Advertising
Advertising

Making Your LinkedIn Business Network Pay Dividends

Making Your LinkedIn Business Network Pay Dividends
LinkedIn Logo

    Haven’t made a dime on LinkedIn? A lot of people on LinkedIn haven’t made a dime from it. Chances are you haven’t made anyone else money either. In expanding your network, the main point is to help you phone or meet someone who may be able to help you in whatever it is you are trying to do. The flip side is you need to help others meet their needs too. Until you think of helping others get what they want, you won’t likely get what you want.

    LinkedIn is just a tool, albeit a powerful one if you have a use for it and know how to make it work. If you are good at what you do, it amplifies it. If you suck, it amplifies that too. We’ll assume the former and give some pointers on how you can make it work more effectively for you. If you find yourself wondering how to better use, derive benefit or get value from this tool, the following suggestions might prove useful. Don’t forget the basic rule of being of service to others.

    Online is online. Compared to meeting someone in the real world, it is much easier to connect with someone online. The flip side is that it is much harder to develop a relationship. Always keep this in mind and prepare to put in a solid effort to turn what looks like a good connection into a relationship.

    The key is to then connect on the phone and in person if possible. One strategy is to email new contacts or call active LinkedIn members if you are in town for a conference or meeting.

    Advertising

    But remember that sending an email is not going to be enough to get you business.

    Focus is key. There are hundreds of online networking sites and tools so you should focus on one and put in a solid effort to make it work.

    If you choose LinkedIn as the one, then develop a strategy around it. This does not mean that you should not use other online networking sites. If LinkedIn is your main one, as part of your strategy, you should have all your other profiles point to LinkedIn. Go to Web2List for a list of networking sites in case you want to see some others.

    As part of your strategy, have a public profile and include your LinkedIn profile on your signature footer and other communication documents you use (ie. fax, website, blog).

    Advertising

    Focus on actively connecting with people you want to know through those you know and start building productive relationships.

    Share, share, share. The more information you share on your profile, the more searchable you become in the database and more chances you will be able to make a real connection with someone. There is a weird non-linear effect that kicks in. One you get past a certain threshold by putting enough good searchable content in your profile and get enough active connections going, the search engines start giving you a better ranking. The higher ranking increases interest in you and your traffic goes up so you add more to your profile and there is a snowballing effect that works to your benefit.

    Some specific tips:

    • You should also customize your public profile URL to be your actual name
    • Use LinkedIn’s new Answers feature to help others and gain exposure
    • Include your LinkedIn profile link on your blog, faxes, letterhead, business cards
    • Utilize all the links you are allowed to incorporate on your profile.

    Set a policy and process and get a life! You should establish a policy and think in terms of running processes to achieve whatever goals you have set for yourself while helping others achieve their goals.

    Advertising

    Here are some policy suggestions:

    • Send only customized requests for connections,
    • Forward requests only if they are specific and contact the recipient in advance before forwarding any such requests,
    • Spend no more than 1 hour a day on LinkedIn,
    • Read people’s profiles before contacting them.

    Here is an example of a simple 2 step process based on the policy you have set:
    1. After you meet someone at an event, check your LinkedIn network to see if you know anyone in common or share a common interest,
    2. Send them useful information that is relevant to their business and request a meeting or ask for their permission to connect on LinkedIn.

    Get involved on forums, read books and interview people on how they benefited from LinkedIn. There are advantages to becoming involved with some of the behind the scenes activities. Join the MyLinkedInPowerForum on yahoo and interview people with more than 5 endorsements and 100 contacts. This is a place you should feel free to ask for help.

    Get Endorsements for your profile. You should think of getting at least 10 endorsements on your profile. These third party endorsements will carry weight, especially if the person checking your profile holds the person giving the endorsement in high esteem.

    Advertising

    Create a list of ways you can use LinkedIn to your advantage. Most people focus on selling and miss out on a many great benefits that include:

    • contacting or identifying media,
    • proactively helping others in your network,
    • researching competitors by contacting former employees (by a company search),
    • reconnecting with past colleges,
    • gaining competitive insights into the company by interviewing past and current employees,
    • learning a company’s buying habits and policies by interviewing current or former staff.

