3 Useful LinkedIn Networking Tips For Beginners
LinkedIn is much more than just an online resume forum for job seekers. Leveraging the power of LinkedIn can yield great business opportunities that in turn can expand your business and help establish yourself as an industry thought leader.
In a recent survey of 835 businesses by the Wall Street Journal and Vistage International, 41% of respondents singled out LinkedIn as “potentially beneficial to their company” and not just as a job seeking tool.
Regardless of your position or industry, networking on LinkedIn can be very beneficial for your professional development. The following 3 tips will help you reap the benefits of using LinkedIn as a networking tool.
Tip #1: Identify Business Opportunities
Finding new relevant connections on LinkedIn is fairly simple. You don’t have to go thru your Rolodex and individually run each contact through the LinkedIn search bar. LinkedIn will mine your email contacts and automatically suggest them to you as connections. Having the people you already correspond with via email (colleagues, clients etc.) as your first LinkedIn contacts is a solid strategy to start building your network.
Once you have your initial contacts you can move on and search other users by using The People You May Know (PYMK) feature. This tool will display a list of users you may know and may want to invite to be part of your network. This option works by finding commonalities such as common connections, profile information and experiences (school, work, activities, etc.) between you and other members.
The PYMK feature will help you consolidate your network by finding old connections, such as past classmates or coworkers who can later on introduce you to any person they are connected to (your 2nd and 3rd degree connections). This “Introduction” feature enables you to continually grow your network and get introduced to whoever you need to connect with.
If you are in Sales or Business Development, tools such as Company Search can be very effective at finding the right decision makers in every company. If you want to know more about Sales prospecting on LinkedIn take a look at our 5 Tips for Sales Prospecting on LinkedIn post.
Finding the right decision maker, messaging them directly, and getting past the gatekeeper is one of LinkedIn's most valuable uses.
Tip #2: Identify Needs
LinkedIn is the Encyclopedia Britannica of businesses. If you need to find information about an organization and identify any business needs they may have as a way to customize your value proposition or solution, LinkedIn is the place to go to collect that precious information.
Most companies have a very active LinkedIn profile where they post their press releases, blog posts, etc. This wealth of information will come in handy when tailoring a personalized message to a potential client, prospective employer, or anyone in that particular organization.
With over 3 million business pages, it is more than likely that you will find the organization or specific vertical you are looking for.
Tip #3: Join the “In” Crowd
One of the most valuable, if not the most valuable LinkedIn networking tool is the group feature. As an online community LinkedIn has over 2.1 million groups that are basically virtual networking forums where you can interact with members. According to LinkedIn, Groups:
“Provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share, content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts. “
Group types range from very general open groups such as “Digital Marketing” to more specific groups reserved for C level executives or other positions.
Effective salespeople use groups as a way to identify opportunities or better yet, have other users approach them directly for solutions to any issues or challenges they may have.
At first, LinkedIn may look like yet another generic social network, but after navigating its features and being an active group member you will start to see how useful it is to connect with people without having to pick up a telephone and go thru annoying gate keepers.
As Adam Rifkin; a LinkedIn Influencer says: “Relationships are progressions and re-connections are the fuel for that progress. Deepening 1-3 connections every single day makes you healthier, happier, and it's good for your career.”