How to Get ‘LinkedIn’ like a Superstar… in Ten Minutes a Day
There are a lot of social networking sites out there. Twitter is big, popular, and growing. And it can be highly valuable for businesses when used correctly (which is why I coach on it). But it is certainly not the only social networking site useful for business.
LinkedIn was launched in 2002, which makes it a “granddaddy” among its peers. And, unlike other social networking sites, it has a specific niche focus of creating and empowering professional connections (compare that focus with Twitter and Facebook which are for everyone but can be used by professionals in specific ways). In other words, on Twitter you’re going to get a mix of business and personal followers and you can freely range back and forth between personal messages (“I’m going out with my family tonight for ice cream”) and professional messages (“For information on mastering Twitter, click this link”). On LinkedIn, it is acceptable to take a more “professional-only” and even sales-oriented approach.
If you’re new to LinkedIn or an occasional user, let me give you a quick overview of the features:
PROFILE: Everyone has a profile. You can put your C.V. on the bio along with links and contact info and your tagline, etc. LinkedIn has also started adding a few applications (including an Amazon plug-in, a blog plug-in, file storage through box.net, and virtual workrooms) to add to your profile in order to help you keep people informed and to help you connect with others in different ways.
CONNECTIONS: Once you have a profile, you build up your connections. You invite people you know and have worked with to connect with you. These are your “first degree” connections. Then you can see more info about their connections (which are your “second degree” connections) and then you can see more information about your connections’ connections’ connections (which are your “third degree” connections). If you want to meet a second degree connection, you ask your first degree connection for an introduction.
GROUPS: There are a number of types of groups – Professional groups, Networking groups, Corporate groups, Alumni groups – that you can be part of. Each group has places to post news and have discussions and network with others who share the same affiliation. There are plenty of groups for all kinds of interests and professions.
ANSWERS: Very similar to many of the other “questions and answers” sites online (Yahoo Answers, Answers.com, and so on), LinkedIn provides a place where people can ask and answer questions on a variety of business-related topics.
Of course there are other aspects of LinkedIn, but the above just highlights a couple of the main features.
LinkedIn is a tool that is only useful when you’re actually using it. Having a network of people is pointless if that network is inactive. But, when put to good use, your network can be priceless. LinkedIn is a good tool to position yourself and to leverage your relationships.
So, here is what you can do on LinkedIn, in just ten minutes a day:
Start by updating your LinkedIn profile. Add in as much information as appropriate and connect your profile to some books on Amazon and your blog and any other application that might seem appropriate. This might take more than ten minutes, depending on how active you were on the site before. If you need to, spend a couple of days (at ten minutes a day if that’s all you can spare) to optimize your profile for people who might be looking at it.
Next, make sure your contact list is up to date. You might want to import your contacts from your CRM system or your email address book. Get everyone into one place and connect with them.
Also, download the LinkedIn toolbar for your browser so you can use it at a moment’s notice.
Finally, determine some short-term goals you have for your business; things you want to accomplish within 1 week to 1 month.
These are the initial steps that you’ll take and once those are done, you’ll be ready to move forward by performing the next steps in just ten minutes every day.
First, sign in to LinkedIn and update your status. Like the status line on Facebook, this is just a simple way for you to tell people what you’re doing. Use it to describe what you’re working on that day and make sure it positions you well. Like this: “I’m coaching 3 clients on how they can use Twitter to grow their business.” Duration: 30 seconds.
Second, connect with someone. This isn’t always possible because you might not have someone to connect with, but try anyway. Even if you end up with 2 or 3 a week, you’ll still grow your network by 100 to 150 a year. Don’t forget your doctor, dentist, lawyer, and drycleaner. Duration: 30 seconds.
Third, find a question in the Answers section that you can apply your expertise to, and answer it. Be sure to answer thoroughly and link to any resources or references that can help support your position. Be helpful rather than self-promoting, but it’s okay to leave a link to your site in the signature line. Duration: 1-2 minutes.
Fourth, find a discussion in a group that you belong to and participate there. If you’re not sure how you should be responding, adopt the same rules as you might use in a forum: Avoid blatant self-promotion in favor of thoughtful, value-added answers. Duration: 1-2 minutes.
Lastly, pull out your list of goals (which you prepared during the “preliminary work” section) and look through your contact list for 1 person who can help. It might be that you already have someone in your first degree contacts who can help you. Or, maybe you need an introduction to someone in your second or third degree contacts.
- For a first degree connection, you might write something like: “Jennifer, I’ve enjoyed working with you in the past. Your graphic designs have always communicated the message I needed. I have a goal this month of aligning my branding across several marketing channels. Would you have a moment to speak with me about how the graphical element would need to change? And, do you know someone who might assist with the content side of the branding?”
- For a second degree introduction, you might write something like: “Jack, I noticed that Maria is a contact of yours who is a Ruby on Rails developer with a background in business. That is exactly the kind of person I’m looking for to help me with a new project I’m working on. Would you kindly make an introduction? I’d appreciate it.”
By doing this, you’ll be really using your network instead of just collecting names. And just imagine how much you’ll get done when you proactively work through a list of your business’ goals with the help of 5 people each week! Duration: 4-6 minutes.
There you have it! In ten minutes you have positioned yourself, added a connection to grow your network, and sought help on business goals you have.
But that’s not all. If you find that you have a few more minutes, consider these activities. If I were you, I’d do one of these a day in a rotation and try to keep the duration to 2 minutes per day.
Give a recommendation: Recommendations are testimonials – saying something nice about someone in your network. Give recommendations freely. (You will get some in return but don’t expect them). Make sure they are truthful and spell check them before clicking “submit”.
Ask a question: You have questions; everyone does. LinkedIn gives you a great place to ask them and get good advice back from people who know what they are talking about. When you get some responses, interact with the responders via email and thank them.
Join a group: You might do this daily in the beginning, but at some point it will become tedious to comb through the existing groups to find ones that are relevant. So if you stick to picking 1-2 groups a week to join, that will be enough. After all, you don’t just want to join them, you want to participate!
See those people with the word “LION” after their name? No, they do not live on an African savannah and chase gazelles. It stands for “LinkedIn Open Networker”. Open Networkers are those people who don’t feel that you MUST know the people you’re connecting with (which is something that LinkedIn has suggested is important and designed into their interface). These open networkers are open to invitations even from people they don’t directly know. And guess what: these people are connected! You can easily build your network from a few dozen to a few hundred in just days by joining a LinkedIn Group related to these “LIONs”. Join the LinkedIn group “TopLinked” (or visit their site at TopLinked.com), which is one of the best ways to connect with more people.
Now, not all of you will want to be open networkers. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with it because it doesn’t seem to be different than mutual following on Twitter. But, if you plan to grow your network (and use it!!!) then this is a good way to grow it rapidly.
The most important thing:
The most important thing about LinkedIn is to USE your network. People who sign up to LinkedIn and don’t use their network effectively won’t derive any value from the site. But if you work your connections and seek to add value to them (and ask for help from them), you will enjoy your LinkedIn network just as much as you might enjoy a local, face-to-face networking event… and it only takes 10 minutes a day!
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