All of this happened because of LinkedIn. It is easy to fritter away hour after hour networking like mad with very little to show for it. But if you try to make connections instead of contacts, and relationships instead of sales, then it all comes together a lot easier.
1. Be authentic and sincere.
- Don't invite people with the standard LinkedIn one liner unless you know them very well, and they have already agreed to link on the network.
- Its bad manners and takes a heck of a lot for granted!
- Answer sincerely without linking back to your site, products or services. If you are only bombing related areas with uninvited statements about how great your stuff is then people will tend to shy away from you.
- Take your connections seriously. Hide them on LinkedIn, respect their privacy and don't send them emails that are unanticipated, or promotional.
- Post news articles that teach, help people to learn, and provide real and significant value. There is a lot to be said about the benefits of "giving it away" - another post.
- Don't use the one liner, one paragraph stuff on your profile. Fill it out, get a professional shot taken and post that. Make sure it fits with the persona you are, and the persona you want to exude.
- Collect recommendations. Not spam ones, but real ones from people who others would see as a trusted source.
- Only give recommendations to people you know and can truly vouch for. Period!
- Make sure your headline ells the world actually who you are and what you can do. Do not use the Top Linked, or LION tags. I avoid those people like the plague. I have better things to do with my time than to link to people who want me as another notch on their profile.
2. Be consistent
- Comment on questions in your areas, and on discussions in your field. Not everyday, but regularly.
- Networking is marketing. Spend at least 30% of networking time on your LinkedIn network and it's management. (And spend the other 70% on real world networking)
- Join a handful of related groups and regularly post items there from your blog. Be very clear on this... they should not be commercially focussed - ever! Always try to add value, teach and inspire, not get under their radar and spam them. We are all too wise for this these days.
3. Become a center for networkers
- I have two groups for related areas. One is related to my day job and the other is related to my passion. (Consulting) Each of these are open forums for others to network in.
- Set up your groups to take your news feeds. So your posts appear there automatically.
- Also, set the group up to receive other news feeds. Our group (Consulting Pulse) has several feeds including the feed from this site. It also has the feed from Seth Godin's blog, Dan Roams blog, and a news feed from Topix.com. I intend to add more.
- Protect them there. Just as you would hide your connections to stop them getting spammed by people who know you are "connected", you must also protect members of the group from being spammed.
- Get rid of spam posts and ban their authors. Move the jobs to the Jobs tab, participate in teh discussions and send regular announcements.
- Again - make sure the announcements are ntwork oriented - not "buy my stuff" oriented.
The group has 2,500 members and growing very fast. I am dedicated to making it a safe haven for consultants to network and learn, and a place where they can get in touch with a lot of the latest thinking on the field of consulting.
4 Leverage off-network tools
- Collect great recommendations from great people. be harsh. My colleague is a great guy and would be happy to give me a recommendation..But I already have several from colleagues and I can't risk filling it up with people who are not as authoritative as some of my other connections.
- Use them! Put them in quotes, on documents, as part of the dust jacket on reports you print and publish and so on. These recommendations, if collected correctly, are gold. They are referrals from trusted sources and they add a lot to your ability to engender a willingness to trust in your prospects.
- Put your LinkedIn profile link into your email. Always helps.
- Make sure your blog is listed in the LinkedIn profile. (The vanity page)
- Be welcoming. When somebody joins your group send them a personal email. Not a cut and pasted one but a real one. Welcome them, offer them your blog and newsletter as additional resources for them. And just generally be nice. treat them as you would like to be treated. LinkedIn has become too much of a meat market, old values still hold.
5. Use it!
- Connect with people who use the medium. And who are likely to be connected to other people you might share mutual interests with.
- Do people searches for roles, people and companies in your network.
- Send InMails to people asking if you can contact them. Note - not asking for permission to connect with them on the network, but if you can get in contact with them in the physical world.
- Always be humble. The network does help you to get an answer. But you are still sending an email to somebody relatively powerful, and it was unexpected. So be humble, make sure to ask if this is appropriate or not. (You get the picture)
This is all pretty straight forward and common sense stuff I think. I am sure there are others out there who have success stories and other hints and tips that would be worthwhile.
I hope you will post your experiences, success stories and additional tips in teh comments below. Good luck, and I wish you powerful networking!