    You won’t make money from LinkedIn without being clear on how to use this highly effective networking tool. Turning connections made online into productive relationships is something you need to know how to do effectively and work at. LinkedIn provides a great shortcut to make initial connections with people who can help you, but you need to do extra work to make the connection something more than an email exchange. And don’t forget that givers gain.

    Tatsuya Nakagawa is president and CEO of Atomica Creative Group Ltd., a strategic product marketing company based in Vancouver Canada. He is a big fan of LinkedIn, yet uses it no more than an hour a day. He has thousands of connections, plenty of endorsements, maintains his profile diligently and gets great mileage. Peter Paul Roosen has an engineering background and founded numerous companies including firms involved in locomotive and plastics manufacturing, computer software and marketing. He is another kind of LinkedIn user, more of a leech. He uses it occasionally, hasn’t filled in his profile after two years on it, prefers to approach rather than be approached and believes he is not alone in this.

    More by this author

    20 Things People Regret the Most Before They Die Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science Quit Your Job If You Don’t Like It, No Matter What What Highly Successful People Do Every Day To Perform At Their Best How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    Trending in Featured

    1 How To Start a Conversation with Anyone 2 Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context 3 How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day 4 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life 5 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

    How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

    The hardest part of socializing, for many people, is how to start a conversation. However, it is a big mistake to go about life not making the first move and waiting for someone else to do it [in conversation or anything].

    This isn’t to say you must always be the first in everything or initiate a conversation with everyone you see. What should be said, though, is once you get good at starting conversations, a lot of other things will progress in the way you want; such as networking and your love life.

    Benefits of Initiating a Conversation

    First thing is you should acknowledge why it is a good thing to be able to initiate conversations with strangers or people who you don’t know well:

    • You’re not a loner with nothing to do.
    • You look more approachable if you are comfortable approaching others.
    • Meeting new people means developing a network of friends or peers which leads to more knowledge and experiences.

    You can only learn so much alone, and I’m sure you’re aware of the benefits of learning from others. Being able to distinguish the ‘good from bad’ amongst a group of people will help in building a suitable network, or making a fun night.

    All people are good in their own way. Being able to have a good time with anybody is a worthy trait and something to discuss another time. However, if you have a specific purpose while in social situations, you may want to stick with people who are suitable.

    This means distinguishing between people who might suit you and your ‘purpose’ from those who probably won’t. This can require some people-judging, which I am generally very opposed to. However, this does make approaching people all the more easier.

    It helps to motivate the conversation if you really want to know this person. Also, you’ll find your circle of friends and peers grows to something you really like and enjoy.

    Advertising

    The Rules

    I don’t have many rules in this life, for conversation or anything; but when it comes to approaching strangers, there are a few I’d like used.

    1. Be polite. Within context, don’t be a creepy, arrogant loudmouth or anything. Acknowledge that you are in the company of strangers and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. First impressions mean something.
    2. Keep it light. Don’t launch into a heartfelt rant or a story of tragedy. We’re out to have fun.
    3. Don’t be a prude. This just means relax. This isn’t a science and conversation isn’t a fine art. Talk to people like you’re already friends.
    4. Be honest. Be yourself. People can tell.

    Who To Talk To?

    I’m of the ilk that likes to talk to everyone and anyone. Everyone has a story and good personalities. Some are harder to get to than others, but if you’re on a people-finding excursion, like I usually am, then everyone is pretty much fair game.

    That said, if you’re out at a function and you want to build a network of people in your niche, you will want to distinguish those people from the others. Find the ‘leaders’ in a group of people or ask around for what you’re looking for.

    In a more general environment, like at a bar, you will want to do the same sort of thing. Acknowledge what you actually want and try to distinguish suitable people. Once you find someone, or a group of people, that you want to meet and talk to, hop to it.

    Think of a few things you might have in common. What did you notice about their dress sense?

    Building Confidence

    The most important part of initiating conversation is, arguably, having confidence. It should be obvious that without any amount of self-esteem you will struggle. Having confidence in yourself and who you are makes this job very easy.

