimonials are not good at giving them. I have proven this theory a number of times by checking someone’s profile and seeing how many recommendations they give. So often, I remind the person requesting a recommendation from me, of the law of reciprocity – what you give out comes back ten fold. If you want recommendations start giving recommendations.
9. Events is another great LinkedIn feature. Not only do you get to see what events are happening in your area, you can also promote your events. I have been running Writing For Busy People 1 day workshops for the last six months and have connected with people via LinkedIn – that I may never have crossed paths with elsewhere.
10. Just a word of advice when sending invitations to connect. Lazy networking is sending the standard – I’d like you to join my professional network. I think one of the reasons that my connections has grown is that I use a variety of invitation styles:
a. for people who I knew years ago, I write – A blast from the past – great to find you on LI, hope all is well in your world. All the best for 2011. Would like to add you to my professional network.
b. for people who are part of a group I am in . We are both members of XYZ group, have checked out your profile and would like you to join my network.
c. a word of warning with classifying people as friends. I have researched people’s responses when they receive an invitation to connect with someone they describe as “friend” – A really important point is that LinkedIn is NOT facebook. If you dont know someone or you have only vaguely met them – don’t click “friend”. I am blessed to meet lots of great people when I speak all over the country, but “friends” are people who I speak to regularly, usually call at least once every couple of weeks and see once a month. So just be careful with your classifications and if in doubt don’t.
11. Another system I use probably 80% of the time these days, unless I am very busy – is to send a message to the person who has invited me to connect. Usually something like – “thanks for inviting me to connect. If you would like to download some complimentary networking articles and ebooks, you might like to visit www.networkingtowin.com.au” . I didn’t do this probably for the first 1000 connections, silly me – but now I do and this has definitely increased my website traffic.
12. If you google your name, often your LinkedIn details are the first listings to come up. It then makes sense the more connections you have the more visible your profile.
13. Seth Godin is well known for his “build your tribe” theory and I totally agree with this theory. Some say, go for quality not quantity, how can you know all these people? However, I believe that the stronger you grow your connections, the more you expand your connections, the closer you bring the world to your doorstep.
All the best with building your LinkedIn connections, and if you are not part of my network, please send me an invitation.
Happy networking until next time.