LinkedIn is truly about connections. And as such, it can be a great resource for targeted networking. By joining groups, attending events and utilizing current connections to make new connections, you can grow your business network, and advertise your skills – expanding your reach and your brand.
When you start using LinkedIn, think about goals. Do you want to reach out to potential referral partners? Try to get new clients? Identify strategic partners?
Set parameters for the type of person who fits what you’re looking for: location, industry, number of connections, profile keywords, business owner – find the people you really want to meet, decide how best to touch them and reach out to them.
Connect with these people. Customize the “personal note” option in the connection request. Ask them for a coffee meeting and if that isn’t feasible, suggest a web conference—look at these meetings as being mutually beneficial. How can you help that person and how can they help you?
Focus on providing value for others and being a connector. The more you do this, the more you enhance the value of what you bring to the table, either as an end provider or as a source.
Remember, not every meeting will be exactly what you’re looking for, but neither is every networking event—or every conversation at a networking event. LinkedIn gives you more control and allows you to be more efficient.
The person you “meet” may not be the right one for you, but they may know someone who knows someone who knows someone who will be beneficial to your circle – whether it’s as a potential colleague or customer – whether they have a similar background or just a complimentary one – it’s all about mapping out the route you want to take and following the linking connections to get you there.
Today, everyone is doing business on a global scale – even if the core of your business and customers are in your own backyard. With the advent of the Internet and the growing popularity over the past 10 years of social media, our “communities” expand around the world and back. As of January 2013, LinkedIn has 200 million acquired users in 200 countries and territories.
You never know who someone knows and how word about your services, products and skills can spread to the right person, at the right time. There is a series of Fabergé Organics Shampoo commercials from the late 1970s – early 1980s, including one with Heather Locklear. The basis was the growing popularity of the shampoo by simple word of mouth – she told someone, and they told someone, and so on and so on and so on. That’s the basic concept of LinkedIn – keeping the connection and communication lines open, and then expanding them and breaking the barriers that once held a business tightly in a bubble.
Instead of actively “telling” someone and then having the chain reaction of the message growing & growing, by simply engaging on LinkedIn, you’re sending the message out that you are here and that what you have to offer is available, and valuable.
And by visualizing your end goals and mindfully targeting the best course of action to take, you can use your connections and those of your outlying “network” to get to where you want to go and engage with those who best fit your target profile – whether it be a potential client, business partner or service provider.
LinkedIn isn’t just about putting up a profile with your skills and history, linking with old colleagues and classmates and getting recommendations to help further your career. It’s about expanding your reach, connecting to the right businesses, and the optimum people to share all you and your organization have to offer. And as more features and functionality are added to LinkedIn, the prospective opportunities are boundless.
Think of the potential. Imagine the possibilities.