After attending a workshop on using LinkedIn for personal branding and networking, hosted by The Garage Marketing, I had a Eureka moment:
LinkedIn is not a just a social network, it should be considered a communication tool for expanding your professional network and developing your business.
Just before the holidays, I had received an invitation to a free seminar being held here in Lecco; the Digital Cafè LinkedIn Workshop. It just happened to be at the right time too. I was clearing out some e-clutter and I was seriously considering canceling my LinkedIn account – my reasoning was “Why do I need so many social accounts?!”.
Arriving at the conference center, I still had a few doubts. I entered hesitantly, wondering if I had made the right choice giving up my free afternoon to follow a three-hour seminar about LinkedIn. I felt reassured after seeing a few familiar faces also there to learn something new.
The workshop was held by Maria Silvia Pettinicchio Krebs, Owner/CEO of The Garage Marketing, a marketing and communication agency in Milan.
The aim of the workshop was to teach professionals how to use LinkedIn for personal branding and networking.
Here’s what I learned:
- Linkedin is not just a social network
- Online connections can turn into work
- Strategies and tips on how to utilize LinkedIn
LinkedIn is not just a social network
Although LinkedIn looks and functions like a social media platform, unlike other platforms, the underlying factor which brings the community together is business networking. Contrary to other online networks, LinkedIn was designed as a tool to make connections with people that you can do business with.
Curate your contacts
Upon registration, your email address book is automatically imported, including your friends and family members. In order to use it as a tool for work, you should really focus on keeping your LinkedIn contact list to people that will help you reach your professional goals. That’s not to say you should cancel friends and family; they may very well help you make the right connections. Used in the right way, LinkedIn will give you the opportunity to make new contacts and expand your professional network.
Pettinicchio Krebs emphasized the importance of curating your contacts. She recommended, “Ask yourself: Who do you want to do business with?”
You may find that you have different contact sets such as suppliers or customers. In my case as a travel content creator, I would like to connect with people who need copywriting for their websites or publications; editors, tour operators and destination marketing managers. As a blogger, I would like to contact venues, services and local tourist boards for my own publications. You may find that your contact sets overlap.
Online connections can turn into work
Pettinicchio Krebs stated that 80% of her agency’s work comes from contacts made through LinkedIn. I found this very encouraging, especially after having decided to keep my account active.
Once you have decided who to connect with, the next step is contacting them. You can search people by company name or job title. Once you have found them, you can click “connect” or “follow”. “Follow” means that you will get notifications about their activity on the LinkedIn Activity Feed (message board). As a follower, you can’t exchange messages. When you click “connect”, you can exchange messages and information. Keep in mind; people are more likely to accept a connection if there is a personal message introducing yourself. Tip: From the desktop version of LinkedIn, you can send a personalized note. If you click “connect” from your mobile, it does not give you the option to send a message.
Once you start a dialog with someone, you can exchange information. The conversation can lead to an interview, project meeting or sales contract.
Strategies and tips on how to utilize LinkedIn
The two main functions of LinkedIn are:
1) network management – making connections with potential clients or suppliers that will help increase your business.
2) the Activity Feed – an online social media message board that keeps your connections involved and informed.
Strategies and tips for network management
I think the best tip that Pettinicchio Krebs gave us was “Once you’ve made connections online, treat the relationship like a real relationship; find common interests, find common ground.”
More often than not, social media can be very impersonal and one-way. I think that by reminding each other that we are real people behind the screen, it also makes working with someone easier. Trust and authenticity are of utmost importance when starting a business relationship.
Strategies and tips for the LinkedIn Activity Feed
The activity feed is a little daunting, especially for users who do not utilize or engage on other social media platforms.
Here are some more tips from Digital Café LinkedIn Workshop:
LinkedIn is NOT Facebook
I used to make the mistake of posting everything across the board, on all media outlets- but each platform is different and each has a specific audience. After having adjusted my message, I see that I am getting new, and better feedback.
What to post
Writing an article directly on LinkedIn is a good way to keep users informed and share your expertise. You can write directly on the LinkedIn platform or share an article link from your blog. Tip: articles written directly on LinkedIn get better visualization.
Writing a short post keeps connections active too. Open a dialog by sharing your insights on a subject of interest. Write a short message about something you have learned – if it was helpful to you, it will be helpful for others.
Don’t sell your product, sell yourself
“Create relationships, not sales!” – another pearl of wisdom from Pettinicchio Krebs.
According to Wikipedia, Social Selling “is the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process.” There is no need to push products and offers in people’s faces – there’s enough of that online, on other social media and TV.
Expressing your personality online
Your personality and talents should shine through in your posts.
One of the exercises we did at the workshop helped us identify personal qualities and talents. By expressing your personality and talents in the content you publish, you can connect with others that have similar values and interests.
Engage with others’ posts
“Engagement” is the word that social media platforms use to mean “interaction amongst users”. You can like, comment and share posts on the Activity Feed.
Writing something interesting on the message board is the most efficient way to connect, but you can also share and comment on others’ if you are not into writing.
Used in the right way, LinkedIn can be a powerful asset for expanding your professional network and developing your business.
Many thanks to Maria Silvia Pettinicchio Krebs. I now have a new tool and skills to develop new connections and help me reach my professional goals.
Disclaimer: I do not have any affiliation or working relationship with LinkedIn
This article is also available on my LinkedIn profile