LinkedIn is the #1 social network for business professionals. If you’re not using it to find and make connections then you are missing out on a huge resource. Joining LinkedIn is free. Sure they offer premium services but until you’re really digging in it probably isn’t necessary to spend the money. Although, if you’ve though about it and you’re serious about moving your business ahead and leveraging social media to get there then you should probably look at the the 50% off end-of-year special that they’re promoting (I got this link in my email I can’t guarantee it’s going to work for you).
First things first, round out your profile. When someone contacts me or when I get a lead the very first thing I do is check them out. Before I return an email or make a call, if I haven’t heard of you I’m going to look and see what you’re doing online.
First string on this front for me is rapportive. But wait let me back up a bit. I use gmail for all my of my email accounts, no not my gmail.com address, I run all of my business addresses through gmail. I do this for a couple of reasons.
- The SPAM filter is unbelievable, truly fantastic, almost no SPAM makes it to my inbox and this saves me tons of time
- Add-Ons, filters and labels, search and archive.
- Portability. I don’t have to sync up a bunch of accounts I can access it from anywhere, it works great on my phone.
I could really go on but I’ll stop here and if I hear requests I’ll cover some power prospecting/networking strategies and tactics that involve the gmail interface. One final word, setting up gmail to take over any private or business account is easy, don’t be intimidated by the technology.
Back to LinkedIn and Rapportive. Rapportive is one of the add-on’s I’ve come to rely on heavily, every single day. When your email comes into my inbox I can instantly learn more about you with Rapportive.
We get a fairly high volume of inquiries via the web for this site and in my auction business we also have a huge flow property inquiries, each one of these is attached to a unique email address and most emails are attached to some social media accounts. In our world the most important social media site is LinkedIn. Rapportive instantly shows me whether or not you’re in LinkedIn, gives me a link to your profile, and gives me a button to initiate a connection request. I check every profile that lands in my inbox so I can see:
- Where you are on the face of the planet
- What your business profile is, what type of customers or clients do you have, etc.
- A link to your website, you should have a website and you should have the link on your profile page.
- What you’ve been talking about online.
- Who (what types of people) you’re connected to
Now you could look at this list and start to dismiss pieces of it but you’d be making a mistake. If you’re looking to do business with people and you use email you’re being investigated online, period. Today there are 85 million LinkedIn members, it matters. If this seems like a lot so far, and I suppose to some it is, then I suggest you take bite size chunks and 3 definite steps. If this is old news to you, that’s probably good news.
Complete your profile. As I started to say above before I got sidetracked you should complete your profile, for a number of reasons. A completely blank LinkedIn profile smells like neglect. It could be that you are so busy doing deals that you’ve never had time to add anything to your account but what it looks like is that you’re not doing any business. It isn’t fair, it probably isn’t true, but that’s what it looks like.
The second reason you should complete your profile is to improve your own personal Google results. Yes, even if your prospect or potential client isn’t in LinkedIn they do ‘google’ and they will probably google you before they do business with you. That’s the world we live in.
Have you googled yourself lately? How did it look? Are you happy with the results? Go google yourself from a fresh browser or even better from a Chrome Incognito window so that your results aren’t skewed by your browser history. When I google myself the first thing that comes up is a domain I registered that’s my name but the very next thing is LinkedIn. So if we were going to do business together you might take a quick look at my site but most of the time you’re going to go right to LinkedIn. The stats I track on my site and LinkedIn prove that out.
The third reason is that people will be more open to connecting with you if you’re telling them a bit about yourself. Nobody wants to receive an invitation or email from a practically anonymous ‘other’, it raises all kinds of questions ‘is this SPAM?’ ‘what could this person want?’, ‘are they really in business?’ Just eliminate all this by having a complete profile that is reflective of who you are, what you do, and who you work with.
Join some groups. The major purpose in social media is connecting. Groups are just what you think they are. They are a bunch of people talking about a subject. Yes they can get SPAMMY and yes there are trolls out there but there is another reason to to join a group, access. Joining groups gives you access to members. Members of a group agree to be contacted (usually) by other members, the search results that you can see and the number of people you can contact after joining some groups goes up dramatically. The image below shows the option box that most people who join groups leave checked.
Invite everyone you know. You must have lists. If you’ve been in business for any length of time I’m sure you have lists. You might have:
- Trade show spreadsheets
- Online client inquiries
- Outlook/Entourage/Address Book lists
- Gmail contacts
Whatever you’ve got, I’m sure you have some lists of people and most importantly their email addresses. Hopefully these people are in your industry, even if they’re not but you have reason to believe that you’ve had some business contact/relationship with them even at the smallest level, invite them. Gather up these lists and head over to LinkedIn. In the top right corner you’ll see Add Connections, click it. Now you see a couple of forms. You can go through the steps they have here or you can be really efficient and use the “Import your desktop email contacts” link at the bottom of the blue box on the right.
Just do this. I think there is a tendency to hem and haw about who to add or not or how the invite will be taken. I’ve never ever had anyone say they were offended by an invite, ever. If you upload a list, depending on how fresh it is I would wager that about 1/3 of the people you invite will accept.
I hope this is a decent primer, it is meant for beginners. If members or might be members have a further interest in hearing about some more ‘advanced’ tactics ar strategies, let me know in the comments.
If you do these 3 steps above, the results and personal details that you’ll have access to in BankProspector via the LinkedIn panel will go up dramatically.
Are you looking to do more distressed asset business? Want to source commercial, multifamily, construction, or residential non-performing loan and REO deals directly from over 7,000 lenders? You need a professional grade research and prospecting tool, you need BankProspector.