No matter what size of organisation we work for, a local market is going to be important to us. Our individual versions of “local” will vary of course – it may be a town, a county or even a whole country, but it is our home market and one that needs to be considered. For many smaller organisations, it can often be their only market or, at the very least, the mainstay of their business and hence a key area to nurture and develop.
With LinkedIn, perhaps more so than any of the other major social networks whose scope are after all global in nature, we have the chance to tap directly into our local marketplace, so it’s important to make sure we know how to use the tools at our disposal to do just that. Making ourselves visible and easy to refer is one half of the equation, the other is to use the facilities on LinkedIn to proactively identify, approach and market to this key group of people.
Here are 10 ways in which we can use LinkedIn to do just that:
Most of us wear more than one hat in business and on LinkedIn, we reflect this by having a number of “Current” roles on our profile. This might also include membership of business organisations, networking groups, non exec positions etc. or we may simply be using it as part of our LinkedIn Profile optimisation and hence splitting out the roles we have to help push us towards the top of the search results in LinkedIn.
Whatever our reasons, we almost certainly have one which we particularly want to be known for and which should appear at the top and then a preferred order for the others to appear. Previously on LinkedIn, we could only change that order by ‘playing’ with the start dates, as the roles were ordered purely on the basis of the start date for each role.
That is no longer the case.
We all have networks of contacts. Thankfully, we don’t usually refer to them as “our network” – we talk about business colleagues, friends, clients, family, people we met at networking events, prospects etc. Nevertheless, they are all part of our personal and/or business network.
Therefore, for me, an important first step in developing our online network on LinkedIn is to link up with these people, the ideal people that you want to connect with – the people who are in your network already! While it does many things, one key element is that it immediately makes their network more visible to us – not to then dive in and ‘pillage’ but to identify where personal introductions might be possible through people we know well. There’s no stronger approach to a company than through a personal introduction and this opens up that opportunity.
So how to bring our networks online
In most cases, we keep in touch with them by phone or, more often than not, by email. And there’s lies an opportunity and one that LinkedIn offers us some tools to help (more…)
There’s long been an (often) animated debate as to the “right” way to approach networking and particularly to building your network.
In the red corner: there are advocates of a quality based approach where you only connect with people you either know well or who are directly relevant to you and what you do;
In the blue corner: over here, the watchword is ‘quantity’ and so the aim is to connect with all and sundry and rely on the idea of serendipity, that’s to say that these people are bound to know someone (who knows someone) who will be interested in what you do or offer.
LinkedIn of course supports both approaches and seemingly takes no sides in this.
However, there is a caveat to this because of the way that LinkedIn structures and displays its search results, which may influence your thoughts on this. This is particularly relevant if you are looking at this as a (new) business development tool (more…)
*** UPDATE: Unfortunately the Events section was removed by LinkedIn at the end of 2012 and is no longer available ***
The events section in LinkedIn is a great place to promote events – I’m guessing that might not come as too big a surprise to you? However, just in case you weren’t even aware of its existence (shame on you – or should that be shame on LinkedIn?) then you will find it hidden away under the ‘More’ button on their main menu.
Hopefully that may well change but, in any case, it doesn’t take away from all the benefits it offers. And what are they, Mark, I hear you ask?
[Update: December 2012 – I’m afraid that as of November 2012, LinkedIn has decided to drop this very useful feature. While we are trying to get in re-instated through weight of requests, only time will tell.]
Well, the bits that I personally find most useful are:
Short and sweet today and, at the same time, one of the most powerful things you can do on LinkedIn.
You receive an invitation to connect and press the “Accept” button. Another connection made. But should you leave it at that? I say no. At that moment, perhaps more than any other, you have the perfect opportunity to develop that potential relationship easily and immediately by writing back and getting the conversation going right there and then.
Let’s face it – if you were at a face to face networking event and you’ve just gone through the “preliminaries” of introducing yourselves, would you just leave it at that? It would seem unusual to do so … maybe counterproductive even, almost giving off the message that well I now know the minimum about you and that’s all I want. (more…)