When I started my virtual assistant company in 2009, I chose LinkedIn as my go-to social media platform for networking and marketing. Why? Because my niche market was external wholesalers, financial advisors, and other professionals in the financial services industry. Almost all of my prospects had a LinkedIn profile. Also, LinkedIn was easy to use and easy to manage.
Fast forward nine years and I still used LinkedIn as my number one social media platform. I’ve built some amazing relationships on LinkedIn and have learned over the years the best ways to use it to build a business.
If you are a professional marketing to other professionals, consider making it a bigger part of your networking efforts. I spend about 30 minutes a day on LinkedIn and it does take time to build a solid network but it’s worth it! Here’s how it’s worked for me.
Start with your profile. I admit, I need a better picture of myself (It’s on my To Do list), a good professional photo is a must. It still amazes me the people who went through the trouble of creating a LinkedIn page and then never added a photo. I don’t know about you, but I’m hesitant to connect with someone whose profile picture is a white silhouette of a person on a gray background. A professional photo is best but depending on your field you may be able to do just as much networking with a more casual one.
Complete as much of the profile as possible. Before someone will connect with you they want to look at your page to be able to see where you live, where you work, what your past work experiences are, where you went to college, etc. The more you include the better. Someone may connect with you for the simple fact that they notice you went to the same college, live in the same city, or are both a part of the same group or organization. You never know what might attract more connections, so fill it all out.
Start connecting. This is the way I look at it … I reach out to people who I can help, not people who can help me. There has to be something in it for my connections. Why would they be interested in connecting with me? What problem do they have that I can solve? I only reach out to a very specific group of people. I’m not just willy-nilly connecting with everyone on LinkedIn.
As far as connecting there are a few ways to do it. You can either send a request to connect with someone, you can send a note to request a connection or you can go through a mutual connection to connect with someone. I’ve sent invites and notes but I’ve never requested a connection through a mutual connection.
When it comes to deciding on whether to send an invite or a note I suggest this: When you are just starting out and building your network – send notes. If you are requesting connections that have very few mutual connections with you – send a note. If you are requesting connections from people that have a lot of mutual connections, like say 20 or more – send an invite.
When someone requests a connection with me, I personally look to see how many connections we have in common. If we have a ton of connections in common, I’ll connect with them. If we don’t have many connections in common then I would like to see a note as to why I should connect with this person.
Send a personal note to your connections. Once someone has connected with you, send them a personal note introducing yourself. You want to make it clear who you are, what you do, and how you can help them or how they can help you. Maybe they have a product or service, you are interested in. I have found that I get more responses from personal notes than group ones where everyone is bcc’d in a mass email.
Be active. One way to maximize your visibility is to post relevant material to your business. Post articles, blog posts, images … anything that can create a buzz about your business and how you help others.
Also, by joining groups in your target market you can post your relevant materials in those groups as well to gain more visibility.
In my 30 minutes a day on LinkedIn, I first send personal messages to everyone who has connected with me since the day before. Then I go to the People You May Know list and try to connect with as many people as I can for the remainder of that time.
Once per week, I do post a blog on my profile as well as in five groups that I’m in. The blog posts drive traffic to my LinkedIn site and often to my website.
If I spent more time on LinkedIn, I know I could increase my exposure and increase my business. Since it’s summer, I am sticking with my current process, but this Fall, I plan on increasing my exposure with more industry-related materials that will be more helpful to my prospects. Even if they don’t work with me, I want to see them succeed.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful and will spend a few minutes today updating your LinkedIn profile, joining a few groups, and creating a LinkedIn calendar to help keep you spending a few minutes each day building your network. After a few weeks, you will notice an increase in your visibility. I didn’t grow my almost 4,000 connections overnight.
In the past several years, I’ve only ever gotten business through either LinkedIn, word-of-mouth referrals, or people finding me on a Google search. I don’t have an advertising budget and it’s been wonderful.
More about me:
I am the Founder of Elite Scheduling Services. We offer appointment setting, marketing, and administrative services to professionals in the financial and real estate industries. You can find more information about me and my company at www.eliteschedulingservices.com.