Picture the scene, its 2007 and I have just been introduced to the frankly bizarre world of networking in St Albans. Introducing yourself to complete strangers with a cheery, “So what do you do?” Elevator pitches. Trying to discreetly read name badges. Scanning the room. Cooked breakfast at 6am. #donotgeteggdownyourfront
In at number 1 was #hardcore BNI – the frenetic atmosphere of a Moonies convention with all the pressure of a Weightwatchers meeting. I loved it.
At the other end of the scale was the Chamber of Commerce – many, many men in pinstripe suits and the smell of decades of solid relationships. I loved it.
I’d come back to the office having shaken hands with a dozen people, and pockets full of business cards.
Not keen to do a cheesy follow up email or call and ‘say sorry we didn’t get chance to talk’; booking 1-2-1s with everyone would be too time consuming but I knew that the value was in the follow up.
Thank the Lord for LinkedIn – your little black book, the old boy/girl club, your Rolodex, your ‘go to’ guys, your suppliers, your referrers and introducers, your pipeline, your client base – Your Network.
All in one place.
Back then there were 5 million active users in the UK, now, 12 years on there are over 25 million – that’s 62% of the working population.
How can you really get the most out of LinkedIn to build your relationships with the people you meet and stay in people’s minds once the post-networking LinkedIn invitation has been accepted?
Here are some ideas of how you can add value to your connections on LinkedIn and make sure you become the go-to person when they next need your advice, opinion, time or expertise.
How to get the most out of LinkedIn:
- Add some value – share an article, start a debate, educate and inform, challenge my thinking
- Use an image or a video – look at how your post looks on a mobile if you need convincing of this
- Link back to your website whenever possible – that’s where the magic will happen.
- Be authentic – this is your business persona; if you wear a tee shirt and jeans to work, don’t be in a suit in your profile picture.
- Use a professional headshot not a cropped family picture or logo.
- Weave your keywords through your profile to maximise SEO potential
- Write in the first person, this is not your CV.
- Think carefully about your title, endorsements, post regularly with rich, varied content; you can use Google alerts for ideas but be discerning.
- Be open to connection requests from strangers; consider whether you would be comfortable having a cup of tea and a chat with this person offline as a benchmark.
- When you want to connect to someone, add a personal message, like you would in real life.
- Be disciplined – I don’t allow myself my first cup of (essential) coffee until I have posted on LinkedIn. Every week day since 2007. Yep.
- Be generous with your time and effort, read other peoples’ content and engage – a like, comment, share is valuable online currency.
- Understand hashtags and what part they play, when in doubt, don’t.
- Connect with people online who you met offline, grow your network organically.
- Monitor traffic quantity and quality from LinkedIn via your Google Analytics account.