In the first of a three-part series, Dionne Kasian-Lew explains how to build rapport with your LinkedIn network before you start spruiking your services.
LinkedIn is a professional network of nearly 300 million people from 200 countries, available in 20 different languages.
It’s the new business lunch. Only because of the extent of its reach, it’s ‘lunch gone global’ and offers great opportunity for professional development and business growth by bringing people with mutual interests together.
You meet people who share your interests, form connections and where synergies exist, extend the connection into the future.
You wouldn’t turn up to an event, walk up to a stranger, hand them a package and say: this week I will sell you our product at 20% off!
Sounds crazy, right?
Yet that is what some people are doing with email on LinkedIn. Not only is it sure to trigger the automatic ‘delete’ signal in whoever opens it, over time it also makes people wary of being approached.
Used well, LinkedIn can help you to expand your existing networks and bring together people with mutually beneficial aims.
A common question people ask in relation to growing their contacts is: how do you write the kind of email introduction that someone will read or accept?
That answer begins long before you write it.
Before you write
No matter how keen you are to dive in and offer your services, you need to spend time on the platform building your profile and reputation and demonstrating that, with respect to your service, you walk your talk.
1. Publish your own content on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. This gives you the opportunity for thought leadership and allows people to evaluate the quality of your thinking. They may reach out to you.
Action: Publish high quality, original content. Go to your home page, click the pen icon and follow the prompts.
2. Curate great content on your network from other people. Thoughtful summaries or incisive questions say a lot about you as a person.
Action: Write a brief summary of an article and post it on your status update with a link to the article.
3. Read and comment on other people’s content and engage them directly by letting them know you are talking about them.
Action: In the comments section after a post, type the full name of the person you want to alert. LinkedIn will provide a prompt that links to their name. Click on it and it will alert them.
4. Join relevant groups. The great thing about groups is that you can get to know people without having a direct connection. Over time you can then reach out to those people to bring them into your direct network. However, a word of caution – some groups are better than others. Some are little more than people posting links to their own content. Others are vibrant, helpful communities with great information. It requires a bit of trial and error.
Action: Participate in groups with those who share your interests, are in your industry or are the kinds of people with whom you want to work.
Now that you’ve created a solid professional presence that speaks for itself you are in a position to reach out. Find out how in the next part of this series.
This is the first in a three-part series about using LinkedIn to increase the reach of your business.
Dionne Kasian-Lew is the CEO of the Social Executive®, an advisor to boards and senior executives on digital and social media rated in the top 1% for global community influence by Kred. Her latest book The Social Executive – Why Leaders Need Social Media and How It’s Good For Business (Wiley) is now available.