LinkedIn! Ah, LinkedIn the official “business social network.”
I want you to think about LinkedIn as a business networking event. To use it well, you’ll want to be posting and commenting on and sharing information on your business, in your industry, what’s happening in your industry.
Perhaps this includes information about or things you learned while attending trade shows, or industry news, or a contrary point of view, maybe what’s coming up next in your industry. One thing I’d encourage is to keep the content you post and share 100% focused on work/business/industry.
Of course, on LinkedIn, people will ask you to connect them with someone you know in your LinkedIn network. The right thing to do, if you feel comfortable, is to make these introductions to people when asked.
But here is the thing, we probably all have a network on LinkedIn, and probably if you are anything like I am …and I say this because I hate to admit this but I will show you how to work on this…is that you collect a network of people on LinkedIn…
And pretty soon you have 250, 500, over 1000, several thousand people in your LinkedIn network and then the inevitable happens:
“Bob” comes to you, messages to you and says, “Hey, I see you are connected to Sheila, I want to interview her for this certain role. What can you tell me about her?”
And you are like, “Sheila who? I don’t know. We haven’t talked in seven years. I don’t remember how I met her. I know she is on my network, but…”
That’s the thing.
You have a real goldmine of potential prospects, colleagues, collaborators in your own network that you are not mining yourself. I know first-hand that it is kind of a difficult thing to always keep your network warm. But here is a way I would suggest you start to warm up your LinkedIn network. What I’m about to explain to you is what I have been doing recently to reach out and warm up my network.
I have over 1700 people in my LinkedIn network and I have to tell you I was in the same situation as “Bob’s colleague” was in the story, just going, oh! some of these people, I don’t know what they are up to. I can’t remember how we met!
And of course you can scroll down and read what’s going on with everybody based on what they put on their profile, but really, in order to recommend somebody, in order to say, “hey, maybe that person will be a great collaborator on our next project,” you really need to know a bit more about them.
So, here is a thing I started with. Personally, I started alphabetically and was feeling like “I’ve got to reconnect with my network. I’ve just got to figure out what’s going on and get back in touch with all of them.”
This image here, this is Angela Russell. We worked together a million years ago, ’98 to ’99, in the late ’90s. I was in London when we were both working at the Financial Times and we had a great time working together.
Back then, LinkedIn wasn’t even invented. We had kept in touch and we finally got connected September 22nd, 2010. So, still a while back. That’s when we first connected on LinkedIn.
And if you ever want to see where it is or how long it has been since you have connected with someone, all you do is you go to that person and then you click on the ‘See contact info’ and it will pop up email, phone number, birthday, whatever the person wants to put in there, but you also see the date that you connected. So, you can wonder, “Oh! okay, what was I doing then, how did we connect?” So, you can jog your memory a little bit.
Anyway, what I have been doing is reaching out by the message, so you can message people at your network and just saying, “Hey, it’s been X amount of years…” in this case it has been eight years since we have connected, “Let’s spend 15 minutes on the phone in the next few weeks and reconnect and find out what’s going on with each other.” And I have found that it has been, of course, you got to make the first move, but that has been a fantastic way to reconnect with other people I have worked with in the past. It has produced more opportunities for client work, for collaboration and getting back in touch and really warming up the network. So, I invite you to give that a try if it helps.
I had three different reactions when I started to do this. It was very interesting…as these are people that I apparently know, like, and trust me enough to connect with me, right? So, if this can just prepare you for how that’s going to go.
I’d get one of three different reactions:
Reaction 1: ‘Yeah, no problem, let’s connect, great to hear from you. Thanks for making the first move.’
Reaction 2: “What is it that you want to talk about?” I think some people think that when you reach out like that all you want to do is sell them something. And I just said, here is this line, we are connected and I don’t know a lot about what’s going on with you. Let’s put up 15 minutes and see what we should do. And that usually results in agreement and then we get on the phone.
Reaction 3: And then the third is the calendar ping pong. Tuesday at 4 pm? No next Wednesday at 6 pm right? So that keeps going back and forth.
But largely it has been a positive thing. So, I would encourage you to use your existing network, warm it up, you have no idea what kind of leads, what kind of business opportunities, what kind of collaboration opportunities are happening and these are actually people that already know, like, and trust you.
If you think of the sales funnel, they are already half way down there and could prove really really helpful to your business. As well if you think, “Oh! you know what, people can see it online, my program or my profile, what it is that I am doing, who I am working with, what I am up to.” A lot of people either don’t take the time to read or aren’t really sure what your industry-specific business jargon means. So, make the 15 minutes, a warm voice on the other end of the call or even a Zoom call and you can warm that right up and be surprised by the business opportunities that can come through.
Good luck, and if we’re in each other’s network – call me for our 15-minute warm-up conversation. I’d love to hear from you!
Jen Kelly is a marketing consultant in Toronto and CEO of New Initiatives Marketing Inc. (NIM) serving growing businesses in Canada and the USA. NIM is the team to call for marketing execution excellence. For companies that don’t have a marketing department, we become your marketing department. For companies that have an existing marketing team and are challenged adding capacity and skills to their team due to a head-count freeze, we act as your marketing team’s right-hand, supporting the skills needed on a monthly basis. Contact us today for a conversation about your company’s marketing needs.