So now that you have all of these new connections, what are you doing with them? How are you driving new business?
Your world has expanded. Five years ago it evolved around the places you networked and the people you interacted with in non-work situations. LinkedIn changed the rules.
LinkedIn wasn’t the first social networking site, but it was the first to expand business connections in a large enough way to be meaningful. I have a Facebook account and it has been great to connect with old friends from college. I have a Plaxo account, and I love that it includes contact details, but not enough people are really using it.
LinkedIn, though most people don’t really understand how to use it beyond connecting, has changed the way business people network. It hasn’t replaced face to face networking and it never will. It’s just enhanced it, in a significant way.
One of the ways you can use LinkedIn is to identify and connect to potential partners and to form alliances.
Old School: Relying on referrals and a conversation over coffee to see if someone would be a good referral partner.
New School: Old School + reviewing their LinkedIn profile, seeing who you are connected to in common, reading their recommendations, seeing what questions they asked and answered, and reading their blogs, documents and information from other LinkedIn applications.
Searching for specific types of people on LinkedIn is easy with the advanced people search. You can also use the Service Providers directory to find the top recommended people in a specific industry. You might find a partner because they provided a great answer to a question. Using the Companies search you might identify several people within a company that would be good to get to know.
If the people in your network are active, maybe you receive a forwarded profile. You could also tap into your network by using the “What are you doing now” Twitteresque feature. What am I doing? Sean is looking to connect to CPA’s that focus on working with Dentists in the Atlanta metro.
LinkedIn is your resource directory. It grows daily with a new account created every second of the day. Your searches are pretty much guaranteed to get better each time you conduct a search.
When I first encountered LinkedIn in 2006, I thought it was a place for folks in the technology world. The second time around in late 2007 I could see the business potential. Maybe the people changed or maybe my eyes were more open the second time. The next step is for people to move from simply participating to actively participating. When a majority do so, it’s going to be incredible.
Don’t wait to jump on the bandwagon. Do a little more today then you did yesterday. A good place to start is by identifying and building relationships that will provide the foundation for future partnerships and alliances.
The Presence tool allows you to put a numeric score to how effective you have been in creating your profile, building connections, giving and receiving recommendations and participating in LinkedIn Answers. It also records your score and returns an average score based on people that have previously rated themselves. Now you can see how effective you have been relative to others.
This was originally designed as a paper based scoring tool to be given out as a bonus to anyone buying the Got LinkedIn book. After some thought, I decided that it would be better suited as an electronic tool that would allow you to compare yourself to the average score generated by other users.
It is said that the average person knows about 250 people. Do you have 250 connections?
I don’t and not everyone I know is on LinkedIn, but I’m preaching to them. Bill King probably knows a lot more than 250 people. Bill’s the kind of guy “you” want to know. He’s got a great sense of humor, always offers spot on advice, and you just enjoy talking to him.
Bill finally drank the Kool-aid and dove into establishing connections on LinkedIn. I may be off by a couple of days but in the last week he’s added 77 connections. I would be willing to bet that he knows each of these connections.
What’s his big secret to ading so many people. He simply took the time to see who he knew and invited them to connect. I would imagine he put a couple of hours into this, but look at the results.
LinkedIn has a great tool that will go through Outlook and see who you have sent an email to that is on LinkedIn. Then you simply send them an invitation.
My recomendation is that you type up a short invitation request that you can personalize for each person with a simple tweak or two. If you just select the people and send them out at the same time LinkedIn will send the canned invitation which you do not want.
Anyway, congrats go out to Bill. For the record Bill is a franchise consultant so if you or anyone you know is curious about franchising he’s the best place to start.