Post by Helen M. Overland
Lately I've been receiving what can only be described as a flood of LinkedIn invitation requests as more and more professionals set up accounts on the service. With the amount of buzz going around about LinkedIn, it seems like just about everyone wants to get in on the "facebook" of business.
Given that inviting a new contact to your LinkedIn network is almost as common nowadays as emailing each new acquaintance, it begs the question... are you actually using LinkedIn to effectively build your business? Or are you kind of wondering what it's actually for?
Here are a few tips for making LinkedIn begin to work for your business:
1. You can only really interact with people who are 3 degrees removed from you, or closer. That means that you can only interact with people who are contacts of your friends contacts.
If, when you sign into LinkedIn, you seem to hear the emptiness of crickets chirping, it's not that LinkedIn is empty - it could just be that there are few people in your network. If you are only connected to 10 people, and they are all only connected to an average of 10 people, etc, then there may be as few as 1,000 total people you can contact through LinkedIn. The easy solution is to add more contacts to your network. (For example, as I write this, I have 40 carefully selected contacts in my network, but have access to over 2,000,000 people).
2. Get Recommended - just about everyone has at least a few happy clients - so try to get them to recommend your service in the "Service Providers" Directory. Other people can also recommend your business and increase your overall score. When people search for a service you provide, a high number of recommendations in LinkedIn may help make the sale easier, and have a positive effect on your bottom line.
3. Consider Answers - Asking and answering questions can also be a good way to connect with other people. It can be amazing what kind of people you can speak with and what kind of connections you can make simply by answering (or asking) a question. Perhaps a potential client is looking for your expertise and asks a question - you can address their concerns and supply your business as a solution immediately. Sometimes answering questions that are not as targeted, but are asked by interesting people, can help you begin to forge new alliances. It can be amazing what a little give and take can do.
If you're not interacting fairly regularly with your LinkedIn network, it's possible you may be missing out on a great deal of opportunity. Hopefully these little tips have helped somewhat in beginning to explain what you can do with LinkedIn.