Tag Archives: social media for law firms

5 ways to use LinkedIn for lead identification

by Kirsten Hodgson

How can you use LinkedIn to find those people you wish to engage?

Over the past two years LinkedIn has grown exponentially. In June 2010 LinkedIn had 70 million members. In March 2012 there were 150 million members. By September 2012 the number had grown to 175 million.

While two years ago more of my contacts were not on LinkedIn than were, that’s completely changed and you’re much harder pressed nowadays to find business people who don’t have an account.

LinkedIn and other social media are turning the traditional business development process on its head. Whereas in the past you’d meet someone and add them as a LinkedIn connection, now the opportunity is there to ‘meet’ and start to build relationships with people on LinkedIn and then move these beyond the platform.

4 ways to use LinkedIn to find those to whom you wish to connect

1. Perform an Advanced Search:

LinkedIn’s Advanced Search function allows you to search by a range of criteria including keywords, job title, company name, industry sector, country (and, in some jurisdictions, postcode) so it’s a great way to find those you wish to build a relationship with.

LinkedIn’s free account does limit you to seeing 100 search results and you can only see names of those in your network (i.e. your 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections) as well as those who share a Group with you. In order to benefit from the Advanced Search feature you need a critical mass of connections. However, there is a way around this without rapidly increasing your number of connections and without upgrading to the paid account – and that is using search engines such as Google to search LinkedIn (but that’s a post for another week).

Once you’ve performed the search you can begin to follow those you wish to, join the same groups and seek to engage them there, or invite them to connect with you – letting them know why they should do so. What value will they get from connecting with you?

To access the Advanced Search feature click on the word ‘Advanced’ next to the people search on the top right of your LinkedIn toolbar.

2. Search the Groups Directory:

Type in keywords or names of industry sectors you’d expect those you want to build a relationship with to join. Have a look through the results. Typically groups will be listed in order of size with the largest membership first. You can take a look at groups which may be relevant, see who in your network is a member, view group discussions (if the group is open), look through group statistics and determine if it’s for you.

If it is, then join. Take a look at the types of discussions that get the most traction and emulate. In some groups posting links works well whereas in others it’s better to keep all content within the discussion thread. Comment on other people’s discussions where you can.

If you identify people you wish to connect with you can take a look at their profiles, see which groups they’re members of and join the same groups.

You’ll find the Groups Directory under the ‘Groups’ tab on the LinkedIn toolbar.

3. Search LinkedIn SigNAL

Signal makes it easier for you to quickly find the information you’re looking for. You can use it to search for keywords or types of information. The beauty of it is that it allows you to see posts from across the LinkedIn network – not just those in your network – so you can quickly find people who share similar interests or who are actively looking for help in an area in which you can assist.

You’ll find Signal under the ‘News’ tab on your LinkedIn toolbar.

4. Search LinkedIn Answers:

The Answers section is a great place to showcase your expertise by answering relevant questions. Doing so will enable you to build relationships one by one. If someone you want to connect with asks a question, answer it.

‘Answers’ is accessible via the ‘More’ tab on your LinkedIn toolbar.

5. Search LinkedIn Events:

Monitor events in your town and area(s) of expertise and sign-up where appropriate. You could organise to meet others who have signed up via LinkedIn prior to the event, thus maximising networking opportunities on the day.

You may also wish to post your own events so others on LinkedIn can register – don’t forget to promote these through relevant groups and your status updates (as well as on your website and via other communications channels).

LinkedIn is a great tool to identify and begin to build relationships with those you wish to. If you approach people with common-sense and focus on them and their needs, you can begin to build some good relationships that you can then move beyond LinkedIn.

How else have you used LinkedIn to find your target audience?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles @freedigitalphotos

LinkedIn: A powerful market research tool

by Kirsten Hodgson

Much has been written about LinkedIn as a lead identification and lead generation tool, and rightly so.

But it’s so much more than that.

It’s also a powerful research tool for those looking to develop new products or services or who wish to enter new markets.

One of my contacts, Zivana Anderson, found LinkedIn to be hugely beneficial when researching the market need for a new product for one of her clients.

After finding out the target market for the product, she used LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature to identify those she wanted to talk to. She then sent an ‘expertise request’ to the people she wished to meet. They were all senior Heads of Department at major national and global corporations. 70% of those asked accepted her request.

They were all very generous and helpful with their time and spent much longer with her than she’d envisaged. As a result of her work, her client was able to establish the market need and had a clear line of communication with would be buyers.

