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Stop Using LinkedIn Wrong

When we bring a new client onto our Business Development System, one of the first conversations I have is about how they’re using LinkedIn. The answer is typically some version of, “I set up my profile… What else am I supposed to do?”

Not = Facebook + Resume

Is there more to LinkedIn than putting your resume online? Many people say they use LinkedIn to connect with people they already know or to find people they’ve just met at a tradeshow or networking event. This is getting warmer.

Even more advanced, “I sometimes go on and find people I’d like to get to know,” said a recent client who has been “trying to spend more time on LinkedIn.”

Others are posting pictures of work events, their workspaces, or their morning latte.

So is that it? Is LinkedIn just Facebook with a resume? What does it look like to “get the most” out of LinkedIn?

Start with “Who”

For clients on our System, we start by figuring out who they want to be and whom they want to connect to. If you know “who” you’re talking to, it makes it much easier to know what to say.

I’m a strong believer in putting the right message in front of the right person if you want to create relevant connections and conversations. People value that. That’s why we named the company Relevant. :)

For example, we have a client that can do great work for companies in many industries. They’re the classic Swiss Army Knife of marketing solutions. But marketing to everyone is impractical, not to mention completely forgettable. Instead we ask, “who can you best serve?” or even “who do you most want to work with?”

Those questions become easier to answer. The client had done great portfolio-building work with a homebuilder and had top-tier case studies they could share. This was their “who.”

Keep It Relevant

Once you know who you’re talking to, just tell them your most relevant message. For homebuilders, they want to know there’s a marketing firm with specialized experience in growing their type of business. Boom.

So, we re-wrote the “About” section on LinkedIn for our client to showcase their expertise in marketing for homebuilders. Instead of a resume, it becomes more of a sales page on the kind of work they do and why a prospective customer would want to work with them. Now their LinkedIn page is doing something!

The Opposite of Driving Traffic

Once you have a meaningful, and again, relevant, message to share, suddenly it makes much more sense to reach out and connect with the people you want to do business with.

In our example, the owner of the marketing company reaches out to the owner of a homebuilding company to connect and the builder doesn’t have to wonder “who is this?” or “what does this person want?”

He or she simply reads the invite, checks out the profile and decides if they’re interested in adding that person. It is the least spammy, most respectful and truly value-focused way to reach out to someone in business.

I love how it sidesteps the “networking ballet” of acting like you just want to be friends. Does anyone go to a networking event to make friends? Hopefully you have a better method for friend-finding. And let’s all agree to keep “friend-making” (or worse) to Facebook (or the sites where that behavior is at all appropriate—looking at you dudes sending “Want to meet up?” messages via InMail. So not okay). /rant

So let’s use LinkedIn for what it is meant for! Professional networking. From LinkedIn’s own mission statement:

“The mission of LinkedIn is simple:

connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”

Please stop using LinkedIn wrong and start using it to be productive and successful, not to mention considerate of everyone’s valuable time.

Tell people who you are, tell them why you want to connect, and help them know how you can help them so they can opt-in to the connection with everyone’s intentions in the clear.

How not to LinkedIn

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