Online Guide Showing You How To Use Linkedin For Business - In this section we look at 4 different ways to develop meaningful relationships on LinkedIn.
When social media first became a popular business tool for networking, building brands, and establishing authority and credibility, many people networked haphazardly.
Their approach was akin to throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what would stick.
The goal was to connect with as many people as possible with the hope that some of those relationships might be fruitful. Sadly, some people still use social media this way.
However social media has evolved. It has become what it was always meant to be and that is a way to connect with people and build relationships.
It has become more personal and therefore potentially more valuable.
The process of friending or following or liking as many people as possible no longer provides the same benefit.
Instead it's more powerful to actually make meaningful connections and build relationships online.
When it comes online networking for business professionals there is no tool that is more useful than LinkedIn.
Unfortunately many people use LinkedIn to make connections but they don't fully utilize the power of this amazing social networking site.
Over the next few modules here we’re going to take a look at 4 different ways to develop meaningful relationships on LinkedIn.
The first step to building meaningful relationships on LinkedIn is to pay attention to who you connect with.
It’s not uncommon to receive connection requests from virtual strangers.
These strangers may have no apparent connection to you.
They’re in a different industry and they’ve never worked with you or anyone that you know.
Not long ago a PR executive’s lash out at a random connection request went viral.
She wrote a scathing reply to the request stating amongst other things that invitation to connect was “inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky.” Two things happened.
The response went viral largely because there is truth in her response. It’s not appropriate or helpful to seek one way relationships.
But it also generated an apology from the executive because LinkedIn is a place to connect.
When you’re reaching out to make connections, keep the following best practices and guidelines in mind.
Do You Have a Legitimate Connection?
Is the person you’re inviting to connect someone you know?
Have you worked in the same industry, for the same company or with fellow peers? Are you connected on other social media sites?
If you know the person or have a legitimate reason to connect with them, then reaching out is relevant and appropriate.
Be Real, Use a Personalized Approach
It may be tempting to create a request template. When you come across someone you want to connect with all you have to do is paste your template into the request.
However, if you want to increase the odds of them accepting your connection invitation and you want the relationship to be a productive one, consider a personalized approach.
Within your email, let them know who you are and why you would like to connect.
Make sure it is apparent to them that this isn’t a one way street.
Connecting with you should provide them with some benefit (and that benefit shouldn’t be your latest and greatest product or service. Don’t sell in your invite.)
Your profile should be an accurate reflection of who you are and what you have to offer.
Make sure that it is kept up to date and that the information you publish is accurate.
Accountability and transparency are essential for meaningful business relationships.
If you have a website, blog, or other social media accounts make sure to link your profile to those pages.
This helps accomplish a few things. First, it helps potential connections learn more about you.
It can motivate them to accept your initiator to connect. Secondly, it helps you consistently provide value and information.
As you publish new content to your blog or other social media pages, that content can be automatically published on LinkedIn as well.
Great LinkedIn profiles include:
A Compelling and value driven headline.
Use your headline to set yourself apart and to identify the value of connecting with you.
Use the space to identify your specialty. Who are you and what do you do?
Talk to your audience and make sure to be both specific and creative.
If you’re interested in attracting valuable connections, keywords in your headline can help.
An attention grabbing and value driven summary.
Your summary isn’t a recitation of your resume.
It’s an opportunity to talk to your audience and let them know how you can help them.
Think about how you can translate what you do into a benefit for your readers.
What value do you offer them? What makes you unique and special?
Relevant work history.
Instead of regurgitating your resume, which you can attach to your profile, your work history is an opportunity to show what you’re capable of.
Use examples of your success.
And make sure that the information you’re providing is relevant to your audience.
It should also be noted that any relevant volunteer information and achievements can be listed under work history.
Endorsements are an opportunity for other people to attest to your skills, knowledge, and experience.
They’ve become a popular feature of LinkedIn.
In fact, according to LinkedIn, they average 50 million endorsements each week. (Source: http://blog.linkedin.com/2013/03/06/1-billion-endorsements-given-on-linkedin-infographic/)
While people tend to give endorsements with nothing attached, you have the opportunity to gain more relevant endorsements when you reciprocate.
Endorse people who can in turn endorse you for the skills and abilities you’re striving to advertise on LinkedIn.
For example, if you’re an accountant and someone endorses you for your guitar playing abilities, that’s not going to help you network with other industry professionals.
However, they might think you’re pretty cool for knowing how to play guitar.
Finally, a good profile is an active profile which leads us to the next point.
Have you ever met someone who could talk about themselves incessantly and never stops to ask you how you’re doing?
There are people like that on social media and LinkedIn.
They post and post and post and link to everything they’ve ever shared online.
What they don’t do is respond to comments, engage people in conversations, or interact. Hey, it’s called social networking for a reason. Be social!
Reach out to people in your network, people you want to build relationships with, and ask them how they’re doing.