Zivana’s advice to others seeking meetings with busy, senior professionals via LinkedIn:

1. Ensure your profile is complete and positions you well. It needs to lend credibility to your request and show that you are a professional.

2. When contacting the other person be really clear about what you’re doing and why, how long you want to meet for and the things you wish to find out. Be polite.

3. Don’t suggest a specific time. Say ‘at a time convenient to you’ so that you can get the person’s approval in principle.

4. Join a group that the other person belongs to so that you have the ability to email them using the free LinkedIn account.

This could be a great way to use LinkedIn if you’re looking to build profile in a particular industry sector or want to penetrate a new market. By emulating Zivana’s approach, you too could get in front of senior, hard to reach, decision makers.

Have you used LinkedIn as a research tool? How’s it helped you?

 

How to stand above the crowd on LinkedIn: 3 great actions

by Kirsten Hodgson

With more than 175 million members as of September 2012 (source: Wikipedia), standing out from the crowd on LinkedIn is important if you want to position yourself as an expert in your field.

The following three actions will help you to do this.  By adding value to your relationships you will be remembered and more likely to create long-term and interactive connections.

In terms of offline networking, the actions below are similar to meeting someone at a conference and making an off-hand remark about a case you are interested in.  A few weeks later you receive an article about that case along with a note saying how nice it was to meet you. How would this make you feel about that person?

Action 1: Each month introduce two of your LinkedIn connections who’d benefit from meeting one another.

I use LinkedIn’s messages to do this. When writing your message, make sure you let them know the reason for the introduction (e.g. targeting similar clients, offering complementary services), a brief summary of how you know each person and their skill-sets. Make sure you keep a note of introductions you’ve made so that you can follow up and see if the people connected/met down the track.

Action 2: When you come across an article that will be of interest to one or more of your LinkedIn connections, share it with them directly using LinkedIn email.

Let them know why you think it will be of interest to them and why they should read it. This may be something you or a third party has written. For example, if there is an upcoming legislative change you may want to give certain people a heads up…even if you don’t know much more at this stage, the fact that you’re the person bringing it to their attention means they are more likely to think of you if and when they need some help. This shows the other person that you are thinking of them and their needs and helps to position you as someone who understands their business/industry.

Action 3: After accepting someone’s invitation to connect on LinkedIn ALWAYS  send them a follow up message thanking them for their invite.

This simple step invites people to continue the conversation should they wish to do so. I do this routinely and, as a result, had two prospective clients (with who I had no prior relationship) email me back to request a meeting to see if I could help them within a two-week timeframe. They have both, subsequently, become clients.

These three actions are simple to implement but can have a huge impact on you and on the others involved.

Action: Put the above three actions as recurring tasks in your calendar or social media action plan.  Then monitor what happens.

In the words of C.G. Watson “Every action triggers a reaction.” Try to make your connections react positively to yours.

Which LinkedIn actions do you recommend or appreciate?

Image courtesy digitalart via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Social media, the Hare and the Tortoise

by Kirsten Hodgson

I love Aesop’s fables – they all have a great moral and I enjoy reading many of them to my kids (particularly after they’ve done something naughty).

The Hare and the Tortoise could have been written about social media. When the tortoise challenges the hare to a race, the hare soon leaves the tortoise behind. However, so confident is he that he’ll win, he takes a nap halfway through the race only to awake to find the tortoise has crawled past him and beaten him over the finish line.

What does this have to do with social media?

Everything.

Social media is more like a marathon than a sprint. You have to be clear about what you’re looking to achieve and be in it for the long haul. Social media puts another set of tools at your disposal. If you start off with a bang only to give up after a few weeks/months, you’ll be overtaken by others.

3 ‘hare activities’ to avoid on social media

1. Setting up profiles on multiple platforms and then doing nothing with them:

Be focused in your efforts. Identify the platform(s) that are best going to help you to build relationships with those you want to and focus on those. When these are working well for you, you can branch out. The danger of being active on too many platforms is it’s very hard to keep the information up to date.

When setting up profiles, it’s important that these position you well. Social profiles tend to rank highly in search engine results. If you don’t believe me, log out of Google and then search your (and your firm’s) name. While your website is likely to come back near the top so too are your social media profiles.

The top two ways people hire lawyers (I have no doubt this is similar for other professional services advisers) according to some BTI research is peer to peer referrals and online search. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Asking others in your network who they recommend in a particular area is a logical starting point. However, they may get two or three names. So, what happens next? They are often not ready to call you but instead perform an online search. Ensuring your profiles clearly position you is one way to tip the level playing field in your favour before someone’s met you.

