By Bill Corbett
Recently I wrote Part 1 of “Steps to Become a Successful and Powerful LinkedIn User,” in which I outlined some important strategies. Creating a plan and strategy for using LinkedIn and creating a personal marketing plan are essential in growing a business and having a personal brand that will resonate. Spending focused time and energy on LinkedIn will enhance relationships, build trust and create awareness that will assist you to achieve your promotional, business and career goals.
Here are five additional steps to take to become a power LinkedIn user:
Who to connect with? – You should consider connecting with almost everyone. However, keep a sharp eye out for people who are not serious LinkedIn users or those who are likely to place you on a sales solicitation or an e-mail marketing list. There are easy ways to determine if someone is a good connection or not. Some of the immediate red flags are: no photo or one of poor quality; no status update activity; few endorsements; few contacts; no personal “who I am” details in the profile, and ambiguity about what it is the person actually does. When reviewing a new potential contact, consider whether the person could be an ally or a competitor. For example, some attorneys want to connect with other attorneys, but marketing professionals may not want to connect with their competitors located down the block.
When you are approached to connect with people you don’t know or with whom you are casually acquainted, you must ask them to provide you with more information. Questions should be posed to them. Ask questions such as: Who do you want to meet? Whom do you network with? Whom are your ideal clients? This process also gives you the opportunity to tell them who you are and who you want to meet. We have found that those who are not serious LinkedIn users never respond to these requests. This nonresponse is a good indication that they will not communicate in the future. If they will not engage, they are likely not interested in developing a relationship. If the individual responds to the questions posed, move forward and connect or ask additional questions. Whom you are connected with is important. You will develop relationships with these individuals and connect them to others on LinkedIn. Starting relationships the right way creates the right foundation of trust.
Bring real world networking into the LinkedIn cyber world – The process of networking, meeting people and developing business relationships, existed long before LinkedIn. However, LinkedIn offers a platform that can be used strategically to enhance and facilitate real world networking. LinkedIn can make networking and networking follow-up more effective. Most importantly, when used strategically, LinkedIn can speed up the relationship development process. Basically, LinkedIn will assist in building trust, which is essential in the business relationship growth process. Without trust there is no relationship. How do you use LinkedIn to build trust? Start by bringing your real world contacts into the online LinkedIn world. Often the first step in the networking process is meeting and talking with new people at events or meetings in the real world. You will collect business cards and begin communicating.
One easy way to bring the people you meet in the real world into your LinkedIn world is to use the mobile app produced by LinkedIn called CardMunch. Use this app to scan the business cards you receive. The app makes it easy to send a connection request and quickly connect with people. This can all be done using your smartphone on the road or even during a networking event.
Groups – Strategically pick the groups you join. If you have limited time, pick two or three groups where you can be very active. Remember to join groups that offer a target-rich environment for business development and potential referral sources. If you are an accountant and rarely get referrals from other accountants, limit your membership in groups that are geared toward accounting professionals. Find groups where you can demonstrate your expertise and connect with individuals that fit your ideal client or ideal referral source profile.
Regionally focused groups should be considered. Even if every person in the group is not an ideal direct prospect or referral source, relationships matter. Having contacts and connections in different business sectors will allow you to connect to people looking for a wide variety of services or solutions. Groups are where you can build a reputation as a giver and provider of information as well as share connections. When you can assist individuals advance their career, help them solve a business issue or most importantly drive business to them, they will remember you and your efforts. This strategy is one of the most effective business lead generators available to networkers.
Recommendations and Endorsements – LinkedIn users benefit from recommendations from individuals whom they have worked or whom they know. Recommendations help to reinforce the value of individual skills, abilities and services that can be provided. We have suggested that to be effective on LinkedIn users should secure one to four recommendations each month. This shows continuous activity and makes it known to your contacts that you are somebody that people like and respect working with. Recommendations and endorsements of services assist in building brand awareness and are effective in demonstrating and reinforcing to others your stature and expertise in a given area. These recognitions are particularly important for people who are just getting to know who you are and the areas in which you are a leader. Recommendations are also a good way to get feedback on your personal marketing efforts. If you receive a number of endorsements recognizing your expertise in a specialized area, then it is clear that those who are connected with you know what you do and what you do well. If you are getting endorsements for services you do not provide, then you have to review how you are marketing and communicating with contacts. If this is out of sync you need to work on how you are perceived in your market.
This article was provided by Bill Corbett, President of Corbett Public Relations based on Long Island in New York. Mr. Corbett is a respected leader in public relations, media relations, personal branding and social media. Over the past two decades Mr. Corbett has assisted thousands of clients to secure media coverage, build brands, attract attention and grow. For more information visit www.corbettpr.com or contact him at [email protected] Twitter @wjcorbett