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