Linkedin is what I consider the unsung hero of social media. I’ve met business owners who push it aside because Linkedin users don’t appear to engage with one another as actively as folks on other social networks. There’s less tolerance for “noise” (i.e. status update after status update). There are less “likes”, comments and shares. I suspect that’s why so many people don’t put forth the effort to complete their Linkedin profiles; they don’t think anyone really notices or cares.
But don’t underestimate the potential of your Linkedin presence. Just because other people aren’t putting any time or energy into the network (Please don’t tell me you’ve still got the shadowy silhouette as your profile pic!), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You won’t realize any benefits if you ignore it. The only way to reap rewards from being there is to acknowledge and interact with other professionals on Linkedin.
Fortunately, most Linkedin users don’t expect – or appreciate – status updates at the frequency or pace anticipated on Facebook or Twitter. That means you can use the network effectively under far less performance pressure.
What’s been working really well for me is simple and not at all time-consuming. Whenever I receive or send an invitation to connect with someone on Linkedin, I take an extra step that most people don’t. After I review a new connection’s profile, I send the person a personal message to say “thank you” for connecting, and I reference something interesting about his/her profile or things that we have in common. When connections are local to me and there’s some synergy between our industries or professional positions, I invite them to meet me for coffee to learn more about each other’s businesses and capabilities.
That little extra step (which takes an entire 5 – 10 minutes of my time) has more often than not led to face-to-face meetings – some of which have turned into business opportunities right there on the spot! Even when the potential for a signed proposal doesn’t materialize immediately, the approach has led to business down the road with those connections – or through referrals that they’ve sent my way. Sure, sometimes nothing comes from the effort, but overall it’s been well worth my time. I wouldn’t continue to do it if it wasn’t!
It seems the intent to embrace the opportunity to get to know other professionals and their businesses one-on-one is the magic bullet when it comes to starting and building business relationships via Linkedin. Don’t make the mistake that so many others are making by dismissing the powerful potential of the professional network.
How attentive are you to your Linkedin presence? Please share your success stories and best practices with the network! Connect with me on LinkedIn!
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