Your connections are key to everything that you do on LinkedIn – they really are the start point for all of your activity, either directly or as advocates for what you do. They form the core of your network and your 2nd level, 3rd level connections etc. all radiate out from them, so without them, you have no network! Fairly key, I think you’d agree!
One of our first steps therefore needs to be that we ensure that we connect up with our ‘real world’ network on LinkedIn, to gather the people that we have worked with, customers, suppliers and partners around you – this in turn will hopefully allow us to then work with them and tap into opportunities that will be jointly beneficial. These are after all the people who are best placed to recommend you, your expertise and the services or products that you offer or represent.
To help this ongoing process to happen most effectively, it’s important to be able to divide our connections up and be able to sort, categorise and filter them – that way, if you are looking to reach out and communicate to particular groups of people you will be able to do so as effectively as possible. Working with LinkedIn’s system to achieve this and then using that categorisation in a way which will benefit both you and them is consequently going to be very important.
On LinkedIn, the way that we can achieve this is through “Tagging”. LinkedIn has given us the opportunity for some time now, as part of their built in CRM functionality, to tag our connections which in turn allows us to build very important and coherent segments that we may be able to use and contact.
Tags are essentially keywords (or keyword phrases) that you can use to identify and then subsequently organise and sort your connections – you might consider them as a type of folder where you can place them to be able to contact them afterwards or perhaps as a post-it note to remind you about key facts or elements about them.
NB. They are visible only to you and people are not informed that they have been tagged so there is no issue on that front.
How to Tag someone on LinkedIn
Well, you can tag people from two places on the site – the main focal point I would suggest is the “Connections” area in the main menu. Here as you hover over a connection’s name you get 3 options appear below – tag, Message and More.
If you click on the “Tag” link then you are presented with a list of all of the tags that you have already created – by clicking on the tick box next to it, you can then add that tag to the connection’s profile.
If you wish to create a new tag (and we are all allowed to create up to 200 of our own choosing) then just scroll to the bottom of the list and you’ll find a “Add a new Tag” link.
The other place is from the person’s Personal Profile page – if you are already connected, then instead of a star shape on the left hand side under the photo, you should instead see a star with “relationship” next to it. Click on that and you get summary of the communications you’ve had, the chance to add notes, set alarms and, for the sake of this article, the ability to add tags.
You can add multiple tags – there may be a limit but you can certainly add up to 25 and more, so you should be able to categorise and sort as you require.
What tags to use?
Well, that very much depend on what you wish to use the tagging for. Given that you are able to choose the tags yourselves, then they can fit as closely as you like to what you are looking to achieve. It could be a way to allow you to sort exhibition contacts to help follow up, people with certain skills, people at certain levels / departments in organisations.
If you are in business development, then you may like to take it a little systematically and build in a pipeline type of set up. In this instance, you might like to use tags to categorise contacts you have made and the stage in the engagement process they are such as:
2. Identified prospect
3. Initial Contact
4. Sent Information
5. Follow up
6. 1st meeting etc
Having a system such as this set up really helps in structuring what you do and how to go about it.
Sorting people by tags
To do this, it’s back to our connections area accessed from the main menu. AT the top you have the chance to filter your connections by various criteria – the start point is “Filter By: All Contacts” but if you click it allows you to select ‘tags’ and then choose one of the tags that you have entered in to your system. This will then return all of the people that you have tagged accordingly.
On the back of that, you can perhaps simply contact them directly, or tag them all with a new separate tag, disconnect should you wish to and also message them as a group (of up to 50 people at a time) which starts to give us some very powerful options from a direct marketing perspective.
Should it replace CRM system or database?
Being the conservative type, I wouldn’t suggest that you use this as your main source of database management. This data sits on LinkedIn and there is currently no way to export that – equally, I have seen too many times that LinkedIn has arbitrarily decided to get rid of certain functions (the Products and Services pages come most painfully to mind) and so I would never use it as a primary information area. It can, however, act as a great aid to facilitate the work that you are doing on LinkedIn and offer.
So, tags have a great role to play and, despite being a largely unknown part of the LinkedIn ecosystem, offers excellent potential to those willing to invest the time and then tap into that subsequently. The more targeted the message and the engagement the better and tagging on LinkedIn helps do just that.