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How I am using LinkedIn by a prolific off line networker

Thu 8 September 2011

As a director of BNI I'm extremely proactive in the world of offline networking. In fact, in an average week I can meet and engage with often more than 80 businesses - learning about their latest business activities, what they've been up to, their challenges, their objectives and their plans.


As I have said on many occasions to those I exchange business cards with - 'let's keep in touch'. And in my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is via using LinkedIn.


So, here are just  '5 really useful things' I use LinkedIn for:


·       Building a database of purposeful contacts


You can imagine that in my line of work I meet a hugely diversified mix of businesses. Each time I get a business card, I now ensure that I look that person up on LinkedIn and if they are on the network, I connect with them. If this contact then moves on to other ventures, changes their status or connects to someone new - I will be made aware of it through my 'linked in updates' status reports that get emailed through to me. I keep a running list of contacts and can keep up to date with them and what they are up to.


·       Getting recommendations


We're all aware of how powerful a recommendation can be. Word of mouth is still a leading way many businesses generate new business. I use the 'get recommendations' feature to ask people to share their views. A simple way to grab testimonials which add credibility to your profile - and can, of course, also be used in other marketing materials.


·       Groups


I enjoy reviewing the group activity that goes on in LinkedIn. Not only to be active in the groups I participate in, but also searching 'sectors' to see if there are any relevant conversations going on which I can contribute to. Again, growing awareness of my opinion and work - and potentially meeting new and relevant contacts.


·       Targeting


If one of my BNI chapters in London is looking for a specific business to join, then I can endeavour to search LinkedIn to see if anyone fits the bill and is ripe for an invitation. For example, let's say that our BNI West One Chapter has a need for an insolvency practitioner, then I can search, groups, conversations and people to find a match - and see if I have any relevant tier 1 connections that could introduce me to explore interest. Let me make it clear that I would never spam and approach someone I didn't know cold. However, on LinkedIn, it's effectively working you contacts to help them, help you, connect to relevant people.


·       Sharing Events


I use the events facility in LinkedIn to invite my contacts to 'BNI Open Days' these are effectively events whereby any business can come along to explore what BNI is all about. It's very simple to create an event and circulate invitations via LinkedIn - plus of course you have the added bonus of people being able to confirm whether they are attending - this is useful for two purposes 1) admin and 2) ability to share the event with my contacts' contacts. So, broadening the reach.


Of course there are many other uses – and I’ll share more in future posts.

Meanwhile, tell me how you’re using LinkedIn – always good to share experiences and tips.







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