With nearly 260 million active monthly users, LinkedIn is one of the world’s largest social networks, and easily the largest for business. But with so many people on board, LinkedIn interactions can quickly turn into networking on steroids. We end up keeping in touch with people we’ve barely met at conferences or can’t remember from our high school classrooms. At the same time, we end up ignoring the real business prospects that the site was built to nurture.
Like its size, LinkedIn’s potential is unprecedented. Nearly a third of its users log onto the site daily, which makes LinkedIn a great place to update and check in with your networks. Knowing how to parse through the noise, though, is a key tool in making the most of the site’s offering on your daily visits.
Use these strategies to leverage LinkedIn for finding and building business relationships.
1. LinkedIn Groups
Track and join LinkedIn groups related to your target industry. The number one rule of networking is to give more than you ask for. Groups make this simple and seamless, since they allow you to participate in discussion threads to help other LinkedIn members. To find the best ones, target groups with more than 50 members and that have a recent activity history (i.e. others have posted to the group within the last week.) Set a goal of posting to groups a certain number of times a month, and see what happens when you showcase your expertise in this way.
2. Who’s Viewed Your Profile
Approaching a new contact who has been looking at your profile page is the equivalent of pursuing a qualified lead. Check the “Who’s Viewed your Profile” section of your dashboard to see if anyone new appears on the list. Then take a look at 3 things for each new person:
- Their profile page
- Their company page
- Who has viewed their profile
You can derive a wealth of information about whether the person is a good fit for your network from this research. For example, it’ll be apparent that the person is in the market for your product if they’ve also searched through your competitors’ profiles. You can then ask to connect with them from that perspective.
3. Keyword Profile Views
LinkedIn’s Who’s Viewed Your Profile section tells you the keywords that have led people to your profile. Most often, these words are searches on your name or industry. If the keywords don’t look right to you, you can shape or edit your personal profile based on the keyword information you receive from LinkedIn. Similarly, if your company is changing direction or pushing a particular department or campaign, consider altering your summary or bio to reflect the new verbiage and appear in more relevant LinkedIn searches.
LinkedIn prompts you to congratulate colleagues and clients for their work anniversaries or birthdays. Do it. It’s an easy way to show good will and keeps you top of mind with people. It can be done in seconds from the LinkedIn app on your phone or mobile device, and is appreciated and noted by your target contact.
5. Connection Requests
While LinkedIn makes it very easy to connect with your contacts, it sometimes makes it too easy for strangers or open networkers to build up their numbers. To ensure that you’re nurturing a real network (and not one full of spammers), never accept a connection request from someone who hasn’t written a personal message into the email. If the person heard you speak somewhere, but isn’t personally known to you, let them know that you won’t accept until you’ve had a live conversation with them. This is a great excuse to get on the phone with someone new and expand your network while ensuring its integrity at the same time.