The Four LinkedIn Connection Strategies

LinkedIn is a fairly harmonious place. People tend to act professional and when there are opposing opinions they typically become a case where people “agree to disagree”. Things change though when you began discussing LIONS. Suddenly the conversation isn’t so rosy.

LION’s, for those who don’t know are open networkers. They connect to just about anyone. They see opportunity increasing as the number of connections increases. Those who disagree see LIONS as simply driving their ego’s by counting the connections, as if the purpose of LinkedIn is to proudly claim to have 1,000’s of connections.

For the record I don’t consider myself a LION, yet I’m an open networker. When writing my first LinkedIn book I identified three LinkedIn connection strategies. This year I added a fourth to define how I now connect.

How you choose to connect will impact how you use LinkedIn and in the end your chances of finding success.

Before we look at the four connection strategies I want to make one point. How you choose to connect on LinkedIn should be of no concern to anyone else. It’s your network and your strategy. As long as it works for you thats all that matters.

The Four LinkedIn Connection Strategies: Continue reading The Four LinkedIn Connection Strategies

The 3 Basic Keys to LinkedIn

It’s been a fun two weeks but not necessarily a productive period in terms of the blog.  Two weeks ago I started moving the blog from the Linked Intuition site to the Social Media Sonar site.  Instead of writing new posts I was finding all of the little things that needed to be updated or corrected.  I think all is in place to kick off the new blog and move forward.

This week I’m preparing to speak at Norvax University in Orlando which is an educational road show event hosted by Norvax for health insurance agents.  There will be 300 brokers from 22 states so it’s a great opportunity to gain some personal and blog exposure.

In preparing for the show I’ve been writing my presentations and creating some new LinkedIn guides.  From this writing developed the 3 Basic Keys to Getting Started on LinkedIn.

1.  Optimize Your Profile

2.  Build Your Network

3.  Leverage LinkedIn

Optimize Your Profile
Optimizing your profile is the same as dressing appropriately for an event.  You want to dress to impress.  When you meet someone (someone looks at your profile) you want them to walk away with a positive impression.

It’s not only how you look though, it’s also what you say while engaged in the conversation.  In your profile that starts with your photo and your descriptive title.  If you don’t have a professional profile photo get one.  A professional photo is one that supports your brand.

Your Title description is an area that most people can improve upon.  I think you’re better of using the space to say something about how you can help someone.  In other words use a Tag line instead of a title.  A tag line says what you can do to help people; a title says what you are and is inward focused.  Compare a title verses a tagline for my insurance business.  Which ia better –  Title:  “Insurance Broker“; or Tag Line:  “Helping individuals and businesses in Atlanta save up to 60% on their health insurance“.

Another important area is your summary.  You can post a resume style summary that talks about you or you can get creative and talk about who you are, how you help people, and how they can help you.

A great way to start your summary is by using your elevator speech that includes key elements.  When I was focused primarily on my health insurance businesses my summary started with:

“Hi, my name is Sean Nelson and for the last eight years (how long) I have helped thousands (how many) of self employed individuals and small businesses (who) in Atlanta (where) save up to 60% (what) on their health insurance and employee benefits.”

Some other keys are to provide enough detailed information, sprinkle keywords through out your profile, and add applications.

Build Your Network
A great profile with 10 connections isn’t really that productive.  While some people will find you, you also want to be growing your Direct Network.  I used to think that if you had 250 connections that was enough.  Now I think you need to have at least 500 relevant connections.

Relevant means they have the potential to lead to business.  You won’t always know whether a connection will lead to business but some are more relevant than others.  A connection in the United Kingdom may know someone in Atlanta who needs help with insurance, but a self employed person in Atlanta is a more relevant connection to me.

The more people you are connected to the more opportunity you will likely find.  Some people will disagree but my experience has been that as I have grown my network I’ve found more success.

A great tool to use is the Import Contacts tool that allows you to add people you’ve communicated with via email in your webmail accounts or the people in your address book, such as Outlook.  When you import or add the contacts LinkedIn lets you know which ones already have a LinkedIn account.  You can then review your Imported Contacts to see who you would like to connect to.

The offline events you attend are also great sources of finding connections.  When I first started on LinkedIn the majority of connections I made were with people that attended the same events as me.  Even if I did not meet a person I sent them a connection invitation.  I assumed that since everyone is there to network, connecting would be just an extension of the offline networking.

Not everyone accepts the invitation but the majority do.  This allows me to grow my local network which is highly relevant.  The connections also provide a great ice breaker at the next event we both attended.

Leverage LinkedIn
You’ve got a great profile and you have a large network, what do you do with it?  You have to leverage the tools that LinkedIn provides.  You have to find ways to communicate your message to your network and generate profile visits.

Profile visits mean someone is interested in something about you.  This is a great opportunity to communicate your message whether it’s through your summary, applications on your profile, or a piece of information that you present.

One of the benefits of participating on LinkedIn is that every time you take an action your network is notified on their home page.  Add a connections and your network is notified.  Provide a recommendation, answer a question, or join a group and the activity is displayed on your Direct Connections home pages.  Over time this continuous activity resonates.

