The one key element to success on LinkedIn

You are the difference on LinkedInI feel a bit of a rant coming on today … I often see posts where people confidently announce that they are revealing the secrets to success on LinkedIn. That you should do ‘this’ or ‘that’ to achieve success, untold wealth and probably one hundred and other miscellaneous benefits … and usually all this is available at $37 reduced (for a limited period, of course) from the normal $497.

Did that come across as slightly cynical of some of my “online marketing” brethren and their offers? My apologies if so …

However, there is one key to success on LinkedIn and one only – though I grant you that it is one that brings all of the other elements together. It is nevertheless one that is sadly overlooked.

The answer of course is YOU!

What do I mean by ‘You’? Well, I’m talking about the accumulated experience and knowledge you’ve built up over the years – not so much the technical stuff and knowledge of certain industries, technologies and the like (though that certainly has its place), but rather your experience of dealing, working and communicating with people.

That’s the real skill which will determine how successful you are on LinkedIn and luckily you are already an expert! The truth of the matter is that you know how to work with people … how to talk to them face to face or on the phone, how to engage with them by email etc because it’s something that you are doing on a daily basis! LinkedIn, at its core, is just another channel to engage with people and a tool to amplify the messages.

And let’s face it, we all have access to the same set of tools and opportunities. The same technology is on offer both to those who make a success of their time on LinkedIn and to those who manage to rub people up the wrong way as well. The difference is the way we use it … and just like the phone, email, mobile or face to face, it is one that can either employ well or badly.

While it is true that it has the potential to revolutionise what you are doing, in general, what it will primarily do is amplify the traits and methods that are already displaying … good or bad.

An example if I may – LinkedIn alone cannot make you a great business developer, if that’s what you are on LinkedIn for. However, it can help you to:

  • identify new opportunities and potential target organisations using the advanced search or groups
  • map out the stakeholders you need to reach in a company or target organisation
  • identify the best approaches to reach them while avoiding gatekeepers and the like
  • build up a target list of companies using “insights” and company searches
  • open up your network’s networks to show you routes to reach these key people
  • leverage recommendations and targeted referrals to smoothe the appraisal process
  • display your knowledge and expertise in Groups and also by sharing relevant and information with key people
  • etc. etc.

This can help the process enormously and it is all available to us … it is, however, up to each of us to then use and nurture that, to build our credibility and positioning, contact the people in the most appropriate way and use the new information sources and avenues we have at our disposal in parallel with our existing skills.

Most people in business know how to do this… it’s just a case of getting down and actually doing so.

It’s for that reason that I encourage people to consider LinkedIn not as a “Facebook for Professionals” but rather as a networking event in a large room filled with the normal mix of people, some of whom you already know, some who are competitors, some who you’d be delighted to talk to and others probably not … we then all ‘work the room’ in different ways and with different aims, but if you at least engage with people on LinkedIn in a personable and professional way (as you would face to face), then there will be opportunities come out of it.

If you wander around incognito with a proverbial paper bag on your head handing out business cards and not engaging, then unfortunately you will not – you will be wasting your time, not to mention that of those people you “meet”.

I’ll get off my soap box now …. and I look forward to meeting YOU on LinkedIn, the real YOU that I would also meet in real life and hopefully not just some persona you are trying to create online. 🙂

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