News flash of the week: LinkedIn now has 259 million monthly active users, an increase from 238 million in the previous quarter. There’s no doubt that LinkedIn is the world’s largest social media platform when it comes to business networking, however only a handful of its 259 million members are getting any real business benefits out of it.
In this article, I’m focussing more on the ‘business networking’ aspect of LinkedIn and to be frank, this is the very thing that lets most Singaporean business professionals down – they simply do not embrace the concept of real business networking.
Business networking is leveraging your business and personal connections to build mutually beneficial, win-win relationships so that you have a regular supply of new business. What this actually means is that you have to take the time to nurture and build trust and relationships with your connections and this is where LinkedIn fails for most people.
Having trained people extensively on how to use LinkedIn to win more business, this is the 3 biggest reasons why people are not getting the results they should be getting from LinkedIn:
1. Not having a good impression
Like in ‘real’ life, subconsciously or not, we judge or are judged by our first impression and this is just as relevant online as it is offline. Imagine that we have a LinkedIn profile. I have no doubt that people are passing by and sizing you up based on your profile picture, your summary, history – or lack thereof and the other bits of pieces of information you put on there. Having a great LinkedIn profile not only provides you with a good first impression, its other benefits include:
- People knowing what it is that you do so that it becomes more easy for them to approach you with opportunities;
- You build credibility through your professional associations, publications, projects, career history, leadership qualities that are shown through volunteering or your track records;
- You build a level of trust through third party endorsements and recommendations for your line of work;
- Makes you more attractive to potential employers and recruiters;
- You show that you are a real and approachable person and not some spammer who has set up a fake profile to spam or mine contact data through LinkedIn.
If you are on LinkedIn and if you are handing out your business cards – then you should assume that you are being Googled and that it’s most likely that your LinkedIn profile would pop up. Is your LinkedIn profile letting you down in those important initial stages of turning connections into real business relationships?
2. Connecting and running
What phases me is the number of people who use LinkedIn to either; store their contact lists (or a repository of business cards they’ve collected over the years), OR use it as a popularity contest to see who could get the most number of connections.
Sure a large number of connections can help if you are in recruitment and it’s great for opening up your reach of your connection’s connections (people who you know, knows other people). However 1,000 or 5,000 connections doesn’t mean anything if none of these people would approach you with a career or business opportunity.
LinkedIn is about dealing with people who you know, like and trust. However only approaching people when you have a need or want to sell something is not going to cut it.
Consider adding value to your networks by sharing an interesting article relevant to them, meet them for a coffee to learn more about their business and how you could help each other – and if possible, introduce or refer them to somebody in your network who could help them.
That way, you are building a stronger relationship with your networks – as well as an advocate for your personal brand, products or services. This is all about building that give-take, win-win situations for the long term benefit of your business or career.
3. Letting your profile collect dust
Number three on my list – are those who have spent valuable time to build a LinkedIn profile, but don’t do anything more than just the occasional connecting or accepting connection requests from other people.
You may have met someone at a networking event, educational course or business meeting, you may even have gotten along with them very well – however the most that was done was an exchange of business cards and a connection on LinkedIn.
The problem with this is that most people are busy. Once they get back to their office and get back into their routines… if you haven’t followed up with them, then you could expect that 3 – 6 months down the track, you may vaguely remember one another.
In order to get better results from LinkedIn, you need to be visible and be on top of your connections’ minds. They may not need your products or services, or know how to help you right away, however being on the top of their minds will mean that when the opportunity arises – you will be the first ‘accountant’ or ‘lawyer’ or ‘web developer’… that comes up.
Instead of letting your profile collect dust, try sharing valuable information through your status updates, or joining relevant groups and start contributing to discussions and positioning yourself as a leader in your field. Have a play. Get active. Get visible. Be remembered and reap the networking benefits that LinkedIn has to offer.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Linda Le is a LinkedIn trainer, speaker, and coach in online business relationships, networking, and referrals. Certified as an Executive and Career Coach, Linda's experience is carried through by coaching Professionals, Business Owners, Managers, Directors, and C-Level Executives, particularly about personal branding, reputation building, and effective networking on LinkedIn.