Share industry information with them via personal notes.
Engagement also comes in the form of participating, or creating, LinkedIn Groups and by publishing relevant content.
LinkedIn Groups provides a place where you can meet people with similar interests or professional peers.
You can use groups to share content and engage in industry related conversations. You can ask questions and provide answers to questions.
Joining or creating a group is easy. Use the search feature at the top of your home page or review the suggestions to join a group.
Create a new group by visiting the Group page, https://www.linkedin.com/grp/, and clicking on “Create a Group”.
Follow the steps to create your group and to invite people to join.
Groups can be by invite only or open. Open groups allow you to meet and connect with new people.
Create a plan to consistently publish content via LinkedIn. Don’t just share relevant content but also write your own content.
The goal is to provide value to your readers and to position yourself as an expert in your field.
Publishing one quality piece of content each week is sufficient. If you cannot make that happen, start with one or two each month.
Keep in mind that the content you publish doesn’t have to be written content.
You can create videos as well as graphics and infographics.
The format isn’t as important as the consistency and the quality of information.
Publishing content is the first step to initiating conversations with people.
When you receive comments, questions, or messages from other connections, it’s important to respond promptly, professionally, and memorably.
Become the person that others turn to when they have questions.
Schedule and Commit
In order to become a valuable member of LinkedIn society and to build meaningful business relationships, consistent interaction is required.
Not just consist publishing but also commenting and engaging in conversations.
The easiest way to follow through on your desire to build meaningful relationships is to create a plan.
Set a Realistic Goal
Decide what you can commit to. Can you write one post each week? Can you commit to thirty minutes a day of interacting on LinkedIn?
an you commit to creating a group or becoming a valuable member of a group, or two?
Can you commit to personally reaching out to one connection each week?
Decide what your priorities are and what you feel you can realistically accomplish.
Create an Action Plan
Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to look at your daily and weekly schedule and make it happen.
What are the best days and times to log into your LinkedIn account and engage? How often each week do you want to interact?
Not surprisingly, the most active times on LinkedIn tend to be lunchtime and after work, between 5 and 6 p.m.
These are great times to publish and to interact because the people you want to build relationships with may be active at those times to. You can have real time conversations.
You can also schedule your activity to be right before those active times to ensure that your content and posts are read.
Weekends are often a good time to organize and create your content for the following week.
Plan what you’re going to post, when you’re going to post it and your interaction times once a week.
Also look back to the prior week to evaluate your success and to make necessary changes to your plan.
Whether it’s a personal relationship or a business relationship, they’re both built on trust.
In order to feel comfortable turning to someone for assistance in your career, advice, or connections you have to be able to trust them.
That means not only trusting in their information but also in their credibility.
In addition to connecting with peers that you feel you can trust, it’s important to establish yourself as a credible and trustworthy authority in your industry.
You can accomplish this in a number of ways including:
Make Sure You Publish and Share Only Top Quality Content
Don’t share content unless you’ve reviewed it first. Make sure it’s worthy of a share.
Also make sure that anything you publish is top quality information.
Cite your sources and be completely transparent.
For example, if you’re talking about industry technology and you haven’t had personal experience using one or more of the technologies share that information along with what you know about the technology and where you got your information.
Admit What You Don’t Know
Be the person who is willing to say, “I don’t know but I’ll find out.”
Or “I don’t know; what do you think?”
Many people tend to feel afraid to admit that they don’t know everything.
It’s important to share information when you feel it’s relevant, valuable, and correct.
However, fi you don’t know the answer, don’t make things up.
LinkedIn isn’t just a place to show what you know; it’s a place to learn.
Engage and Interact Often
People trust other people that they connect with often. It’s pretty difficult to trust someone that you hear from once a month.
However, if you connect with them often, when they need assistance or advice, they’ll turn to you.
You can become a trustworthy source of information by making your presence known in a helpful way.
Also don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Relationships are two way streets and by showing others that you value and respect their opinions, meaningful business relationships are formed.
How you leverage your LinkedIn relationships is up to you. There are limitless possibilities.
You can find future business partners on LinkedIn. You can find a new job.
You can also promote your business by finding new products or services to support or you can find people who are interested in supporting you.
Referrals are a great way to grow a business.
Consider establishing your goals for LinkedIn before you start building and fostering your relationships.
What do you want to achieve? What is your reason for networking on LinkedIn?
Establishing your goals before you interact helps you create a stronger profile as well as a better plan for engaging, connecting, and building meaningful relationships.
A lot of times, lack of success in using social network marketing is the result of a lack of knowledge or understanding in how it works and what the etiquette is for each platform.
If this is the case, then you should take the time to begin researching the subject it is that you don’t know much about.
There is a lot of power and relief that comes from learning about various topics that can help your online business and your career development.
Here are some social networking training products you can buy online that I think look very useful:
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