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:
- I searched on companies I had worked at and Schools I attended to find people I knew in the past
- I looked through my Card Scan contact list of people I have met through the GNFCC
- 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:
- How can I use LinkedIn to build a credible network?
- Meet people I might not meet through the chamber
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
I’ll probably cover what Linked is and is not, some of the benefits, why your profile is important and updated user experience.
LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/seannelson
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