10 ways professionals can use LinkedIn for business networking
1) Create an online brand ‘you’ using your profile
When you Google your name, your LinkedIn profile is likely to come top of the search results – above even your own company’s website & your biography.
Does this portray you in the best light? How can you create the best first impression?
Have a photo of you in business attire, head & shoulders, smiling - a great place to start. Then succinctly explain who you are, what you do, & how you can help – throughout the rest of your profile. It should be written in the first person & should not be a CV or history lesson.
Ensure you add your skills, personal interests & any papers you have written or achievements you have made. Make it easy for people to make that ‘instant’ good first impression.
2) Add existing clients to your network to get referrals from people they know
Once you add an existing client to your LinkedIn network, you maximise the chances of individuals they know seeing your connection, and enquiring about how you may be able to help them too. Not only that, but you are much more likely to be found in search results the more ‘volume’ of people you add to your network. Ask to be referred into new clients via existing ones.
3) Promote thought leadership through status updates
You are an expert in your particular field – be it the intricacies of tax law or one of the foremost authorities on a particular academic subject. How can you show your thought leadership through LinkedIn?
Even if you don’t have time to write articles or blogs yourself, post status updates with links to news articles that are relevant to your particular field of expertise, maybe from websites such as the BBC or The Law Society.
People will get to know you through the network for your interesting updates and see you as a thought leader.
4) Add school & university alumni to your network
I am surprised at the amount of work that comes to the business via my Lancaster University alumni network.
People like to feel a sense of ‘belonging’ in business – adding people you went to school & university with will mean they can help refer you into people they know & you can have wider access to their networks. LinkedIn just keeps this process effortless, and ensures you stay top of mind.
5) Gain some recommendations to help build ‘know, like & trust’
When I buy a book from Amazon, I often pay more heed to the 3rd party recommendations than the official marketing ‘blurb’.
Gaining a handful of testimonials for your LinkedIn profile really helps with that ‘know, like and trust’ factor again, and creates a killer first impression. Don’t overegg the pudding – too many may distract.
6) Create a company page for your organisation to showcase umbrella services
Company pages do not ‘network’ and build relationships on LinkedIn as individual profiles do – but they are very useful ‘portals’ to showcase the organisation as a whole, almost a mini website.
The products & services section can be particularly useful. Have details for different umbrella services – e.g. Employment law, arbitration, family law, tax, etc. These services can then collect recommendations in addition to personal ones.
7) Join groups where potential new clients are members & connect to them
Groups are like mini ‘networking rooms’ that exist within the huge conference of 150 million business professionals.
Which rooms are your clients in? If they are HR professionals, for example, join HR related groups – connect to members, start & contribute to discussions. ‘Shake hands’ with the right people in that room.
8) Use ‘Advanced Search’ to find decision makers within companies you want to do business with
I imagine you all have a target list of companies you’d love to have as clients. Use advanced search to find the right decision makers within these companies, and then connect on LinkedIn.
Always use a bespoke personal message – “as a fellow member of the HR UK group & industry professional, I’d like to add you to my network on LinkedIn…warm regards, Joan ”
Start that business relationship with warmth on LinkedIn. And no gatekeeper to get past!
9) Promote seminars using the Events application
LinkedIn has a superb ‘Events’ application you can use to promote seminars or client event days. You can invite individuals you find on advanced search to attend, or even search for other networking events happening in your industry or locally.
10) Once you’ve started an online relationship, move it into the real world
You should be on LinkedIn to facilitate new business relationships & to strengthen existing ones. But please don’t live in a LinkedIn ‘bubble’. Use it to ease the path to a ‘real life’ coffee or lunch meeting with a prospective client…. and take the ‘cold’ out of cold calling…forever.
If you introduce yourself to the right people, in the right way, & make the right first impression – LinkedIn can’t fail to bring you new business. What are you all waiting for?
Thanks to Michelle Beckett, Partner, Linked2Success for the use of this article