Posted by: waynebreitbarth | August 14, 2011

LinkedIn + Networking: A Match Made in Heaven



LinkedIn just announced that they have gone over 120 million members. With each of these announcements the site gets that much more useful for all of us, regardless of whether we are using LinkedIn for researching, networking, or marketing — the three main purposes of the site.


Recently I have focused on LinkedIn’s powerful ability to do research on people and companies and find the people we would like to meet. 


This week’s tip will concentrate on one of the other great uses for LinkedIn, and that is networking. I will focus on increasing your exposure and relevance with those newfound people as well as the development of a specific LinkedIn strategy revolving around networking. 


I just love Keith Ferrazzi’s definition of networking from his book “Never Eat Alone.” He says that “real networking is about finding ways to make other people more successful. It is about working hard to give more than you get.”


It was just a few years ago when I really got very purposeful about networking to help grow my business. networkginWhat I thought that meant was making sure that I got out on a consistent basis to meet new people in the marketplace in hopes of selling them office furniture.  


I quickly realized real networking is just one of the steps along the road (sometimes a long road) to making a sale. It starts with building a relationship founded on the principles of helping and giving, just like Keith said. 


What you help with or give can be anything that you have experience, knowledge, and solutions for either based on your personal or business life. It can range from as simple as “How did you help your kids pick out the college they went to?” to “When does it make the most sense to have moveable walls and a raised floor in my new building?” 


What it boils down to is you have lots of great experiences and relationships, and your job is figuring out how you can help someone else’s pain point by what you know and who you know. 


Here is a checklist of some of the unique features available on LinkedIn that you can use to purposefully develop specific action steps for your networking strategy. I recommend you use this checklist as a part of your planning process for setting your goals.



                       Checklist for Executing Your LinkedIn Networking Strategy 


  • Share helpful downloadable information on your profile. Things like white papers, how to’s, checklists, research studies, and other documents like this are what your audience would appreciate your having available for their downloading 24/7. You can place these documents on your profile using any of the following applications: files, SlideShare or Google Presentation. Consider referencing these documents in your Summary section to highlight where they are and what they can help them with.


  • Use one of your three websites (hyperlinks) to send people to a website that gives them the ability to sign up for something or share information. Be sure to use descriptive words to describe that hyperlink. Consider referencing these websites in your Summary section to highlight where they are and how they can be helpful.


  • You can use the Status Update on your home page to share information, websites, events, articles and other helpful information. This is what I consider the home run of LinkedIn. A function similar to this is what has made Twitter all the rage. With that in mind, why are so many people not taking advantage of this? Probably because they haven’t formulated a strategy for using this important tool on LinkedIn. If you consider this your daily helping voice for your network and consistently look for things to share that will bring value to people in your network, you will get more comments, questions, referrals, and thank you’s than you know what to do with.


  • Groups are a way to share information to a targeted set of LinkedIn users either by posting a discussion or a news article. The exposure you get by doing this usually goes well beyond your intended audience, which can only be a good thing. Also, consider commenting on the discussions of other people if you have some additional helpful information to add to the discussion.


  • One of the functions in the Events application is to share events that you have organized or plan to attend. This is easy to do by simply using the “Share” button on the bottom page of the event details.


  • Tell your connections about groups you think they should consider joining. You can do this by using the “Forward” function when you are on the profile screen of the group you want to recommend. You will then be prompted to grab the names of your connections that you think would benefit from being a member of this group.


  • After you have read a book that you think will help others in your network, use the Reading List by Amazon application to post a review of your thoughts on this book. Once you do that, a network update will appear on the home pages of your connections, and it will also appear on your profile for all to see.


  • Write a recommendation for a person that is very specific in describing accomplishments and has keywords that will be important to your connection.


  • Think about which of your connections should meet each other. To do this, you must be very proactive in thinking about your friends and making introductions that could benefit both of them. This step can be simplified by first sorting your connections by industry and then thinking about people in similar or related industries who should know each other. This type of introduction is the ultimate networking step and will really be appreciated by the two parties as their relationships grow and prosper. Try this. I think you will find it worth the effort. You can use the “Forward this profile to a connection” function to start the introduction process. You will find this at the top right of the profile page.


  • Be sure to periodically review the connections of your first-degree connections that you consider “super networkers” for people that you would like to meet, especially those in your industry or related industries. This being said, don’t forget to get outside of your industry from time to time, with a step like this, in order to add diversity to your network. This is a point we all often overlook.




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