If you decide that you don’t wish to be active on a network, remove your profile. A skeletal one isn’t going to benefit anyone.

2. Amassing followers, friends or contacts quickly without actually building a relationship: 

Social is about people and people build relationships with other people. I do understand the argument that you need a wide network to amplify your messages and it’s true that a wider network helps you see better quality search information on LinkedIn, but as professionals we’re selling ourselves and we need to build credibility and trust.

The best way to do that is to build relationships with others one by one. Showing a genuine interest in others, having conversations, sharing their content and asking them questions all helps to build a rapport.

Once you’re on people’s radars and they’ve had some sort of interaction with you, they’re much more likely to read and share your content and to refer you to others.

If you are looking for more work, a targeted always beats a scattergun approach so prioritise who you want to build relationships with and aim to have at least one interaction per week with one of these people.

3. Underestimating your competition: 

I spoke to partners in a professional services firm a while ago who were taken aback that another professional had built a strong reputation in a certain area. Their view was that the person wasn’t as ‘technically sound’ as they are.

However, the other person was doing a great job demonstrating their knowledge in their field, was building relationships and was getting work.

The professionals I spoke to may believe they’re better but what they think doesn’t matter. It’s what prospective clients think. The vast majority of work doesn’t need the ‘best’ brains. It requires someone competent  - and there are lots of competent people out there so you need to distinguish yourself. 

Don’t underestimate your competition. Social media has made it much easier for those without the support of a large firm behind them to market themselves. If you’re not using these channels to help others and build relationships, others are. 

Summary and actions:

  • Be focused and targeted in your approach to social media. Choose the social media network that best suits you and those you want to connect with.  
  • Ensure that your social profiles position you well. Set up an honest, up to date profile that explains who you help, what you help them with and who you are.
  • Seek to build relationships with others one by one and focus on helping the other person with no expectation of them doing the same for you. Using the search function within a network (e.g. the Advanced Search function within LinkedIn), identify three people you would like to connect with. Look to see what content they are sharing, where they are sharing it, who with and what they are responding to.Engage in conversations they are having online. 
    1. Compliment or thank them for an article they shared.
    2. Join a conversation they are having.
    3. Ask them to connect with you.
  • Don’t underestimate your competition. Social media levels the playing field and makes it much easier for those who are active on these channels to compete. Just be prepared for them to overtake you if you get caught out napping.

What other examples of ‘hare’ behaviour have you seen? 

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Can professionals get business from Facebook?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Jay Pinkert wrote a great post a few weeks ago titled ‘It’s time for Legal Marketers to put Facebook away’

He says legal marketers should:

“take a pragmatic, unsentimental and non-magical thinking look at their Facebook activities and make a tough decision on whether to continue the quixotic pursuit of the unicorn called Facebook marketing success.”

I have to admit, I’m not aware of any professional services firms that have generated work from Facebook via their company pages, although there are a couple that have built a community by connecting with people at a personal level.

And, of course, there are several that have assisted with graduate recruitment.

But are company Facebook pages a good lead generation tool?

I don’t believe so (but I’d love to be proved wrong!)

However, reaching out to people from your personal Facebook account can be.

I know an accountant in New Zealand who brings in between $20,000-$30,000 of new business each year from Facebook. He joined Facebook groups where property investors congregated, had conversations and shared information valuable to them. As a result a number asked him to connect with them and he began receiving work.

And there’s a lawyer who’s started to get relationship property and divorce work via her network as a result of asking questions and sharing articles those either entering or exiting a relationship will be interested in.

A number of her Facebook friends are at this stage in their lives, or know someone who is. As a result they either respond to her posts or share them with others who do.

The boundary between our professional and personal lives is blurring

Many of us are not comfortable with the blurring of the boundary between our professional and personal lives.

But in this day and age, where there are so many competing businesses vying for attention, it is easy for company pages to get lost. I don’t know about you but, even if I like a page I tend to gloss over any content that appears on my wall.

However, I read my friends’ posts much more carefully. If they were to post something that could help me or another of my friends, I’d definitely get in touch.

So, maybe that’s the way to go.

Perhaps we should do away with professional service firms Facebook pages that have been set up for lead generation and encourage those people in our teams comfortable doing so, to build relevant professional content into their personal streams.

It can yield results.

What’s your view?

