LinkedIn has traditionally been viewed as a job-searching tool by many people. With more than 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn, it is easy to have that perception. LinkedIn even notes on their site that this particular group is the fastest-growing demographic. With that, LinkedIn is still a powerful tool for people who are established in their careers and looking to make work-related connections.
Unfortunately, many people do not use LinkedIn well. They may set up an account and forget about it, never logging in to add updates. Or they send invitations to connect with people simply to increase the number of their connections, not understanding that LinkedIn is not a numbers game. In this post I walk you through some weekly tasks to help you make the most of your LinkedIn network. Doing these things on a regular schedule will help you establish and grow a meaningful network.
Make a Meaningful Connection During and After a Meeting
Let’s first step back and think about how you connect with people at in-person networking meetings. Are you simply collecting business cards and viewing these events solely as way to gain as many names as possible for your sales database? If so, it’s time to change your approach and view these meetings as opportunities to find ways to help other people, and learn about what kind of work they do, instead of the traditional mindset of collecting names so you can sell, sell, sell. When you change your approach to one of giving rather than taking, your connections on LinkedIn will be much more valuable. When you leave an event and log on to LinkedIn later in the day to connect, refrain from sending the generic follow up, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” That is not the best approach and yes, I’m guilty of going that route on several occasions. However, a more successful invite will be specific for that contact as well as sincere.
Here’s an example, “Hi [name], I enjoyed meeting you at the luncheon today. You mentioned an interest in [topic] and I wanted to tell you about [event] happening next week. It looks like something that may be relevant to your business.” This example is a short, simple message, yet it conveys much more than the generic invitation.
1) Using the individual’s name shows that you were thinking of them and not just blindly sending requests.
2) You’re reminding them where they met you.
3) You indicated that you were really listening during the conversation by bringing up a topic they discussed with you over lunch.
4) You are sharing info about an event that may be of interest to them.
This could still be someone you want to sell to at some point, so that doesn’t mean you can no longer sell through your networking efforts. What you’re doing first, though, is establishing a trustworthy connection with someone, which makes them more open to connecting with you online and in person again in the future.
Add Unique, Business Related Updates
LinkedIn is a business network. It’s not the best place to share pictures of your pets or cute things your kids have done. Provide status updates on LinkedIn that are business related. It’s okay to include information that’s self-promotional such as a training you are providing or an event you are hosting. However, the same rules apply across all social media channels so you don’t want everything to be about you.
If you’re stuck on what you can post that adds value, think about some leaders you admire and whose blogs you may follow. When you see an interesting post they wrote, share that on your LinkedIn network. Maybe post about a book you’re reading that has been helpful to you. To really add value, use content that’s not on your other social channels. If you blast the exact same updates to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other channels you use, there is no reason for anyone to follow what you share on LinkedIn. Although you may repurpose content, make sure there is something new coming from your LinkedIn profile.
Check Your Update Feed and Comment
Take some time to read the updates from people in your network. You can easily scan the latest posts similar to what you would do on Facebook. This could also be a place for you to find content to share out which promotes other people in your network. If people are looking for feedback, take a minute to comment on their update. It shows that you are interested in other people and are seeking to provide value rather than focusing only on what you have to say.
These three tips are good habits to develop for your LinkedIn activities. They are not terribly time consuming and making a point to be active at least once a week will result in a powerful network of mutually beneficial relationships.