LinkedIn Active Use 3 of 4

The third active use of LinkedIn is to add value by contributing content. Think for a moment about how you might conduct yourself at a traditional networking event. You stand around talking with people. You start discussions and you contribute to discussions that others have started. You answer questions that others ask, and you ask questions that you look for others to answer. LinkedIn provides this same opportunity for its users.

If you go into any of the groups you have joined, you will see that there are usually numerous discussions going on. Jump in and add value.

This does NOT mean pitch yourself or your product. It means share an opinion or insight. Offer a solution to a problem. Share your experience as it relates to the discussion.

In networking (whether traditional or online), adding value in this manner is critical to keeping you on the minds of others. People want to associate with those who add value, as they cannot help knowing, liking and trusting you.

LinkedIn Active Use 2 of 4

Being Active on LinkedIn is key. However, what if you feel woefully behind? “I haven’t done anything on LinkedIn and I’m connected to so few people. What’s the point of doing anything now?”

When others have tons of connections, activity and traction, it’s easy to have that “I will never catch up” feeling. Do not despair. There is a quick and easy way to “catch up” on LinkedIn. 

The second active use of LinkedIn is to take advantage of groups. Social media is nothing more than a giant networking event. Imagine that within this continually-running and information rich event there are rooms off to the side, each filled with people who all have a common bond or interest. Some are involved in small business or a particular company. Others live near each other or went to the same college. Or maybe it’s just a similar interest, such as marketing, engineering or accounting.

For the most part, these groups are highly welcoming and interested in new members. Find a few groups that interest you and join. Can’t find a group you want to be part of? Create your own! Here are a couple neat things about groups.

First, once you join, you are able to submit invitations to connect with people within the group. Normally on LinkedIn you can only do this with those you already know somehow. This is a great way to increase your connections if you are just getting started.

Second, once in a group, you are able to directly communicate with all group members, even if you’re not yet “connected”. Normally on LinkedIn you are only permitted to communicate with the people you are directly connected to. So, this is another way to expand your network and be seen by many people who may want to connect with you.

So, joining or starting groups and then interacting within them is a powerful active use of social media. 

Social Media: What Can It Do For Me?

Social media is a tool to help you network but it is not a replacement for networking. It is best analogized as a giant, ongoing, searchable networking event. Great! But the $64,000 question is “What Can It Do For Me?”

First, social media is an effective means of networking THROUGH to people. You can meet attorneys, bankers and those associated with employment transition. In short, social media is a great way to find and work through strategic partners who can lead you to clients. It is not geared for selling. Again, remember, it is just like a networking event and you would not dream of overtly hawking goods or services there, so do not do it here.

Second, social media is a wonderful way to position yourself in the hearts and minds of others, especially if you are new to a profession. Many of the people who know you, know you as someone else. Even if you have been in a particular profession for a long time, your online network might not fully appreciate what it means. LinkedIn provides you a platform to brand yourself as a knowledgeable and committed person in your profession (someone to know, like and trust). It will not do this over night, but in time you can create an expert of yourself on LinkedIn.

Finally, and likely of most interest, social media is a great means of creating opportunity. Through it, you can connect with people that can lead you to clients. Through it, you can find events that can lead you to clients. Through it, you can get information that can connect you to clients. Through it, clients can become aware of you and connect with you directly. It will not provide a windfall immediately; some days will be better than others. But over time the opportunities will be there.

Social Media As Compared To Traditional Networking

Everyone has been to a networking event … Business After-Hours, Open House or Tradeshow … A gathering of people with the ability to interact with each other. Do you know what? That is what social media is, nothing more than a networking event. It is just another networking event, EXCEPT for some important differences.

First, your average networking event might have a few hundred people all from a local area. Social media, however, boast having millions of people participating (and likely 100s of thousands in your region) and they are scattered all over the world.

Second, most networking events operate on a particular day and time. If you happen to be busy during that day and time (say, Friday at 7:30 am), you are out of luck until the next event. With LinkedIn, however, this networking event is going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. During the big game you can participate in the event while you watch TV. If you can’t sleep, you can come online to the event. Even on Thanksgiving Day (or any other major holiday) you can be part of this continuously operating networking event.

Finally, when you walk into a networking event and see new faces, you cannot tell who is who. The guy in the suit could be a corporate executive or someone in transition. You just don’t know. If you are looking to network with attorneys, you generally find them via introduction or by trial and error. With social media (especially LinkedIn, in this instance), you can find the people you are looking for quickly and you can know a ton about them before you start to converse.

