Have you ever wondered how to reach that key person in a company to pitch a proposal or maybe persuade to hire you? Emails and voice mails go unanswered, and you know theres got to be a better way.
I was looking for some guidance myself, so I interviewed a LinkedIn expert on the Social Media Yak radio show. Sonja Beekley, a fellow social media consultant, has educated thousands in her workshops on how to use LinkedIn. A LinkedIn user typically has a job and is looking for a better one, or has no job and is looking to get employed, or is conducting business and making relevant contacts.
LinkedIn is the fourth-biggest social medium, behind Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Yet many find LinkedIn to be as hard to figure out as Twitter and plink around on it before giving up. LinkedIn can do quite a bit for a persons professional branding efforts, so its worth some attention.
Beekley shared these tips for a successful LinkedIn strategy:
- Fill out your resume and update it regularly. Your resume is the heart of your LinkedIn presence. You can go into a fair amount of detail; the better resumes encapsulate experience then go into more detail farther down.
- Build up your contact list. Upload your email address book to LinkedIn and invite those people to become contacts (analogous to Facebook friends). First-level contacts are those who have accepted your invitation; second-level contacts are friends of these contacts, and so on. Although you can invite most LinkedIn users to become contacts, LinkedIn will make you state how you know them. You can get mutual first-level contacts to introduce you to a second-level contact such as that key business manager youve been trying to reach. Search LinkedIn for relevant names and comb the contact lists of your contacts for more leads.
- Get and give recommendations. Find people you used to work with or did business with, or even acquaintances from college or a seminar. When you give a recommendation, ask for one, and collect as many positive recommendations as you can. Observe who that important business contact recommends and get to know them.
- Join relevant groups and contribute. There are thousands of industry groups on LinkedIn where members talk shop, grouse, celebrate and connect. Some groups have tens of thousands of members, others just a few. Join groups whose members include influencers in your industry, as well as that important contact youre trying to reach. Listen to what people are saying in these groups and make positive contributions when ready. With any luck, that important contact will appreciate your insights and may even engage you. You can invite someone to become your contact if you belong to the same group.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn users have a wall. Update your wall regularly with relevant links and comments and write on others walls and comments. Congratulate colleagues on their successes and promotions, announce your own news and judiciously name-drop.
Some etiquette tips: Dont hit up people you dont know, unless you can explain why, and dont make direct pitches right off the bat. LinkedIn is like a business meeting, so your value is measured in how you can help others.
MARTIN JOHNCOX is a social media consultant and producer of the Social Media Yak radio show, broadcast Saturday mornings on 580 KIDO. Contact him at 658-9100, email@example.com.