Have you won any business via your firm’s Facebook page? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

LinkedIn tests its new skills endorsements product – what it is, and some profile changes you may want to make

by Kirsten Hodgson

A couple of weeks ago LinkedIn began to test its ‘skills endorsements’ product in New Zealand. Last Thursday the test was rolled out in Australia. It’s a great addition that will hopefully be rolled out more widely over time.

This post looks at what it is, why it’s so good and some changes you might want to make to your profile as a result of this.

What is the skills endorsements product?

This allows LinkedIn users to endorse the skills of other LinkedIn users. When someone endorses you a blue box pops up with the words ‘now its your turn. Endorse your connections’ and then suggests a skill for each of your connections. You can choose whether to endorse them. Alternatively you can go into an individual’s profile and endorse them for one, or several of their skills, there.

If you go to the skills section within a person’s profile you simply click the + button that appears next to any skill you wish to endorse and, bingo, your profile photo will appear beside it.

 

Why is it so good?

What I love about this product is it’s so easy and quick to use.

Angus Ogilvie, an accountant and tax specialist focused on SMEs, summed it up nicely when he said: “It is a time saver compared with typing up a recommendation although I would still do that if asked. It’s all good!”

I don’t think the endorsements product is a replacement for recommendations, but it does add to it. Reading recommendations and then seeing someone has been endorsed by people you know, respect or trust could be a pretty powerful combination.

What should you do as a result of this development?

The release of this product means you need to ensure you’ve added skills (and the correct ones) to your LinkedIn profile and that you have a profile photo if you wish to endorse someone else! Because it is a painless process to endorse someone, people are likely to do so. If you haven’t added skills to your profile, you may miss out.

You might also want to move the skills section of your profile higher. To do so, select ‘edit profile’ from the drop down box under the ‘Profile’ tab on your LinkedIn toolbar. Scroll down to the skills section. Hover over the heading, wait a couple of seconds until it turns blue, and then drag to the position in which you’d like it to appear.

The endorsements product is a great way to acknowledge the work of suppliers, peers and clients (if you are able to judge their capabilities in a particular area) and it gives you another way to stay top of mind with your LinkedIn connections.

However, I’d advise you use your common sense. Only endorse someone if you KNOW they have good skills in a particular area, otherwise people may begin to doubt your judgement in future!

What do you think of the LinkedIn endorsements feature?

Professional services marketing: Do you hear your clients’ voices online?

by Kirsten Hodgson


I had a great experience on Twitter this week and it got me thinking, how many professionals would even know if someone was tweeting or posting about them and/or their firm?

What happened was this. Nancy Myrland tweeted about Tweetdeck removing the endless scrolling in lists. I replied saying Hootsuite still allowed that and she responded that she wished they allowed people to display more lists. Within an hour someone from Hootsuite tweeted us this:

“Hi there! We’d appreciate your feedback in our feedback forum” with the link attached.

That one tweet showed they’re listening and looking at how they can improve. A visit to the forum highlighted they’re responding to people’s suggestions and keeping them informed as to progress they are making re. developments around these.

How many professional services firms could say the same?

If you’re not already listening for mentions of your name and your firm name, then you should get started.

Now.

Some simple and free tools you can use that will enable you to monitor most sites are Google Alerts, Social Mention and Hootsuite (you can set up streams to monitor mentions of your name or your firm name or anything else you wish to monitor).

If people do mention you, you can make a call about whether and, if so, how to respond.

You could create a great impression by doing so.

Or you could stick your head in the sand and people will think you don’t care.

You only get one chance to make people feel positive towards you.

Are you going to take it?

What other advice would you give to professionals about monitoring what’s being said online?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why professionals should never outsource social media engagement

by Kirsten Hodgson

Image courtesy of noheadlights via Flickr

Have you ever been a situation where you thought you were talking to one person…

…and then it turned out you were talking to someone entirely different?

Perhaps it was one of those phone calls where, half way through, it dawns on you that you got the wrong ‘Mel’

Or it’s not until someone says to you ‘you don’t know who I am, do you?’ that the penny drops.

You feel pretty awkward don’t you?

Why outsourcing conversations isn’t right

Then why is it that some professionals think it’s okay to outsource their conversations via social media?

I’d hate to think I was having a conversation with one person when the whole time I was talking to their social media person.

You can do that at a brand or firm level but it really doesn’t work at an individual level.

  • Because it’s inauthentic
  • Because it doesn’t sound like you
  • Because you’re not building rapport with the other person

If and when you meet them you will have no idea what discussions “you’ve”  had with them.

