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.
- 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.
- 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
- It’s not a social network
- It’s not a contact manager
- It’s not a replacement for face to face networking
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:
- To increase your chance of being found; and
- 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.)
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:
- 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.
- 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
- Complete your profile with as much detail as possible
- Spell check it
- Make valid recommendations
- Ask and answer questions in the LinkedIn Answers section
- 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:
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.
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