The following is an excerpt with minor edits from The Social Media Why: A Busy Professional’s Practical Guide to Using Social Media Including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and Blogs for Business by Crystal Washington.
Reconnect With Old Business ContactsEveryone has lost touch with a good business contact. Perhaps you or he/she moved or switched companies. Unless you are a stalker, you probably would not feel comfortable tracking down the person’s home address and showing up at the front door. However, LinkedIn provides a great, non-spooky way to reconnect. Simply type the name in the search box, or upload an old contact file. Or, using the advanced search option, type in part of the name and his/ her past place of employment, and then see if you come up with something. If so, connect! While I’m sure you are memorable, be sure to personalize your connection request message just in case the person needs a little reminder of how you know each other. Without a personalized message, or picture, you are subject to being ignored.
Keep In Touch With New ContactsWhere are all of your contacts’ business cards? If they are in a Rolodex, shoe box, plastic card carriers, or anywhere other than uploaded somewhere digitally, you are doing yourself a disservice. The best way to ensure you’ll stay in touch with contacts is to connect with them via social media. This way, you can keep up with each other between visits, calls, and e-mails. You can comment on their posts or send them messages when you see they’ve changed positions, companies, or added something to their profile. In Chapter 9, I’ll give you tips on how to best upload your contacts into networks like LinkedIn. Connect with fellow members of professional organizations between meetings. Many official organizations have also started LinkedIn groups. Some are public, others private. Either way, this can be a great way to connect with fellow members to ask questions, exchange information, and get input. Save time collecting information. Have a question on how to structure a proposal, on industry standards, or if your target market will buy a new item? Post a discussion question or poll in a group. I recently saw a member of a meeting planners’ group post a question about contracting. Within a day, several veteran planners responded with detailed information and even templates. Now that’s value!
Improve Your Search Engine RankingsHave you ever Googled yourself? If not, I would suggest you try it. Type your name into Google and see what pops up. If you have a common name, you may see a variety of people, blogs, articles, and videos as results. However, if your name is a bit more uncommon, you may see your “evil name-twin,” popping up all over the first two pages of search results. Your evil name-twin tortures baby turtles while farting on butterflies for a living. Not good! Or, you might find that picture of yourself which your ex-best friend posted on her blog. You know the one—where you are tipsy and moonwalking. Either way, you want the good stuff about you to pop up first. The great news is Google and other search engines love LinkedIn. Having a complete LinkedIn profile increases the chances a positive representation of you will pop up high in search engines. Results will vary based on how popular your name is. The more items on the Web with your name, the harder it will be to get on the first two pages of search engine results.
Prospect And Eliminate Cold CallsI used to be in sales, and I know, for most people, cold calling is about as much fun as a root canal. Who wants to call someone they do not have a relationship with to try to convince them they should have a business relationship? Yes, LinkedIn can help you here as well. Whether you are trying to connect with a potential client or a hiring manager, it is always better to get an introduction. Do you know the person’s name and place of work? Assuming you know this information, use the search box to find the person you want to connect with. Then, click on his/her profile and look to the left to see if you have any mutual contacts. Here is where things get tricky—ready? Do not use the “request an introduction” option on LinkedIn. Instead, pick up the phone and call the mutual contact— you do know him/ her after all, and say that you’d like to set up a lunch or would like to be somehow introduced to your desired new contact. Technology is great, but sometimes other forms of communication just make more sense. You can take this process up a notch with the advanced search option. Using the advanced search you can find the names of individuals holding specific titles at a specific company, in an industry, and so on. It is the most powerful, yet under utilized, tool on LinkedIn. Missed the first part of this excerpt? Read it here.
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