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When is LinkedIn like face-to-face networking?

By JACKIE BARRIE Published 20th Oct 2014
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You may know LinkedIn as the biggest and best B2B* social network. Like most business-people, you’ve probably created a LinkedIn profile. It may appear on page 1 of Google for a search of your name. But does it work for you?

Most people throw up a profile but then do nothing with it and complain that LinkedIn doesn’t work.

The best way to use LinkedIn is to post articles, get active in the groups, and to arrange introductions via intelligent searching. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Articles

Articles posted on LinkedIn may reach a bigger audience than your blog can. The objective is to demonstrate expertise and reach a new audience. Some readers will share the link with their own networks. Some may click through to your website. Some may sign up for your newsletter/tipsheet.

Perhaps this is equivalent to being the guest speaker at a face-to-face networking event. You may not meet everyone in the audience, but they all have the opportunity to find out who you are and learn something useful from you.

Groups

Everything is happening in the LinkedIn groups. But there’s no point being in a group if you don’t read some of the threads and engage in some of conversations.

Try to join groups where your target clients interact (you can find out what groups someone is in by looking at the foot of their profiles). If you only join groups comprising people who do the same thing as you, you’ll find lots of useful learning, but you won’t necessarily win any business.

You can also click ‘reply privately’ to have a LinkedIn conversation with someone who’s active in the same group as you, even if they are not in your network.

Like face-to-face networking, people don’t generally buy the first time they meet you – you need to get to know each other first. So sharing sales messages will quickly get you kicked out of your groups. The objective is to share expertise and build relationships. It’s out of the relationships that the business flows.

Searching & introductions

Click ‘Advanced’ on the right hand side of the LinkedIn search box (middle of the grey bar).

  • In the column on the left, enter your desired keyword, type your postcode, and select ‘within 10 miles’ (for example)
  • In the middle column, untick everything except ’2nd level connections’
  • Ignore the boxes on the right with ‘gold’ buttons beside them, as these are only searchable by paid members

LinkedIn will return a list of people that meet your criteria. Underneath each name will be a green link saying ’8 connections in common’ (or similar). Click that link and you will see who knows whom.

I recommend you ignore the ‘get introduced’ option that LinkedIn gives you (it’s under the arrow beside the ‘connect’ button). It’s better to pick up the phone and say: “LinkedIn tells me you know So-and-so. How well do you know them? I’d like to talk to them about XYZ. Would you be willing to introduce me? Shall we all meet up for coffee/lunch?”

This is how you can access the network of your network.

Half a day and the magic happens…

I invest about four hours every time I go to a networking event. That includes attendance, preparation, travel time and follow-ups. You may do the same.

Imagine what you could achieve if you invested four hours on LinkedIn, every week or every month!

* Business-to-business

photo credit: TheSeafarer via photopin cc

Unique Views: 1212 | Total Page Views: 1465
164 weeks ago, by James
Thanks Jackie, a good reminder that I need to invest more time in LinkedIn. One of the problems that I find with LI and all social media is stuff just disappears very quickly as new content takes over.
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