Thursday 19 February, 2015

Effective Networking with LinkedIn – Tips and Best Practices

Networking is important for any business, both online and off. It’s best to do a bit of both and harness the advantages of each. A great way to network online is to use the social media site LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the social media site for business professionals and it’s designed for online networking. Here is how you can maximize your LinkedIn presence in order to get the most out of it.

Complete Your Profile

Complete every part of your profile. Write it so that it emphasizes not only what you do, but how you benefit the people you know. Think of it as an elevator speech or professional brochure, telling people what you’re about at a glance. When people come into contact with you, the first thing they’ll do is look at your profile to get the gist of who you are. If you’re not sure how to write your profile, spend some time looking at popular profiles of others.

Identify Your LinkedIn Networking Strategy

There are several ways to go about networking on LinkedIn and you should decide which suits you best. Some people are open networkers, which means they make their profile public and share it everywhere they are online. They want to get into contact with anyone and everyone.

Other users are more selective, only connecting with people they actually know or already have a connection with. Connecting openly with everyone is less focused and takes more time and effort. For one thing, you’ll have more contacts to organize.

Consider which approach best suits your needs and gets you closer to your networking goals.

Make It Personal

LinkedIn provides canned, generic introductory messages for its connection requests. But you’d never do this in an offline networking situation. You wouldn’t walk up to someone and demand they exchange contact information with you without another word.

Whenever you send a request to connect with someone, always write a personal message. Let them know who you are and explain the reason why you want to connect with them. Again, this should focus on the benefits you’re offering, and not what you want from them. Look at their profile for ideas and make it specific.

In your message, you should always identify how you know the person. If you met them offline, remind them of when and where you met. If you have a mutual connection, mention the person and how you know them.

Helpful Updates

If you regularly post content that’s interesting, useful and helpful, this will help greatly with your LinkedIn networking efforts. People will find you and connect to you through your updates. Your updates provide a great way to keep in touch and stay on your contacts’ radars so that when they need something, they’ll think of you. Your helpful content is also a good way to offer value upfront with no strings attached, which is great for any kind of networking.

Be Social

The whole point of social media is to interact with others, so join groups and participate wherever you can on the site. LinkedIn offers many different ways for users to interact with each other. For groups, examine the group carefully before joining. Make sure that it offers what you want and has an active membership. There are many dead groups and joining them is a waste of time.

The bottom line, as with all social media, is to be real. You should maintain a level of professionalism, but let people know there’s a real human being behind the profile and approach it just as you would offline networking.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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