How do you think that will make you look?

And, if your social media person is posting things in your name and your existing clients are seeing this, do you think they won’t notice if the other person uses language that you typically wouldn’t?

What can you outsource?

Don’t get me wrong, it is okay to outsource some of your social media activity.

Like listening and monitoring or setting up your profile. In fact it can be really helpful to do so.

But engaging with others is the one thing that should NEVER be outsourced. After all, you might get your PA to set up a new business meeting but you wouldn’t get them to go to the meeting on your behalf.

You need to build relationships with others one by one to create the face-to-face opportunities.

Some ‘so called social media experts’ will try to sell you the whole package and, while it would be wonderful to sit back and do nothing while letting someone else take care of everything for you, what will that really achieve?

Generating work via social networks doesn’t just get handed to you on a silver platter.

You have to put in the effort to reap the rewards.

And therein lies the issue.

What’s your view?

Have you outsourced any of your social media activity? If so, what’s worked well and, conversely, what’s not worked so well? 

 

Professional services marketing & the used-car salesman approach to social media

by Kirsten Hodgson

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

I was going to blog about some ways to engage via social media this week, but a couple of things have happened that have made me realise there are a number of so called ‘social media experts’  out there who are behaving like used car salesmen.

I don’t think this is in the interests of professionals and could really damage their reputations.

Yes, social media is new. No, there isn’t a defined way to use the tools. We’re all learning and we’re all able to try new things and that’s the exciting part. These media allow two way communication and enable us to initiate relationships online that we can then take into the real world.

So, I simply don’t believe that the used-car salesman approach is sustainable nor in the interests of those in professional services (in particular).

The inspiration for this post came from Robert Caruso @fondalo who has been writing a series of great posts on this very topic. In light of what I’ve seen recently, his posts have really resonated with me.

What is used-car salesman behaviour?

Basically, this is when people you’ve never met nor come across before try to sell to you via social networks, WITHOUT trying to build a relationship first.

In the last week I’ve come across two such approaches and one other issue:

EXAMPLE 1

I got an automated ‘thanks for following me, now recommend me to someone who might need my help’ message on Twitter from someone I’d never met. When I checked, they weren’t sharing any valuable information in their field via their Twitter feed – so why would they think a stranger would recommend them?

Maybe I’m just over automated messages but if you want someone to recommend you, you have to demonstrate your value first.

Otherwise, why should anyone refer one of their contacts to you when they have no experience of you nor your work.

If you’re going to use automated messages please focus on the other person and say something like ‘thanks so much for the follow, look forward to reading and sharing your tweets’ and make sure it’s set up correctly (see the other issue below!) – you only get one chance at a first impression – it’s up to you how you wish to be perceived.

Better still, ditch the automated message and send a personal one to key people with whom you wish to connect. Start to build a:

R E L A T I O N S H I P

EXAMPLE 2

Being sold to on LinkedIn by someone I don’t know. Again, what’s in it for me? Had they sent me some useful content and allowed me to read more for myself it might have been a different story. I may have wanted to connect to them and to find out more (buying from them would still take a bit more time…)

THE OTHER ISSUE I CAME ACROSS

I also noticed that someone I knew was following me on Twitter so followed him back. Within the space of 20 mins I got 25 automated ‘thanks for following me messages’. Something had clearly gone wrong.

I let him know and then unfollowed him until he got it fixed. However, two days later he stopped following me – automatically adding people to try to build followers? Definitely (following almost 2,000 people with 200 followers). Automated tools can be helpful but you do need to build relationships.

More followers may mean better exposure. But not if they couldn’t care less what you’re sharing. In a professional setting, I think it’s better to take a slower approach to growing your following, whether using an automated tool or not.

Social media is NOT a silver bullet

I don’t blame the professionals themselves. I just think they’re getting some really bad advice from social media companies acting like used-car salesmen. Who wouldn’t want to believe that there’s a silver bullet and you can quickly attract new clients via social media?

The reality is what damage does attempting to sell to someone you don’t know do to your reputation? How many of those who’ve ignored you have told others? Is it really worth even trying?

What’s a better approach?

You can absolutely approach others you don’t know but do so trying to form a relationship, not an instant new client. This morning I read a great  post by Seth Godin in which he said:

Don’t try to convert strangers into customers. It’s ineffective and wasteful. Instead, focus on turning those momentary strangers into people eager to hear from you again and again.”

He’s hit the nail on the head and, as usual, put it way better than I ever could. If you are using social networks as lead generation tools you have to form a relationship with the other person first.

