What It Is… and Profiles

Time for round two. 

Currently right now I have 56 invitations outstanding.  As of last Thursday I had 60 connections which is now up to 83, and have thus added 64 new connections in the last couple of weeks.  Much of this was accomplished by reviewing my contacts from the various North Fulton chamber events.  My goal is to have 100 by February 1st.
 
I currently have 5,500 people who are connected to people I am connected to (friends of friends). 
 
What is LinkedIn?
It is nothing more than a tool.  How you use it will determine if it has any relevance.  Sort of like your car.  You can own it, sit in it, whatever.  But unless you start it, put it in drive, press the gas and steer, it’s nothing more than a huge paperweight.  

LinkedIn =’s

  1. It is a tool that can expand your network.
    I use it now to add another level of connection to people I meet at the chamber or while prospecting.  Over a given year I will probably meet close to 500 new people.  It’s hard to remember a lot of details with this many people, but if they are part of my LinkedIn network, I now have a resource to refresh my memory about what they do.
  2. Its a tool to access information and find resources that I can tap into to help client’s, prospects, or friends.
    I’ve found that as I come across people that need a resource, I first look at who is in my network to determine if there is someone who can help them.  Previously I would have looked at the names in my Card Scan database to try and see who I knew, or tried to think of someone I met through the chamber.  With LinkedIn I can find the person and, if they have filled out a detailed profile, see if they might be able to help.
     
    I can go to my connections and filter the results.  For example if someone needs help from a CPA in Atlanta, I can filter my contacts to show only Atlanta connections in the accounting industry.  In my case this brings up three people who I can then review there information to see if their background is a good fit for the person needing help.

It’s also good to understand what it ISN’T

  1. It’s not a social network
  2. It’s not a contact manager
  3. It’s not a replacement for face to face networking

Your Profile
As I have looked at over 500 profiles of connections, I have noticed that there is a wide range as far as the completeness of profiles.  Your profile is one the most important parts of your LinkedIn account.
 
There are two reasons your profile should be complete and accurate:

  1. To increase your chance of being found; and
  2. To appropriately communicate information about yourself.

This is the first step in creating your brand.  You should put as much time into your profile as you would a resume.  I recently received a referral based on my LinkedIn profile.  If I had not taken the time to detail out my experience and background I would probably have missed out on the referral. 

It’s important top list out the schools you attended, clubs you are or have been a part of, companies you have worked at etc.  If any of these have a full name and an abbreviated names be sure to list it both ways.  Also make sure to complete the interests section, as you never know how someone might connect to you.
 
The summary section is a great place to put something similar to your elevator speech.  Get creative but remember this should be done in a business perspective.
 
It’s amazing the number of profiles I viewed that contained barely any information.  If you are a private person and do not want anyone to know any details about you, then LinkedIn is probably not going to be a productive tool for you. 
 
Another benefit of Linked in is that search engines such as Google index the site and you could be found by someone doing a Google search.  For example someone searching on “employee benefits” could pull up a link to my profile.
 
You also have the opportunity to configure your Public Profile.  Your Public profile is what folks who aren’t signed in to LinkedIn will see.  I personally have set it so that anyone not on LinkedIn can still view as much information as possible.
 
Mistake #2 (#1 was last week)
Don’t forget to spell check your profile.  I had a friend tell me that he had gone to my profile, noticed a mis-spelled word, and then put my whole profile into Word.  He found probably 15 words mis-spelled. (I have a new keyboard at my office, that is different from the one at home, and for some reason I seem to have more mis-spellings at work.  I spell check all of my emails but failed to do so with my online profile.)
 
Tip #2:
After adding or updating your profile, copy the information into Word and run the spell check function. 
 
Enhancing Your Profile
There are several things you can do, other than providing complete information, that will help your profile:

  1. Write Recommendations:  Don’t write one just to do so, but look within your connections and reward someone who you have been impressed by for work done, insight or input received, advice or guidance, whatever.  Just don’t do it to “just to do it”.  False recommendations are transparent and add no value.  An added value to you for writing the recommendation is that you will get a link back to your profile on the profile page of the person you recommended.
  2. Ask or Answer a Question in LinkedIn Answers: Another way to get a link to your profile in another section of LinkedIn.  Plus it’s an opportunity to share your knowledge.  I answered a question for someone in Michigan that will never result in business.  But I was able to help this person and someone with insurance questions in Georgia may see my answer and decide to contact me. 

