A while back I was introduced to aLinkedin. I have been on Myspace for a while, but never really did anything with it. Linkedin on the other hand seemed a little more interesting to me as a business person. Linkedin is a social networking site for business people. After doing a little research about Linkedin and social networking I realized that I have been, as the saying goes, missing the boat on the social networking movement. This article about Linkedin was written to show what is possible by becoming actively involved in social networking.
The question that really piqued my curiosity was whether or not it would be possible to build a quality business network using Linkedin. It is one thing to connect with a lot of people on a site like Linkedin, quite another to get any use out of your efforts.
I started connecting with different people on Linkedin. Somehow after building my initial profile, a few people asked me to connect with them, which I did. Linkedin does not want a person to become Linkedin to people that they do not know. The idea is that you only connect to people that you already have a relationship with. Then, if you see that one of your connections have a connection you don’t know, but would like to. You ask for an introduction. In a way this makes sense. Utilizing this method a person could build a small networking group that could become a quality social network.
Another theory of social networking is open networking. In open networking a person is a little more liberal with whom they connect. The basic theory is, you never know who you might be able to help or who might be of help to you. I first became introduced to open networking by reading an article about Steven Burda in CIO Magazine. Steven Burda is considered the “Mother Theresa” of online social networking. I decided to see what it was all about, sent Steven an inmail, (Linkedin method of communication) and we ended up becoming connecting. After a few emails we decided to talk on the phone and become better acquainted. Steven Burda has a “pay it forward” attitude. He has a good job and really does not have an immediate “need” for thousands of connections, so spends his spare time helping others get what they want, asking for nothing in return. It did not take much convincing for me to see the benefit of having an attitude like Steven’s and becoming an open networker on Linkedin.
So began my journey at becoming an open networker. I started going through the list of the top networkers on the site Top Linked and asking for connections. My introduction is, “Hello, I am J. Michael Warner, Professional Blogger and writer. I would like to connect with you on Linkedin and hope that I can bring value to you and your group.” The idea being that I would let people know who I am, what I do, but not try to sell anything.
Many of the people that I have connected with have had no real communication with me yet. Obviously the bigger your social network is, the less time one has to socialize with each individual. I really don’t see that as a big deal, I will be here when they need me. One of the fist people I connected with is a marketing expert that used to teach marketing at the college level. She read my profile and then volunteered information about how I could make it better. We have communicated by email quite a few times and she has been a big help with me trying to find my niche market. Her volunteering to help me was very impressive and just what I needed. I don’t have anyone locally that I can talk to about projects like this.
One of the best ways to socialize on Linkedin is to join Groups. Linkedin has a group for just about every subject in business, from marketing to the media to politics and more. I joined quite a few of the groups. The different groups will send out an email that has the groups daily discussions. One of the best ways to get noticed and make solid connections with others is to participate in these discussions. Don’t try to sell, try to help. What I have noticed is that people that are blatantly trying to sell don’t get much traffic, those that try to be helpful, do. An example, if someone asks a question about blogging, I have learned to just try to be helpful with the question asked. In my profile it says that I am a professional blogger. If someone needs my services they will ask. I am not saying that you should never approach someone with an offer of doing business, just don’t spam, it is a social network after all. Think of Linkedin like a Chamber of Commerce social event. You would not attend the event, introduce yourself to everyone there and immediately go into your used car sales presentation. Would You?
As of this writing I now have 148 Linkedin connections and am adding probably 5 – 10 Linkedin contacts each day. Is it worth it? Daily I receive communications from Linkedin connections that inquire about what I do and seek to get to know me better. Linkedin is working for me and the more I study it, I can see how this one social network could easily become one of the most powerful tools a business person can have in his arsenal, most especially if that business person is expanding beyond the local level.