So approach social media as if it were just another networking event, but know that it also has the wonderful advantages of being worldwide and immense, continuously operating and rich with searchable information.

Networking Rx: Matt Ward – Care Packages (EPS 179)

Frank Agin, host of Networking Rx and founder of AmSpirit Business Connections, has a conversation with Matt Ward (speaker, author and consultant) about the concept of care packages. Learn more about Matt at https://breakthrough-champion.com/

http://networkingrx.libsyn.com/matt-ward-care-packages-eps-179

For more information on AmSpirit Business Connections and its franchise opportunity program, contact Frank Agin at frankagin@amspirit.com or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

Warning For Social Media Networking

Far too often, people figuratively chain themselves to their computer and clank away in LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter hoping to create business for themselves. While they may stumble onto some, it seldom reaches the level they hope for.

Know this… Social media (and especially LinkedIn) is not a sales machine… it is not an order-taking system…it is not an ATM. It is merely a tool that you can use to better network yourself … It is not a replacement for networking.

Think of it in terms of this analogy … We networked before we had phones. People worldwide and people in this country built vast and complex civilizations long before they had any sort of electronic telecommunications. They were able to network themselves … Word-of-mouth, couriers and carrier pigeons did the trick. Back in the day, people did business and associated with those they knew, they liked and they trusted.

When the telephone came along, it did not change the underlying aspects of networking. It just made it easier. But they still did business with those they knew, they liked and they trusted. The telephone was just a tool.

The same is true of social media (such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). It is just a tool. It is not networking. It is just a tool to make it easier to get to know people, determine if we like them, and then ultimately trust them.

Networking Rx: Fixing Broken Windows (EPS 178)

Frank Agin, host of Networking Rx and founder of AmSpirit Business Connections, relates the social science concept of broken windows to professional relationships and business networking.

http://networkingrx.libsyn.com/fixing-broken-windows-eps-178

For more information on AmSpirit Business Connections and its franchise opportunity program, contact Frank Agin at frankagin@amspirit.com or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

Networking Rx: Autonomous vs. Dependent Help Seeking (EPS 176)

Frank Agin, host of Networking Rx and founder of AmSpirit Business Connections, shares some insight on general types of requests as well as how and when they’re appropriate.

http://networkingrx.libsyn.com/autonomous-vs-dependent-help-seeking-eps-176

For more information on AmSpirit Business Connections and its franchise opportunity program, contact Frank Agin at frankagin@amspirit.com or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

Creating A Referral Machine 7 of 7

Congratulations! You’ve established relationships and empowered that network. Great! But remember there is no such thing as perpetual motion. Too often, people work hard to create a referral machine only to watch it break down because they erroneously assume that an empowered network will just keep kicking out referrals.

Think of it like pushing a car: You have to work really hard to get the car rolling. Once the car is rolling you only have to exert mild force to keep it moving. But don’t let it stop because then it is like starting all over.

Establishing relationships and empowering the network is the Herculean push to get things moving. The mild force to keep it all moving involves three things.

Ask: Continue to ask for referrals, including things your network might not see. Don’t get frustrated if they are not referring things that seem obvious to you. Remember, they don’t live in your world and don’t see it as you do. So ask!

 Can you introduce me to…?

 Could you connect me to speak at this event?

Would you keep your eyes open for…?

Appreciate: No matter what your network does for you, thank them. If a referral goes nowhere, thank them anyway. Why? The fact they are thinking of you is excuse enough to celebrate. Your referral machine is working!

Also, appreciation is a wonderful motivator. Dole it out and people will do whatever it takes to get more. Few people thank others. You will set yourself apart when you show your appreciation.

Clarify:  No matter how well you educate and empower, your network is going to get it wrong from time to time. They want to help you, but they are going to send you referrals that are, well, bad.

Don’t get frustrated. They want to help and they are trying. Reconnect with them and clarify your request. One small correction in how they perceive what a good referral for you is could spell the difference between continued bad referrals and a great new client.

Networking Rx: Smile Power (EPS 174)

Frank Agin, host of Networking Rx and founder of AmSpirit Business Connections, talks about the power and impact that smiling has on your networking presence.

http://networkingrx.libsyn.com/smile-power-eps-174

For more information on AmSpirit Business Connections and its franchise opportunity program, contact Frank Agin at frankagin@amspirit.com or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.