So to summarize the above information

  1. Complete your profile with as much detail as possible
  2. Spell check it
  3. Make valid recommendations
  4. Ask and answer questions in the LinkedIn Answers section
  5. Configure your Public settings 

1st Project–How I am initially looking to use LinkedIn
My ideal client is a business that has between 10 to 200 employees.  I have started going through the list of people my connections have listed as connections (if a connection is a competitor I am not looking at their contacts).  Many people when listing their current employer have also listed the size of their employer.  So I am simply clicking on each connection and looking at the size of the company. 

Any business with 10 to 200 employees is being added to a prospecting list.  I’ve gone through my current connections (about 6 hours worth of time) and identified close to 80 prospects that fit my criteria.  As I add connections I will continue to update my list.
 
Collecting the names is a chore and just the first step.  I still need to determine the best way to get introduced.  And since most of the identified prospects are not the final person I need to be speaking with at their company, how do I make that jump. 
 
So in this process there are multiple people:
A (myself)
B (my direct connection)
C (my connections, connection)
D (the person I eventually want to meet, talk to, etc.)
**This is based on 2nd degree connections.  I am not looking at 3rd degree connections yet.  

I (A) ask B to connect me to C  Then ask C to connect me to D.
 
The most important piece in this process is making sure that at each connection point I explain what it is that I do, what I am trying to accomplish, and why there is a benefit for D and me (A) to meet, talk, etc.
 
That’s it for now.  In the next post I hope to talk about the account settings, connecting to others and update where I am in my project mentioned above.  

If you have any comments or suggestions, register and post so that everyone can benefit from your input. 

 Sean
(404) 418-8753
sean@acuitybenefits.biz

LinkedIn profile:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/seannelson
Employee Benefits:   www.acuitybenefits.biz
Individual Health Insurance:  www.AtlantaHealthLife.com
How to Protect Yourself:   www.ProtectionComesFirst.com

Is LinkedIn Relevant?

Each year things slow down in December so I try to learn something new.  This year I decided to try and figure out whether or not “LinkedIn” was really relevant to my business.  The number one question concerning LinkedIn is “Ok I have an account, so now what do I do next”?  As I try to answer this question myself I will share what I learn.
 
I signed up for my account sometime in the past year and slowly built contacts up until November.  In November I had a person invite me to connect and gave me a referral based on the information I included in my profile.  This referral led to several other referrals and suddenly my interest was peaked. 

At the time I had about 19 contacts.  I decided the only way to see if there was any merit to the idea was to become proactive in connecting with other user and see where it led.  As of today I have added about 40 contacts (people I actually know) over the past month (up to 60) and have 65 invitations pending.  I should have around 100 connections by February.
 
To build my network I did three things:

  1. I searched on companies I had worked at and Schools I attended to find people I knew in the past
  2. I looked through my Card Scan contact list of people I have met through the GNFCC
  3. I searched for people I have met while doing business, including current clients

MISTAKE # 1:  Sending out invitations using the canned text “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Linked has some great tools to help you add contacts.  You can search your outlook contacts, people you have sent emails to from yahoo or gmail, and it will identify who has a LinkedIn account.  This identified about 80 people I could connect to.   In my haste I took the easy way out and hit the “Add to my network button” and “Send”. 
 
What I did not realize is that if only 5 of the initial 80 invites for some reason don’t recognize me and click the “I don’t know Sean Nelson” response my account will be suspended for in essence spamming invitations.  So far so good, but personalizing the messages would probably decrease the likelihood of having my account suspended.
 
TIP 1:  Personalize all invitations.  I am currently in the process of sending personal emails to each person I invited to correct my mis-step.
 
The question I hope to answer is:

  1. How can I use LinkedIn to build a credible network?
  2. Meet people I might not meet through the chamber
  3. Network into some potential prospecting opportunities.
  • Credible Network:  One person I know is using LinkedIn as a way to manager her referral network.  When a client has a need she searches her LinkedIn connections and extended connections to find a resource.  If they are not yet a direct connection she introduces herself and invites the person to connect.
     
    One way I envision using it is to keep a connection to people I have met for One on Ones.  Through the chamber you usually have two potential meeting set up with other attendees.  In the past I have met with someone, only to have nothing else ever materialize.  With LinkedIn I can add them to my connections and we now have a continued connection.  Also that person can see who I am connected to and pro-actively ask me for an introduction.  I can do the same. 
     
