Your company might use LinkedIn, but do you really maximize the potential of this powerful social network? Most companies and individuals underestimate LinkedIn and do not invest fully in what it can do for their business. This topic is one I love to train and speak on with organizations because it can have such a big impact. I will touch on some of my favorite ways to use LinkedIn to achieve the ultimate goal of building stronger, lasting professional relationships.
Developing Connections on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the best place to develop professional connections that can truly lead to new business. When I ask businesses what social platforms are the best fit for their organization, LinkedIn is at the top of the list more than 90% of the time. The problem is never convincing companies they should be on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the ultimate social platform for developing your professional networks. It is a great platform to share content but most people do not understand how to find the big wins because LinkedIn is different by design from Facebook and Twitter, and it is good that it is different. Let’s dig in.
Three Ways To Find People On LinkedIn
It can be so frustrating to leave a networking meeting and not have an email address for some of the people you just met. It could be a new sales prospect, a potential investor in your company, or a someone that has ideas to take your business to the next level. The good news is that nowadays, everything is searchable and finding that person on LinkedIn is very easy.
There are a few ways you can find people through LinkedIn:
- The first way is searching their name directly through LinkedIn in the search tab. Odds are there will be several results and you may have to comb through the results to find the right person. Hopefully they have a photo uploaded to their profile to make identifying them a little easier. Once you found them you can try and connect with them by sending them an invitation to connect. If you are a 2nd-degreeconnection you can send the invitation but you have to know how you are going to connect with them. Are they a colleague, former classmate, have you done work for them, or are you friends? If you have to use the “other” category to send the invitation then there is no way around it; you will need their email address.
- Another way to track them down is to do a Google search and enter as much information as you possibly know about them. An example would be “Paul Smith Louisville LinkedIn Acme Anvils.” More than likely Google will serve up a LinkedIn profile for the person you are looking for if that person is in fact on LinkedIn. The higher results should have the most accurate information based on what you searched.
- Another way to find people might be to go to their company page on LinkedIn. If you cannot find the company page using the LinkedIn search function you can try going to the company website and looking for a LinkedIn icon and clicking to the company page that way. Once you get to the company page it should give you a list of people who work for that organization. If you find any 2nd-degreeconnections you could consider connecting with those individuals to start developing some connections with that company.
The Next Best Thing To Email
As you build your network on LinkedIn it will become much easier over time because every time you are able to add connections you are becoming 2nd-degree connections with all of their connections. Let’s say you do not have an email address for a contact you wish to communicate with. LinkedIn has their own internal messaging system called InMail that acts like email and allows you to send individual messages to your contacts. I usually use this as an opportunity to share my email address and other contact information with them and ask for their contact information also. Not everyone uses their InMail frequently, and just because someone is on LinkedIn does not mean they check it regularly or even respond to the notifications they receive through email. Keep this in mind when you are using LinkedIn to build new relationships. Sometimes I receive a reply from someone I sent an InMail to several months prior. A common response is, “Sorry I am just now seeing this. I don’t use LinkedIn very often but here is a better way to contact me.” If I had to guess, this is the case half the time, which tells me about 50% of the people I do message are checking LinkedIn often enough to receive my messages in a timely fashion.
I mentioned that LinkedIn is not built like other social platforms. It is not the place for the same type of content as Facebook or Twitter, so no family photos, pics from your vacation or silly memes. It is a place for professional content or inspirational content centered on what you do. Since LinkedIn is so focused on a professional environment it is a great opportunity for companies and individuals to share about accomplishments or educational content and expertise in their fields. You can certainly overdo it but from my experience, most businesses do not share enough about what they do or how they do it to alienate anyone following their company. What does happen is it helps brand businesses that do share relevant, professional content as an authority in their space. A bi-product of sharing content on LinkedIn is you will be seen as someone who knows what they are talking about and you will become trusted by your community as a go-to resource for information about your industry.
Staying Up On Current Events
Another great feature about LinkedIn is the ability to stay informed on what is happening with people in your network. It could be benchmarks for them personally or for their business, but keeping your finger on the pulse of your network helps you start new conversations with them and who knows where that may lead. Under the “My Network” tab is “Connections.” If you click on connections it will bring up a list of your connections and some of them who are having birthdays, a work anniversary, or possibly have a new employer. All of these cues give you a great opportunity to strike up a new conversation that might result in a new opportunity for your company.
The old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” has merit. LinkedIn can help you build a network of new relationships, and by virtue of this technology, there are unlimited possibilities to grow your networks substantially. Bigger isn’t always better so build your networks strategically so you can build good relationships. If you would like training on using LinkedIn for your organization reach out to me at email@example.com.