    If you find yourself doubting your worth, or how interesting you are, make a few mental notes of why you are interesting and worth talking to. There is no question you are. You just have to realize that.

    Advertising

    What do I do? What is interesting about it? What are my strong points and what are my weak ones? Confident people succeed because they play on their strengths.

    Across the Room Rapport

    This is rapport building without talking. It’s as simple as reciprocated eye contact and smiles etc. Acknowledging someone else’s presence before approaching them goes a long way to making introductions easier. You are instantly no longer just a random person.

    In my other article How Not To Suck At Socializing, there are things you can do to make yourself appear approachable. This doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to flock to you. You’ll still probably need to initiate conversations.

    People notice other people who are having a blast. If you’re that person, someone will acknowledge it and will make the ‘across the room rapport’ building a breeze. If you’re that person that is getting along great with their present company, others will want to talk to you. This will make your approach more comfortable for both parties.

    The Approach

    When it comes to being social, the less analytical and formulaic you are the better. Try not to map out your every move and plan too much. Although we are talking about how to initiate conversation, these are really only tips. When it comes to the approach, though, there are some things you should keep in mind.

    Different situations call for different approaches. Formal situations call for something more formal and relaxed ones should be relaxed.

    At a work function, for instance, be a little formal and introduce yourself. People will want to know who you are and what you do right away. This isn’t to say you should only talk about work, but an introduction and handshake is appropriate.

    Advertising

    If you’re at a bar, then things are very different and you should be much more open to unstructured introductions. Personally, I don’t like the idea of walking directly to someone to talk to them. It’s too direct. I like the sense of randomness that comes with meeting new people.

    However, if there is rapport already established, go for it. If not, take a wander, buy a drink and be aware of where people are. If there is someone you would like to talk to, make yourself available and not sit all night etc.

    When someone is alone and looks bored, do them a favor and approach them. No matter how bad the conversation might get, they should at least appreciate the company and friendliness.

    Briefly, Approaching Groups

    When integrating with an established group conversation, there is really one thing to know. That is to establish the ‘leader’ and introduce yourself to them. I mentioned that before, but here is how and why.

    The why is the leader of a group conversation is probably the more social and outgoing. They will more readily accept your introduction and then introduce you to the rest of the group. This hierarchy in a group conversation is much more prevalent in formal situations where one person is leading the conversation.

    A group of friends out for the night is much more difficult to crack. This may even be another topic for discussion, but one thing I know that works is initiating conversation with a ‘stray’. It sounds predatorial, but it works.

    More often than not, this occurs without intention. But if you do really want to get into a group of friends, your best bet is approaching one of them while they are away from the group and being invited into the group.

    Advertising

    It is possible, like everything, to approach a group outright and join them. However, this is almost an art and requires another specific post.

    Topics Of Conversation

    Other than confidence, the next thing people who have trouble initiating conversations lack is conversation! So here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:

    • Small talk sucks. It’s boring and a lot of people already begin to zone out when questions like, “What do you do?” or “What’s with this weather?” come up. Just skip it.
    • Everything is fair game. If you are in the company of someone and a thought strikes you, share it. “This drink is garbage! What are you drinking?” “Where did you get that outfit?”
    • Opinions matter. This is any easy way to hit the ground running in conversation. Everyone has one, and when you share yours, another will reveal itself. The great thing about this line of thought is that you are instantly learning about the other person and what they like, dislike etc.
    • Environment. The place you’re in is full of things to comment on. The DJ, band, fashions; start talking about what you see.
    • Current events. Unless it’s something accessible or light-hearted, forget it. Don’t launch into your opinion on the war or politics. If your town has recently hosted a festival, ask what they think about it.

    Exiting Conversation

    Although I’d like to write a full post on exiting strategies for conversations you don’t want to be in, here are some tips:

    • The first thing is don’t stay in a conversation you’re not interested in. It’ll show and will be no fun for anyone.
    • Be polite and excuse yourself. You’re probably out with friends, go back to them.  Or buy a drink. Most people will probably want to finish the conversation as much as you.

    Likewise, you could start another conversation.

    If you’d like to learn more tips about starting a conversation, this guide maybe useful for you: How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Read Next