    With a networking format such as BNI I have to wait until a fellow member recognizes someone that would be good for me to meet.  LinkedIn changes it to more of a “Referral on Demand” situation.  If someone requests an introduction I can still choose whether or not to introduce them.  I might decide that I need to know more about the person requesting the introduction, calling for an additional one-on-one.
  • Meet New People:  Most of my networking revolves around the GNFCC.  It’s a great way to meet people face to face.  But, it is a somewhat closed environment, being you have to be a member to attend events on a continuing basis.  There are many people that could be a great connection who choose to not join a chamber.  With LinkedIn I can search based on different criteria to identify people that I would want to connect to.  This helps expand my network.
     
    I can also look through the connection of people I am currently connected to identify others who would be beneficial to meet.  If they are on LinkedIn then they are likely to have an interest in connecting with others such as myself.
  • Network for Opportunities:  Prospecting can be expensive or time consuming.  To send out 1,000 postcards will cost around $600, and with a likely response less than 2%, you are paying at least $30 per response.  If you are cold calling plan on spending up to 2 hours to get a appointment set.
     
    With LinkedIn I hope to be able to identify companies that I would like to meet with and then look for connections to someone that works at the company.  My opportunity for success is increased ten fold if I can secure a personal introduction.  The cost and time required is negligible.

Moving Forward

  • I plan on talking to people in my network who have more than 60 connections to see how they are using LinkedIn. 
  • I have bought a book that details LinkedIn and potential ways to use LinkedIn (I will not be posting direct information from this book, but rather will use it to generate thoughts and activities which I will discuss–this book is available at www.imonlinkedinnowwhat.com for $11.95), and by reading various blogs about LinkedIn
  • http://blog.linkedin.com/, http://www.linkedintelligence.com/ and any other information I can find).
  • I plan on helping people I am connected to find more connections
  • Encourage those who do not have an account to sign up and connect
  • To update this blog as I work through answering the “Now What” question. 

*Helping others build their network indirectly builds my network.

My profile can be viewed by Clicking Here or by copying the following link into your url address bar:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/seannelson
 
If you have a LinkedIn account take a look at my connection to see who you know or who you might like me to introduce you to.  The magic number, per LinkedIn to have a productive network, is 60 connections.  It may seem like a lot but once you start thinking about who you know, you should be able to reach that number fairly quick.
 
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, why not sign up.  It’s free, and while you may not see the purpose today, tomorrow may provide a new perspective.
 
Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.  If you have figured out LinkedIn let me know, it will save me some time and trouble.

Stats:

  • There are 290 people in Atlanta who have joined LinkedIn in the last 3 months who are connected directly to people I am connected to
  • There are over 4,800 people who are on LinkedIn who are connected directly to people I am connected to
  • There are over 53,000 LinkedIn users in Atlanta
  • There are over 580,000 people that I could reach through introductions (this is people 2 or 3 degrees away from me)

Next Post
I’ll probably cover what Linked is and is not, some of the benefits, why your profile is important and updated user experience.
 
Warm Regards,
 
Sean
(404) 418-8753
sean@acuitybenefits.biz

LinkedIn profile:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/seannelson
Employee Benefits:   www.acuitybenefits.biz
Individual Health Insurance:  www.AtlantaHealthLife.com
How to Protect Yourself:   www.ProtectionComesFirst.com

And Away We Go…

This blog started as an email to people I am connected to on LinkedIn detailing my experience in trying to determine whether or not LinkedIn can be relevant to my business.  The first couple of posts were originally sent out by email.  The problem with this is that it limits the opportunity for the people that received my email to contribute directly.

I decided to move this to a blog to enable communication among my connections and to allow anyone to add their experience and knowledge.  Also I plan to invite some connections who have used LinkedIn more often and more efficiently than I have so far.

What to do next?

  1. Read and read often
  2. Share your knowledge
  3. Share your experiences and thoughts
  4. Ask questions
  5. Identify potential connections
  6. Connect

Hopefully you will find this forum informative and helpful to your networking.

 Warm Regards,

 Sean
(404) 418-8753
sean@acuitybenefits.biz

LinkedIn profile:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/seannelson
Employee Benefits:   www.acuitybenefits.biz
Individual Health Insurance:  www.AtlantaHealthLife.com
How to Protect Yourself:   www.ProtectionComesFirst.com