LinkedIn is a behemoth. It’s the world’s biggest business network. Well over 560 million users* have done their networking on LinkedIn and there are 106 million unique visitors to the site every month*.
Why is it so popular? The main reason is that, like Facebook, everyone who is anyone has a profile on LinkedIn. That means you can find out all about them and their business and even contact them without too much hassle. Like many (most?) business people, the first thing I do after meeting or even just hearing about someone interesting is check out their LinkedIn profile.
That brings me to my first tip.
1. Polish your profile
Your LinkedIn profile is your “business face” that the world may see. In fact, like being neat and well-dressed is important to make a good impression in an interview or meeting, so having a professional, polished LinkedIn profile is essential for making a good first impression to potential business partner, employers, or clients.
How do we polish our profiles?
Take the time to complete your profile with as much information as possible. Don’t skip out on any of the more important parts especially relating to experience, educations, and achievements.
Create a killer headline
The headline should be intriguing and/or bold but still say what you do.
So instead of this headline
“Sales Manager at Big Firm”
What about this?
“I Live for Sales and Have Helped Generate over $12 000 000 for Big Firm in the Last Year Alone!”
Remember that you need to adapt it to your target audience. If you are promoting your own business in the hopes of snagging a client, use a promotional headline.
“Completely Focused on Helping YOU Make More Money Online with the Latest Online Marketing Strategies That Work”
If you are hoping to find a new job, use words that would interest recruiters.
“Knowledgeable, Efficient and Highly Motivated Online Marketing Expert with Experience in SEO and Social Media Marketing”
Also, try to include keywords that people may be using while searching for someone like you.
In the spirit of being bold, you may also want to take a bit of a chance on being edgy or humorous, if you think you could get away with it.
2. Find a Fantastic Photo
I am not going to tell you that a picture says a thousand words (oops, I just did) but it does. The very first (or second) thing that a person looking at your LinkedIn profile will see is your photo. It goes without saying that it contributes a lot towards the initial impression that people have of you.
If you can, try to get a professional photo done by a proper photographer. It’s worth what you pay for the photo as you can use it on many sites online. It seems that most sites where you register, allow you to upload your image.
If you cannot get a professional photo done, you can ask a friend or family member to take one of you with a phone or camera. Make sure you are well dressed, neat and clean. Make sure you are well lit, with the light source behind the camera. Also, make sure that the background is plain. It’s best to just stand in front of a wall.
3. Personalize Connection Requests
Now that you have attended to your profile, you can set about making connections.
When you send a request to connect, it’s best to follow these guidelines;
Never, Ever Use the Default Connection Request Text
Make a point of writing your own message. Make it friendly and to the point. Don’t ramble or go on too long. Say what you need to say as quickly as possible.
Give a Reason
Make sure to say why you want to connect. To do this well, you need to search for something they have done or achieved. This will give you a reason to contact them. J.T. O’Donnell gives a list of great examples here.
The important thing is to be genuine and honest. Don’t try blowing sunshine up their “you-know-where”.
Some examples may include;
- I saw your video on elephant conservation posted on Youtube and thought I would reach out to say how thought-provoking it is. You must have some fascinating stories to tell about making it.
- I am busy with a large construction project and a search of experts with experience in the field turned up your name. I see that you were involved in executing the XYZ Building in New York. I thought that I would reach out to just say that was a fantastic achievement.
- I wanted to let you know that I found your article on “Sasquatch Photography Tips” fascinating.
Ask to Connect
End your message with something simple along the lines of
“Can we connect?” or “Would you like to connect?”
Include a “Signature”
Sign off the way you would an email or letter and include your name. Sure, the message will have your name attached to it, but it looks more professional when you add your name manually.
4. Go Deep Not Wide
Many people on LinkedIn love to tell everyone how many connections they have as if they are an achievement. However, it’s not how many they have, it’s the quality of the relationship that they have built up with each of those connections.
I am fairly certain that anyone with more than a hundred or two connections cannot say that they know much about their connections.
The point is that you must build deep, meaningful relationships. These are the only connections that really count.
Sure, you may be able to get some feedback or a referral from your superficial connections, but when push-comes-to-shove they won’t be there for you unless there is something in it for them. This isn’t to say they are bad. We’re all like that. We will only go the extra mile for those we have a good, solid relationship with.
So, focus on building deeper, more meaningful relationships with those connections that inspire and challenge you – and who you enjoy talking to and being around.
5. Get Active
Groups are a great place to interact with others on LinkedIn. However, choose your groups wisely. Make sure they are active and have large memberships. Make a point of visiting regularly and contribute whenever you can.
Interacting in groups gives you a great opportunity to find like-minded people who you can reach out to with a connection request. If they have seen you in the group, they may recognize you from your interactions there.
LinkedIn has become a popular and important place to publish articles. With such a large audience of business people, writing insightful and informative articles can go a long way towards establishing you as an expert in your field.
However, be sure to follow the writing tips you can find here on how to write effectively for the Internet.
I usually tweak the articles I write for my blog and post them on LinkedIn (as well as other online platforms). Doing this helps you get your name out there and it helps with name recognition as well as with your content marketing strategy.
7. Follow Up
Contacting people on LinkedIn is a good start. But that’s all it is. Use good networking practices thereafter to nurture the relationships that you think have value for you.
Take a look at this article for ideas on how to capitalize on the connections you make on LinkedIn.
Take the time to apply the tips above and take advantage of one of the more powerful networking platforms available. Your network can be extremely valuable if it is carefully cultivated and pruned.
Don’t be in a rush and don’t settle for sub-standard connections but if you are not visiting LinkdIn regularly, then perhaps you should be.