Another great way to communicate with your network is through the use of the Status function.  I use it to tell my net work about success stories…”Sean just helped a client optimize their LinkedIn profile”.  Or for my insurance business “Sean just saved a client $215 on their health insurance”.

Even if your activity doesn’t generate a profile visit it can still communicate a message.  In the “optimize your profile section” I talked about using a tag line instead of a title.  When you answer a question, post a news article, or provide a recommendation a mini profile is shown.  This includes your name, your photo, and your title/tag line.  Even if you don’t visit my profile you’ll see the message I want to convey:  “Sean Nelson:  Saving folks in Atlanta up to 60% on their health insurance”.

I estimate that this tag line seen over and over due to continuous activity has been a significant part of the success I’ve had in getting prospects to call me.

Wrap Up
There are so many other things that are important and can contribute to your success, but these three are a great place to start.  You can find many of these other ideas in other posts on this blog.  Or you can check out my two current books the “LinkedIn MBA” and “LinkedIn Marketing Secret Formula”.  The first is a great “How to” resource.  The second is the first book that lays out a strategic approach to using LinkedIn.  Both can help you shorten the learning curve.

What are some key parts of LinkedIn that you think are important?

The 4 Pillars of Monetizing LinkedIn

One of the interesting things about my time on LinkedIn has been how my thoughts and strategies have changed over time.  Its no different from life in that as you learn more you think of new ways to do things.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked “is that it?”, only to discover that there’s more to do.

Sometimes it has been that I came up with a new angle and sometimes its been because LinkedIn made some upgrades.  Either way the only way to get more out of LinkedIn is to learn more, participate more, and to constantly rethink how to use it.  The minute you stop learning you define the limits of what LinkedIn will provide…a sure fire way to ensure that you get less out of it than is intended.

Over the last year I’ve poked and prodded LinkedIn seeking to find some universal truths that would guide me in how I used LinkedIn.  As I learn more there will be others, but for now here are the four things I know in regards to monetizing my time and effort on LinkedIn.

1.  The Right Perspective = The Right Activities

I have to have a strategy.  I have to have goals.  These two form my perspective about what I expect to get out of LinkedIn.  Knowing this allows me to determine the actions I need to take.  At some point I know I need to measure my results but that will come in time.  For now I’m simply tracking what’s happening so that I can create a benchmark.

I also have to own why I am on LinkedIn by stating it clearly.  It doesn’t get any simpler than “I’m on LinkedIn to make money”.  Connecting, helping others, etc. are all part of the requirement’s to make money.

2.  More Connections = More Opportunity

This one continues to pop up and I’ve heard all of the reasons why you should or should not connect to those you don’t know.  You’ll have to make your own determination but for me I have seen the difference in results having gone from a Hound Dog to a Open Networker (I’m not an official LION so I don’t call myself one).  My offline networking in the Chamber and at events produces results with people I know or have met.  I don’t need LinkedIn for that, I need LinkedIn to expand my “Unexpected Opportunities” from people I have yet to personally meet.  Its done that and more.

3.  Know, Like, & Trust = Success

This one should be in bold letters.  Its that important.  Two out of three doesn’t cut it.  If you want to find success on LinkedIn you need to expand your reach (Know – connecting and groups), you need to provide value to others (Like – Answers, interacting, sharing, etc.), and you need to be found credible (Trust – quality profile, recommendations, sharing information).  Achieving these three components has lead to between 1 and 5 people per week calling me to help them with their health insurance needs…most from people I do not personally know.

4.  More Activity = More Success

The more you participate on LinkedIn the more your name is in front of other members.  Eyeballs lead to traffic which lead to business.  You could simply put your profile up and some people would find you.  But you don’t need some people, you need a lot of people.  It’s a numbers game that takes time and activity to succeed.

Wrap Up

The question of “Why am I on LinkedIn” has led me to question my purpose, my activities, and my results.  The four items listed above are the high level concepts that provide the framework to build on.

The foundation of the four pillars is that More Knowledge = More Creativity.  The more I learn and experiment the more I open my mind to potential.  I read other LinkedIn blogs on a daily basis.  I periodically buy or trade my books for those written by others.  I understand that while I may know a lot it’s worth paying $30 to buy the experience and knowledge of others.  I may only learn one new piece of information but I also open my self up to another’s perspective, which in the end may challenge what I currently think.

Focus on these four (and learning something new each day or week) and your time will be well spent.  What do you think?

*Remember that there are 18 months of posts available at this blog to help you more effectively utilize LinkedIn.  In addition if you are still trying to figure out the ropes the LinkedIn MBA ($4.97) and LinkedIn MBA Workbook ($7.97) are affordable resources.  LinkedIn Marketing Secret Formula is available and a great resource for those looking to take LinkedIn to the next level…going from connecting to collecting.

Retweets, Diggs, etc. are much appreciated.

Warm Regards,

Sean Nelson –  http://twitter.com/SeanENelson