LinkedIn is an amazing platform that I owe a lot of my success to. Many of my career critical relationships and deals have been born through LinkedIn. Opportunities for building life-changing connections via LinkedIn are endless. You just need to know how to leverage the platform effectively. Foolishly, a lot of people are either misusing the space or aren’t getting as much as they could. Here are a couple of my cheats to using the platform to make your dreams a reality.
Okay, don’t add everyone, but add everyone that you’ve actually met and interacted with. Think of LinkedIn as your digital Rolodex. When you meet people and collect their business card immediately search for them on LinkedIn. Don’t wait—send the request as soon as possible so that you’re fresh in their mind, especially when you meet someone with a lot of influence.
If you absolutely have to cold add someone, make sure they’ve likely at least heard of you and that you have something in common. Ideally, you went to the same college, have done business with their company (or past company) or work in the same industry. Include a quick note highlighting what you have in common and why you’re connecting, keep it short. This gives you the best opportunity for them to be equally interested in connecting with you and accepting your request.
Expanding your network is exceptionally helpful when trying to connect with someone you try to do business with. The more connections you have and especially the more connections you have in common, even 2nd and 3rd degree connections, validates you and increases your credibility and the likelihood that they will connect with you.
Don’t be desperate
Avoid using “Looking for an opportunity” or “Expert at networking” in your title. It can come off desperate and over-eager. For example, in dating, you don’t go up to someone and say “I’ve been single for 5 months, pick me”. Let your connections and former achievements speak itself.
And when you’re building this compelling profile, remember to keep it light. No one wants to read a page long resume detailing everything you’ve ever done at every place you’ve ever worked, interned or went to school. It’s better to be short and sweet. Quickly describe who you are, where you work (or worked) and your top achievements. The rest will speak for itself. If your work is good, people will reach out.
Use InMail Intelligently
One of premier features of a Premium LinkedIn account is the ability to message folks that you aren’t connected to, InMail. Try not to go crazy with it—you have to use it intelligently. People generally hate cold emails, so try to find a conversation starter. Do some research. Maybe you went to the same university, attended a similar event or have mutual friends, that’s usually a good place to start. Nothing annoys me more than when someone I don’t know InMails me and and has nothing relevant to me to say. That tells me either, they didn’t research who I am or they are copying and pasting the same message to several people.
Remember, LinkedIn is a networking platform, it’s a place to connect with people and build relationships. Someone’s InMail box is not the place to pitch them your product or latest business idea. It doesn’t hurt to have these specific partnerships in mind, but the goal is to connect with folks and build a relationship that you can take offline. Offline is the place to make your sale.
Ever wonder how people become “industry thought leaders”? You literally just start writing—producing content and mass distributing it on platforms like LinkedIn. Produce content that people in your industry can use and will want to share. It has to be both valuable and helpful. The more content you create and the more it gets shared, people will start to see your name more and more. It’s brand exposure for your name.
I wrote several pieces that I published on LinkedIn that have become wildly popular. People often reference them when they meet me.
Pro-Tip: Avoid publishing your personal or political opinions on LinkedIn—keep it professional. You can take you rants to Facebook.
Keep In Touch
I think one of the biggest failures I see in how people use LinkedIn is not re-engaging with their connections. I see it all the time—you meet someone at a conference or event, you say let’s keep in touch, you add them on LinkedIn and you never speak to them again. The trick here is follow through, actually keep in touch.
Send a message as soon as you get home. A simple message saying that it was great meeting and talking to them will do. Then periodically reach back out, offer to take them out to coffee or dinner. Every time I’m traveling, I do a quick scan through my LinkedIn connections to see who I know that’s in town. Then I make an effort to try to catch up with them. Even if they are busy or our schedules don’t link up, the fact that I made the effort speaks volumes! People remember that!
The point of LinkedIn is not to add as many people as possible so you can look popular (this isn’t Instagram). The point is to make connections, build your professional network and then leverage that network. The world of LinkedIn is a place where anything can happen, where all your professional dreams can come true. I know this because mine have.
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