You know what it’s like. You’ve had your LinkedIn profile for quite a few years and gathered an eclectic bunch of connections. But what should you be doing with them? Are they of any value?
Well that rather depends on what you want to achieve with you LinkedIn profile.
How did that profile come about in the first place?
Most people set up a LinkedIn profile because someone suggested they ought to have one. Often it’s because someone sent you an invitation to join LinkedIn because they tried to connect with you and couldn’t find you. Or maybe a colleague or recruitment advisor suggested it would be a good idea, especially if you are looking for a new job. Another reason might have been the person you met at a networking event who suggested you connect on LinkedIn. So you set up a profile, following the on-screen instructions adding each job, your school and university and any professional qualifications.
Then you made connections
Maybe you followed LinkedIn’s suggestion and added you e-mail contacts and automatically sent connection requests to them. Or perhaps you clicked connect on some of the people LinkedIn suggested you might know. Or maybe people saw you had joined and sent you connection requests. Whichever way it happened , the connections started to role in and before you know it, it’s a few years down the line and you’re into a 3-figure list of connections.
But that still doesn’t answer what you should do with your connections.
Well, the reasons you joined LinkedIn are the result of its biggest and most common uses:
- Finding or getting found for a new job
- Keeping in touch with former colleagues
- Keeping in touch with networking contacts.
But switched on business people are finding a powerful fourth use – to find and connect with their ideal client prospects, potential suppliers and future business partners. You see, the information that people put on to LinkedIn to satisfy the first three uses is just the information required to satisfy the fourth. And it’s all there in a closed and trusted network with a powerful search engine to help you sift and find those ideal targets.
So what do you want to use LinkedIn to achieve?
If it’s just to keep in touch with former colleagues and a few networking contacts, then you probably don’t need to do much with your connections. Maybe the odd update to your profile as your job role changes or evolves, plus the odd status update to let them know if anything interesting is going on. But frankly, you could do that on Facebook or through regular e-mails. The power of LinkedIn is lost on you.
But if you want to use LinkedIn for serious business purposes, whether that is finding a new job, filling a vacancy, or using LinkedIn to grow your business, then your connections are vital. But before you engage with your connections, think about this:
If someone were to ask you to connect with them what are you likely to do?
If it were me, I’d be looking at their profile to see if they are the sort of person I want to connect with. What could they bring to me or my business. What opportunities could the present. If their profile is thin, incomplete or wishy-washy I’d think twice. If they held themselves out as some sort of expert, but their profile didn’t support that, I’d think twice. If their profile was all about how great they are, rather than the great things they do for their clients, I’d think twice.
The need for a powerful personal profile
You see, your profile is your chance to showcase your expert authority. To demonstrate you skills and expertise. To show the huge benefits clients or employers can gain from working with you. So your profile needs to say all that before you engage with your connections to achieve your objectives with LinkedIn.
So once you have a powerful personal profile, and you know what you want to achieve with LinkedIn, then you can start to engage with your connections.
The engagement process
I am going to assume you are using LinkedIn for professional purposes and that any personal stuff with old colleagues or friends will be on a one-to-one basis. I would therefore recommend you keep your privacy settings open and include your contact details so you make it easy for you to be found.
What that means is that anything you post by way of updates, photos or pulse posts are going to be visible you all your connections. So all such messages need to be congruent with you, the image you want to portray of yourself and your business or career, and the objectives you have for using LinkedIn. If you have different segments to your community like I do, make sure it is obvious from the post or update which segment it applies to.
You should be keeping in regular contact with your connections. Use updates or posts to demonstrate your skills, knowledge and experience. Comment on other people’s updates. Join and contribute to relevant industry or interest groups. If you are using LinkedIn to develop your career it shows recruiters and potential employers you are engaged with your career. If you are looking to employ someone, it shows you potential candidates that are engaged. If you are using it for business development you are demonstrating your expert authority making you more attractive to potential clients, suppliers or partners.
Whatever you are using LinkedIn for, you should seek out potentially useful connections. Do you have a target employer or sector? Do you have a target client niche or even target client company. LinkedIn provides a powerful search capability for you to find people in these situations. You can also look at their profile and see which groups they are members of and seek to join and contribute to those groups yourself. That is a great way to develop a reason to connect with someone.
In summary, once you have decided what you want to achieve with LinkedIn, start the engagement process with your connections with that objective in mind. If you want more tips on how to connect with anyone in the world, sign up for my free guide of the same name by clicking on the link or the image.