Everyone wants to be liked, right? That's why we constantly go back and check our Facebook or Instagram posts to see how many people gave us the thumbs up or commented. It's not much different in our career endeavors. But the approach you take to networking professionally through social media for business should be carefully thought out and planned in order to avoid being "that annoying guy (or woman)". Nothing's worse than accepting a connection only to get a big, long sales pitch in your inMail hours or days later. You feel a little "used" and I know I'm not alone based on the memes I've seen posted on LinkedIn about this very problem.
So if you can't blast out a message to your connections, what can you do to leverage the world's largest, and most up-to-date, collection of professionals? Here are a few ideas to try. You'll find that you can gain some good traction without grating on your connections' nerves.
GROW Your Connection List WITH NO OBLIGATIONS
When you add a new connection you don't want them to suddenly feel obligated to help you do your job. Try to grow your number of connections but do it in a way that makes them glad they accepted your request.
You probably have a set of connections that are pretty top-of-mind people you've worked with in the past few years and your closer friends.
Make sure you've really looked for people you know or have known over the years who you can connect with. This isn't Facebook, so don't worry about it being an intrusion of privacy or awkward if you don't know them well. LinkedIn has a completely different purpose: to help you network. And because of that you're not asking to peek into their personal lives. Don't overlook people like your old school mates, friends (whether current or from your past), acquaintances who would recognize your name, people you worked with, past clients and more.
Now, before you send them an inMail message, read the rest of this blog.
Join Groups and InteractBy now there's a group for just about anything you can think of. Consider joining groups that have a good number of members and are related to:
- Your college - there are often alumni groups.
- Your area of specialty - if you are a hospital administrator, join a group of others like yourself.
- Your local area
Once you're a member, interact with these groups. Comment on what other people are posting, like other people's posts, or start a conversation about something that is NOT self-serving. If you're selling EHR Software, everyone will see right through you if you post "So, what is your favorite EHR Software on the market?" They know you're going to end up talking about yourself.
Rather, post something that shows you're on top of the latest industry news related to EHR Software. Share an insightful article that you didn't write. At least at first, don't use the group to "sell, sell, sell". They'll tune you out.
Use Your Connection List for Introductions
As you research potential prospects it's logical to use LinkedIn to see if you know anyone at the targeted company. But look beyond first connections. You may be in a group with someone that now knows you by your input or you may have an old colleague who knows someone you're trying to reach. As long as you haven't bombarded them with a lot of sales pitches, they may be willing to make an introduction. Just ask! You only get so many inMail messages per month, you might consider saving them for this purpose rather than direct sales attempts.
Before your mutual connection is going to introduce you they're likely to look at your profile and the company you work for. Be sure you've updated your profile and that your company has a well-done LinkedIn Company Profile. You want the whole picture to represent you well. If your company doesn't have a profile page or it's not looking as good as it can, download our free eBook on How to Create the Perfect Linked In Company Page. There are even free templates to help you make a great looking image.