This could be by sending them information they’ll value, inviting them to an event that’s relevant to them, asking for their input into something – there are an infinite number of ways you can do this. Turn yourself into someone they want to follow because you share great information and make it easy for them to keep up to date with developments in a particular area.

The point is that acting like a used car salesman and putting the sale first isn’t going to be a successful way to go about things in the long term.

If you’re not positioning yourself by either producing relevant content or curating content (effectively doing people’s reading for them) then why the heck should someone hire you over someone else who has?

You may get a few meetings in the short term but you’ll have to work hard to convert them – the prospect won’t have been able to assess whether you know what you’re talking about in advance and may not feel a driving need for your offering.

And you may have put a lot of people off. Perhaps this isn’t so important in a larger market but certainly in a smaller one or in a niche industry, people talk. I’ve certainly told at least 5 or 6 other people about the poor things I’ve seen, mainly because I was with them when these things happened. That’s a dangerous position for a professional to be in.

If you build relationships first then, by the time you do meet to discuss how you can help, half the work’s been done for you and the work is yours to lose. I’d far rather spend the extra time up front to build relationships and credibility and to begin to build trust than focus on old-school selling.

Consultative selling has to be the way forwards.

What’s your view? 

Social media YES’s

  • Build relationships
  • Share relevant content that you, or others, have created
  • Ask questions and seek others’ opinions
Social media NO’s
  • Outsourcing engagement (other things you can outsource but not the conversation)
  • Sending automated responses to Twitter followers – make them relevant to the other person
  • Constantly selling (it’s tantamount to cold calling)
  • Treating social media purely as a numbers game
What behaviour have you seen in the social media sphere that hasn’t sat well with you? 

Conversely, what have you seen that’s been really good? 

 

 

Connecting with others on LinkedIn: why bother?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Connecting with others on LinkedIn: why bother?

You know why you’re on LinkedIn.

You’re happy with your profile.

It’s time to connect with others.

Why bother?

The LinkedIn free account limits you to seeing profile information for your first, second and third degree connections, plus those in your groups. You can get around this by using Google to x-ray into LinkedIn, but you will miss out on some of LinkedIn’s advanced search functionality. This is really useful for planning and research purposes.

4 key ways to connect with people you know

  1. Import your email contacts from your desktop or internet email system
  2. Use LinkedIn’s people search or advanced people search to find individuals
  3. Look through contacts of your connections to find those you know
  4. Browse LinkedIn’s people you may know feature (including your university and previous employers)

Connecting with second degree connections

Second-degree contacts are those connected with one or more of your contacts. If you identify someone you’d like to meet, view their profile to find out how they are connected to you. You could then ask your contact to introduce you, but think about why they should and why their contact would want to meet/connect with you. What’s in it for them?

Connecting with people you don’t know on LinkedIn

Should you even do so?

LinkedIn’s user agreement says no but results of a 2011 poll show lots of people do and thought is divided.

There may be very good reasons why you might want to connect with someone you haven’t met – for example a journalist or someone in your field who shares really good content. In fact, LinkedIn and other social networks are turning the traditional business development process on its head. Instead of meeting people and then connecting with them online, you can now meet and start to build relationships with others online before taking them into the real world.

I am happy to connect with those I haven’t met in person provided:

- they share similar interests

- or they share quality content

- or I’ve had a conversation with them (e.g. through a group discussion).

Ultimately, it’s your choice. If you do want to connect with someone you don’t know well, personalise the invite you send to them.

What should you do with your connections?

It depends on your goals, but LinkedIn is a great tool to keep in contact with your connections and to build relationships one by one. Simply connecting with people and then doing nothing is not going to help you grow your practice.

You might like to:

  • email one of your connections each week to share something that will be of interest to them or to set up a time to meet
  • connect two of your contacts every month who might benefit from meeting each other
  • like, comment on or share content that your connections are sharing that may be of interest to your other connections
  • share status updates your contacts will value

One of the strengths of LinkedIn is that you can see who in your network knows someone. If you’re looking at targeting CEOs in a particular industry sector then you can see which of them is on LinkedIn and who in your network knows them. This could really help with planning and prioritising targets.

When connecting, do what’s right for you and what will help you achieve your goals. Once you’ve connected with others, you’re ready to start engaging (phase 3 of my 5-phase process). I’ll cover some ways you can do this, next week.

What other tips would you share for connecting with others on LinkedIn? 

Image courtesy Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net