LinkedIn has become one of the most widely used social media and networking sites for professionals, and while it is not as formal as corporate communication, there are some lessons to learn in using LinkedIn as a networking tool.
How to use LinkedIn successfully in networking:
LinkedIn is a powerful connector (as long as you’re using it correctly)
Professionals are incredibly responsive on LinkedIn and if you approach it correctly, you will be able to build your network effectively. With all the handy features (such as filtering by location, industry, current company and more) you can curate the group of people you want to access and connect to easily. It’s like your dream team of networking partners all gathered at one event, but they are there all the time. The key here is getting this group to interact with you.
It’s all about the approach
As with most networking attempts, the approach can be the deciding factor in the exchange. On LinkedIn you need to interact as if you were on social media, but in a professional setting. You’re your connection messages short, clear and to the point while inviting your potential connection to start a dialogue. Make it personal by mentioning connections you may have in common or commenting on the person’s achievements, research or interests.
Don’t leave it up to automated messages
LinkedIn doesn’t play well with automated messages, and using automated messaging extensions may get your profile banned because using “bots or other automated methods” to “send or redirect messages” is against LinkedIn’s Dos and Don’ts.
Branding is still important
First impressions count, even in the world of online networking. You need to carefully curate your brand image on LinkedIn just as you would on social media and in face-to-face interactions. Create your profile content with intention, check for errors and keep the visuals professional and relevant. If you don’t have professional headshots, you can still get a clear, professional looking photograph with a little bit of research and a smartphone camera. Put in the effort with your profile to make it an extension of your brand.
Commit to the long-term process
Although you might see an upswing in the initial stage of your networking and leads generation campaign on LinkedIn, the significant results will only come after around 2-3 months of consistent work. In this time you may need to evolve and refine your approach based on what you can see is working and what is not. Keep doing research and trying out different strategies until you find what works for you.
Get ready to close the deal
Whether you are using LinkedIn to network in your individual capacity or using it as a tool to generate leads for your business you need to be ready to close the deal with potential connections. This can mean being ready and willing to take the conversation further into a sales process or going for an interview (if you’ve reached out because of a job opening). Don’t waste your connection’s time by dragging your feet in the process when closing time is at hand.
Contact WSI OMS for more information on how to use LinkedIn in your networking and marketing campaigns.