Social networking – it’s about being social. You may have heard that before and for good reason. According to Websters II New Riverside Dictionary, the definition of social is:
1. Living in communities or groups. 2. Of or relating to the life and interrelationships of human beings in society. 3. Marked by friendly companionship with others.
These are three things you do everyday offline. Now, just transfer your social skills to LinkedIn® and do the same thing online!
Each time I deliver a presentation on the topic of LinkedIn there are attendees who raise their hands, express their confusion and ask how to use the network . . . how to have those conversations that build relationships. Below you’ll find a few pointers I give them in response to their questions.
Here are three simple steps for engagement that help you get the ball rolling. . .
#1. Start a conversation as soon as you reach out to connect.
The biggest mistake people make on LinkedIn is clicking on “Connect” and sending out a generic LinkedIn invitation, which reads, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
If you want to be social, if you want to make the most of your LinkedIn experience, then take the extra moment to personalize your invitation.
The best way to do this is to visit a person’s profile and click the “Connect” button from there. That’s when LinkedIn opens up a dialog box that gives you the opportunity to write a personal message. It’s a great way to start the conversation and begin building relationships. After all, that’s what social networking is all about.
#2. Don’t ignore an invitation.
How many invitations have you received in you inbox where the person used LinkedIn’s generic invitation? You didn’t know who they were or why they were sending you the invite. So, you ignored it or deleted it. However, by doing so you may have missed an opportunity to connect with a potential prospect, referral or resource.
Rather than ignore the invitation, go view that person’s profile. See if he/she might be someone worth beginning a mutually beneficial relationship with. If so, go back to the invitation section (in your LinkedIn Inbox) and instead of hitting “Accept,” run your mouse over the “Accept” button and you’ll see “Reply, but don’t accept.”
Choose that option and send the person a message thanking them for their invite. Ask them how they connected with you. Perhaps someone referred them to you or maybe they were simply searching LinkedIn for someone with your expertise. You’ll never know unless you send them a message – sure and sweet – and begin a conversation. As in point #1, it’s a great opportunity to start building a relationship.
#3. Thank people for endorsing your skills.
You’ve received an endorsement. You look at it and wonder, “Why did this person endorse me for that?” I hear this many times when I speak on the topic of LinkedIn. Here’s what I recommend. . .
Rather than questioning or ignoring the endorsement, reach out to the person who endorsed you. Send them a message thanking them for their endorsement. You don’t need to say “I don’t want to be endorsed for that,” but what you can say is, “Thanks for taking the time to endorse me. Other skills which I welcome endorsements for include. . . ”
In addition, what I add to the message is the invitation to reciprocate. I ask that person what skills he/she would like to receive endorsements for.
Do you see a pattern here? Each option above is a simple way to reach out to someone . . . have conversations . . . begin building relationships.
It’s Time to Get Engaged On LinkedIn
LinkedIn is like joining a Chamber of Commerce or a trade organization. The best return on your investment (i.e., time, not just money) is when you do more than simply pay your dues. It’s about getting involved in the community.
The same holds true for LinkedIn.
Don’t put up a profile and wait for people to “bang down your door.” Get involved and ENGAGED! These are just 3 ways to start doing that.
Why not begin today? If we’re not already connected on LinkedIn, start with Pointer #1 and send me a personalized invitation to connect. You’ll find me at http://linkedin.com/in/debrajason
Have you taken the time to create engagement on LinkedIn? Share your thoughts in the comment section below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks and here’s to your sweet success.