Facebook and Twitter are great tools for engaging your clients, past clients and potential clients online. But when it comes to finding referral resources and gaining their trust, that’s where LinkedIn excels. In fact, with 300 million people currently using the service, you could spend years getting to know them all.
If you haven’t already, open a LinkedIn account today (it’s free).
If you already have an account, but you’re struggling to grow your network of connections, try these tips:
LinkedIn is a free service. But if you pay for the premium version (it’s cheaper than you might think), you’ll gain access to the functions and features that make this a truly powerful networking tool.
Use the Find Friends feature
If you’re new to LinkedIn, the first thing you’ll want to do is click the Find Friends button in the upper right corner of the LinkedIn screen to search for old clients, friends and coworkers, current clients, friends, family members and coworkers, and accept the invitations of other LinkedIn users.
If you’re already using LinkedIn, you’ll find the premium version of the Find Friends feature offers more powerful search functions. In fact, the more you pay (there are three levels of paid plans), the more powerful the search capability.
Add a personal note
When you send a request asking to be connected to another LinkedIn member, your chances of success will be far better if you include a personal note. Mention the name(s) of anyone you know in common. Include a sentence explaining why you want to connect (e.g. “Hi, Greg. I’m a fan of your blog and would love to become part of your network”).
Keep it short and sweet. And make it your goal to send at least one new connection request every day.
Add more keywords to your profile
“Real estate,” “real estate agent” and “real estate broker” are all examples of keywords – the words other users will type into the LinkedIn search filters to find you. To increase your chances of being discovered by those other users, litter your LinkedIn profile page with more of these keywords.
To game the system, some savvy LinkedIn users repeat the same keywords over and over throughout their profile page. However, you have to be smart about this or it’ll be obvious you’re just trying to take advantage of the LinkedIn service.
Add the @ symbol to your status updates
An easy way to grab the attention of another LinkedIn user is to mention the person/company by name in one of your LinkedIn status updates, preceded by the @ symbol (e.g. “@Xpressdocs”). Once you click the Share button, the person/company will receive an alert letting them know you mentioned them.
Join LinkedIn groups
Once you join a group, you can message any of the other members (without the need to be a first-degree connection). The more groups you join, the faster you can expand your sphere of influence.
Create your own group
If you create your own LinkedIn group (e.g. Sacramento Real Estate), you can draw in other LinkedIn users with the same interest, and establish yourself as an industry thought-leader.
Regularly update your profile
Each time you update or edit your profile, your network of connections will be alerted to the change. That means, every time you receive an award or finish new training, you should let your connections know by updating your profile.
LinkedIn is different from many of the other social media tools. It’s less focused on sharing and socializing, and more about networking, meeting new people and expanding your sphere of influence. To start interacting with the millions of other users, just apply the tips included above.
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