Create a profile. Ask people to connect with you. Update your account with new info.
Technically speaking, it may mean you’re on LinkedIn. But it isn’t really making LinkedIn work for you.
These three steps represent the basic, passive approach that the majority of businesspeople take once they join LinkedIn. In fact, some people don’t even get that far, merely entering the basics into a profile and leaving it as is for months at a time.
Which is a lost opportunity, considering the vast potential and promise it holds, particularly for entrepreneurs
“LinkedIn is the most effective business development tool since the advent of the cellular phone,” says Steve Fretzin, president of Sales Results, a national sales training firm. “In a time when gatekeepers and voicemail have all but eradicated the sales professional, inside connections are sometimes the only way through the door.”
That means entrepreneurs willing to dial it up a notch or two to switch their passive LinkedIn presence into a much more active one can be found more often, prospect for business more productively, leverage their network better and engage in true relationship building.
How? By using these five lesser-used but far more active tactics to power up your presence on LinkedIn:
#1: Rev up your recommendation acquisitions
By themselves, adding recommendations may seem passive, but I’m speaking more of the way in which you view and pursue them. Sure, you probably ask for a recommendation now and then. But every client/strategic partner/employer you have or have ever had a positive outcome with should represent a recommendation on LinkedIn. That’s right. Every single one. After all, shouldn’t someone who has benefited from your services want to say good things about you? Of course they should. This is perhaps the most underutilized feature of LinkedIn.
What’s more, recommendations may be more effective than anything else on your profile, according to Mr. Fretzin.
“A good analogy is how people choose a restaurant these days. We’re living in a time when people are more likely to trust the opinions of someone on Yelp or Urbanspoon than a critic’s review,” he said. “Similarly, on LinkedIn, we’d rather read the recommendations of others than only hearing what the person we are researching has to say. Why? Because we’d rather listen to people who are like us.”
#2: Are they looking at you? Then seize the moment.
When you upgrade to a LinkedIn Premium account, you can see all the people who have looked at your profile as opposed to only the most recent, which you see in the free version. What’s the advantage here? Without being creepy about it (“I saw you were looking at me!”), this represents an opportunity for potential follow-up as chances are good that person has some intent in looking for someone in your field or as a strategic partner.
#3: Optimize your profile for your target
Another advantage of LinkedIn Premium? You can see the search terms people are using to find your profile, which enables you to tailor your profile to incorporate the most popular terms. This goes beyond just tweaking your profile for the sake of appearing in search. It’s taking an active role in seeing how a specific set of search terms resonate with a specific set of people you want to attract more of.
#4: Search smarter and faster
Besides optimizing your profile to be found more easily, the other side of the search equation is in searching for your ideal prospect faster without restrictions. The Premium level enables you to save serious time by quickly zeroing in on prospects based on criteria such as seniority, company size, function, groups and more.
#5: Maximize activity with a warmer introduction
How often are you asked for an introduction to someone in your network?
How often do you ask a connection to introduce you to someone in their network.
Not much? You’re not alone. By themselves, cocktail hour networking and morning coffee chats may seem productive, but one of the biggest mistakes Mr. Fretzin sees people make is when they equate increased networking activity with progress – and becoming frustrated when relationships stall. A third-party introduction via LinkedIn can change that dynamic.
“The typical networker is only 10 percent effective at obtaining a quality introduction from someone they meet through networking,” Mr. Fretzin said. “Ninety percent of the time, people are just meeting people for meeting people’s sake. LinkedIn can take networking to another level when you leverage past or existing clients to get introduced to that person’s network at a high level.”
I’ll contend there are certain areas with LinkedIn that could allow for far more of a true business dashboard that incorporates a CRM, complete social networking, video conferencing and more. If and when it ever gets to that point, look out.
But let’s not wait for that evolution before evolving ourselves – because by turning the typically passive presence on LinkedIn into a more active one, we won’t just be standing out from the majority. We’ll be more likely to transform mere “Connections” into real relationships.
And isn’t that what we’re there to do?