Many of my friends are successful business owners and CEOs who know the importance of relationships and networking. But these friends tend to look at me with quizzical smiles when I rave about LinkedIn. They just don’t get why I’m so obsessed with it.
So what’s behind the resistance to LinkedIn? For most business owners, it’s the fear of poaching: they’re nervous about staff using their LinkedIn online CV as bait for recruiters and head-hunters. My counter-argument to this is that staff will always be approached by recruiters (LinkedIn is just another way that they do this).
You need to park the idea of losing employees through LinkedIn and think about how you can use it to gain new clients.
Like most business owners, I’m time-poor and need a return on any time investment I make. For me, LinkedIn pays.
Here are four tried-and-tested tips that work for me.
- Check out the “who’s viewed your profile” feature. If you are already connected with someone in the list, wait until the following day and give them a call to say hello. People will often check out your profile because they may have something they think you are suitable for, but then get distracted by something of more immediate importance and just forget to follow up. When you put a call in, make sure it’s just to say hello and see how things are. They’ll usually be happy to hear from you. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard people say, “That’s funny, I was just thinking about you yesterday…”
- If there’s someone in the “who’s viewed your profile” to whom you’re not already connected, check out their profile and do some research on them (I always use Google as a start). If you’re pretty certain you have something they might need, request a connection and state exactly why you want to connect and what you have for them. This works incredibly well. I know one business owner who made £28,000 extra income from following this simple nugget of advice.
- When you first set up a LinkedIn account, you automatically get a membership web page address, which LinkedIn calls your “Public Profile”. You need to customise this (for example, mine is http://uk.linkedin.com/in/robwilmot). Then you should include it on your business card and in your email signatures. When I hold seminars on LinkedIn, I always ask the audience to put their hands up if they have a fax number on their card. I can guarantee that 95 per cent of the room will put their hands up. I then ask how many of them have received a fax in the past six months. No-one has ever put their hand up. My argument here is that you’re more likely to do some business by having your LinkedIn Personal Profile address on your card than by including your fax number. Obvious when it’s spelt out for you, isn’t it?
- Use the LinkedIn introductions tool. This is the most powerful feature on LinkedIn. So how does this work? I have 735 direct connections on LinkedIn and these appear with the number “1” against their profile. LinkedIn enables me to ask these connections for an introduction to someone in their connections – LinkedIn assigns the number “2” against these. And I can even go as far as asking for an introduction to one of their connections – those with the number “3” against them. By using this method, I can reach nearly eight million professionals through my 735 immediate LinkedIn connections. I get a lot of success from using this tool. Why? Because when I ask for an introduction via one of my connections and they pass it on, they are effectively endorsing me. It’s just like a letter of introduction from the good old days.
Share your thoughts (and LinkedIn tips) in the comments box below.
Rob Wilmot was co-director of Freeserve back in 1998 – and exited the company after the completion of a £1.6bn sale to Wanadoo in 2001. Since then, he’s invested in a range of tech and media companies – the latest being bcsAgency. Read his profile here.
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