Love to have a tool to help you drive the measure of effective reach and depth of your personal business network? Interested in how I use Linked-In for that?
Expanding your Network with Linked-In (Audio)
Building and expanding a network is a never ending activity, isn’t it? Do you have a tool or platform that you use as a basis to capture your network connections and drive your activities? I have learned to use Linked-In as a platform tool and as a catalyst to help the expansion of my network as well as to help me manage it. This platform helps to leverage visibility and exposure via your contacts (and theirs) and what they can facilitate for you and what you can do for them. What has your experience been with Linked-In?
It’s Who They Know…
I have found Linked-In to have become the “Facebook of Business”. It has credible critical mass across the globe. It embodies that the world has become a “village“ and that it is no longer: “it’s not what you know, but who you know…” but that this has been appended by “and it’s who they know… that matters”.
Everyone can see what a connection is all about “at a glance”. Set up correctly, it highlights key career achievements and areas of focus. I have found the recommendations very useful for my prospects to be able to read for themselves where and how my work with others could relate to them. Today Linked-In has become a tool of significance in many (if not most) organization’s recruitment activities. In my blog Hitting the ground running I speak of the due diligence necessary on an organization you are considering to pursue and how Linked-In can connect you to past and current people of relevance in that organization to answer the right questions before you make a commitment.
So What Do I Use Linked-In For?
- I keep expanding it to extend my reach. Remember that my network is an extension of my value proposition to my clients and prospects as well as to all my associates.
- Many of you will know that when I publish a blog article every fortnight that I use the “update” function in Linked-In to announce (that is to post) each blog. Every connection that browses through their posts when they have some fee time sees that update. Exposure.
- Linked-In has an app extension that automatically posts each update via Twitter, if you link your Twitter account (provided the update is limited to 140 characters) which exponentially expands your reach. I am amazed how many new Twitter followers I see each week. More exposure.
- I also post things or doings of interest from time to time, but am quite circumspect about that. I question people wasting their and my time announcing that “they have burned their toast”.
- When I recently launched my book: Life Learnings of a Life Coach I announced its launch via Linked-In (and Twitter, of course).
- If I need to find access to the right “gatekeeper” within an organization I prefer to do so via a “warm” introduction rather than using a “cold call”. A search through my Linked-In network will find me anyone I know in that organization who I can then ask to broker such a “warm” introduction for me.
- If anyone asks me the “who do you know that….?” question, guess where I usually find the person that will be most likely to answer or fulfill it? I don’t know how many C-designated and other professional level roles I have personally successfully facilitated candidates into – both for the “buyers” as well as the “sellers”. Remember The Trust Triangle? I don’t get paid for that, however it saves both parties heaps of energy and dollars and I know that “what goes around, comes around”.
- When I co-founded a Consortium of like-minded professionals with some of my personal friends and associates and when I added that to my profile everyone connected with me via Linked-In was able to read about it in the automatically generated updates. I received 2 congratulations within an hour of the update.
- In that Consortium we have committed to Linked-In advertising with an ad with which we will test the exposure that can generate for this new venture.
- I am not suggesting that you would want to be reading Linked-In updates all day the way some people (ab)use Facebook. However I have a Linked-In app on my Smartphone and when I have some “dead time” in a cab or a train or if I’m early for an appointment, I will browse through my linked-In updates to be informed of who is doing / done what, what is happening and what I might want to be aware of, so I can follow up those that matter to me (or refer them to someone I know).
- I also like to have satisfied clients recommend me via Linked-In, which gives prospective clients an additional insight into what others thought of the work we had done together.
So are you starting to see the value a tool such as Linked-In can provide? Where and how can you see the value for you whether you are in a “back office” role or in a “front office” role or whether you are a leader or led or whether you are in your own business?
About 3.5 years ago I had 50 connections in my Linked-In network and set a goal to hit 250, which I reached in about 6 months. Today I have over 1000 connections. And most of these connections are people that I know, have met, or have been connected to through others. However, what matters most is that these give me a reach into almost 11.5 million people all over the world! Please don’t underestimate how much value there is in it for you by having a substantial base of Linked-In connections.
So How Did I Go About Growing That Number Of Connections?
Please just follow these simple steps with discipline:
- Set and diarize an hour of undisturbed Me Time however often you can, preferably 2 to 3 times a week to get some Momentum.
- Systematically trawl through the connections of each of your own Linked-In connections, recognizing people in there that you know but don’t have in your network (yet), and invite them into yours via a personally worded invite. I like to remind them of where we know each other from or when last we caught up.
- When these accept your invite, do the same with their connections – it feeds on itself.
- Also, go through your contacts list and any old names lists or business card holders you have to find and invite those you know, that know you and that you respect, to join your network, also through a personally worded invite. After all your years since school, tertiary and work, you should have heaps (many hundreds) of people you know and vendors and other partners you have worked with. You’ll find them on Linked-In if they are members and can send them an invite to join Linked-In if they aren’t.
- When you have invited someone to connect to your network, Linked-In present you with a list of people who are in the next level of connections of others within your network. I found that very useful to pick up anyone that I may have missed.
- If you don’t know someone you want in your network, find someone already connected to you (and to them) and ask them to broker a “warm” connection for you.
I’ve already spoken about recommendations, which I really find most valuable. I will qualify that though. New users of Linked-In often ask someone for a recommendation if they offer to grant one as well. To me “I’ll do one for you if you do one for me” devalues the quality of any recommendation. I have no problems however writing to or asking a client at the completion of a coaching program if they would consider writing me a recommendation, and am happy and grateful to receive the ones I did.
I’m going to stick my neck out here now. There is a relatively new feature in Linked-In called Endorsements where across a range of specific attributes people can endorse you, upon which all those that have done so are pictorially shown in a thumbnail pic against each attribute (for instance “change management”). Whilst I am always grateful for someone taking the trouble to endorse, I have found overall that people are too “liberal” in doing so, and that the value of these endorsements has suffered somewhat as a consequence, particularly if it is from people that can’t possibly know me that well to endorse a particular skill.
I believe that “less is more” and that this certainly pertains to the value of recommending or endorsing someone.
So What next?
I hope that this article has given you some perspectives on the way I apply linked-In in my business and for my network. Maybe you have gained some new ideas or insights? Maybe you were already aware of all these aspects?
I know there are much more sophisticated Linked-In users leveraging the benefits much more than me but that shouldn’t stop me from sharing how and what I use it for, should it? I hope that this blog helps you improve the value you get from this great tool. And if you were to add your own nuggets under the comments section we can all benefit, OK? Please do.
So what if with the start of a new year (or month) now you were to set a goal to double whatever the number of your Linked-In connections is within the next 3 or 6 months (and then over a set time-frame to double it again)? What if you were to follow the simple process outlined above and, even if you were still sceptical, were then to see what benefits you could leverage for yourself, your associates, your business or your company?
What if you could?