Imagine yourself walking down the street, and passing someone you recently met at a conference or networking event. What do you do? I’m guessing you would smile and wave at them – maybe even pause for a quick chat. Now, imagine if that person didn’t return the wave, or even acknowledge your existence! You would probably feel a little snubbed and wonder why that person, who you had supposedly made a business connection with you, completely ignored you.
This scenario represents the impression you could be giving the connections within your LinkedIn network, right now. Just being on LinkedIn is not enough to get results. In fact being there and not participating can be held against you. I’m going to share five principles that will help you make connections build relationships and generate leads.
1. It’s Just Like Real Life
Your LinkedIn connections are real people. If you aren’t acknowledging them, then you are the one doing the snubbing, no less than if you ignored them in passing. Hitting the “Like” button on the content your connections have posted is equivalent to giving them an engaging smile and a wave. Contributing comments on their posts is like stopping for a brief, pleasant exchange on the street. These interactions help you build a strong, usable network that can be leveraged in your favor.
2. Add Value
After you’ve clicked the “Like” button and interacted with your connections, it’s time to add value. And by “add,” I mean sharing content. You can start by sharing their content with people in your network; to give them more exposure. Next, share content from thought leaders in your industry. If you have the time, take the opportunity to private message your connections, and start a conversation. Don’t look at this as a chance to sell! It’s a chance to build the relationship. Send your connections interesting articles they might enjoy or invitations to events, but avoid selling. Do be careful not to stay in the “social selling friend zone” too long though. Look for opportunities to have a live conversation or send them a link that gives them an opportunity to opt in to get some highly useful content.
3. It’s Not a Resume
Are you looking for a job? If so, you have a resume, send it through the proper channels. If you are not looking for a job, don’t let people think you are by having a profile that looks like a resume. Think of your LinkedIn profile as a free AD. Don’t waste space. Highlight the unique things about you that will compel readers to hire you, refer you, and connect you to their growing networks. Be creative and include content that shows them what you can do. Make sure your writing is clean, crisp, and clear so it will grab the attention of anyone looking at your profile. There is little worse than inviting potential connections to view your profile and then distracting them with punctuation errors or boring them with information they don’t care about. When your ideal customer finds your profile, what do you want them to know? What will get their attention and get them to connect?
4. Your Profile Does Matter
Your profile is their first impression and the basis for them to decide if they will connect with you. All of the information and details on your profile matter. Your profile helps people identify with you so they can get to know you, like you, and, eventually, trust you. If you make a good first impression they will connect with you and refer you to other connections within their networks. Use your profile to get them to know you, like you, and trust you. Fill out all the sections so they can read and find things they have in common with you.
Your LinkedIn profile picture is a critical part of their first impression. It needs to reflect your professional persona.
Keep these things in mind when you are selecting your profile picture:
- Have Good Lighting
- Avoid Distracting Backgrounds
- Wear Business Attire
Also, don’t forget to look up and smile! A smile on your friendly face is the first thing that will engage them.
5. It’s Social Media – Interact
Doing the first four will prevent you from making a bad impression, but if you want results, you have to interact. LinkedIn is just like real life, so when you connect with new people, take the opportunity to build a rapport with them by reading, commenting, and sharing their content. Send personal messages with your connection requests, and tell them who you are and why you would like to connect. Just like you have to set aside time to have lunch or go to a networking event, you need to schedule time specifically for your activity on LinkedIn. Use that time to keep in touch with your connections and follow thought leaders in your industry. Consistently engaging on LinkedIn, with people you know and would like to know you, will keep your personal brand in front of them. It will remind them to contact you when they need what you offer. It will give you opportunities that will lead to sales. It will give you your own network of real connections that will help it grow.
More LinkedIn Resources: