Using LinkedIn to meet and gain donors and clients
When I first started Blue Deer Forest over 10 years ago, I didn’t understand networking and how it worked. I had no idea how to meet new people, and I was clueless about how to connect with people at a conference. Around 2010 I discovered a book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. Keith introduces lots of concepts around bonding with potential clients or organizations in atypical, memorable ways. The author suggests meeting up with people and doing something out of the ordinary with them, such as attending a yoga class together, or inviting them to dinner at your home. Cultivating this “shared experience” with someone gives the relationship some fresh material to build upon, and expands your concepts of each other in meaningful, enjoyable ways. This type of connection is a deeply human experience, and one that business folks can benefit from embracing.
Recently I’ve been embracing LinkedIn as a tool to do research and marketing for Blue Deer Forest. In the last 2 weeks alone, I’ve been helping my colleagues and clients really understand how to use this powerful tool for connection. Here are a few tips on what’s worked for me over the years. These tips are working wonders for my clients, and can help any professional wanting to make the most out of their digital image.
1) Fill out your profile as much as you can.
Sure, you took French in college, so list that and any other languages you know. You don’t belong to that many associations, but go ahead and list what you do have. Really make your profile as robust as possible, even if it seems off topic (I for instance bake cookies for P:ear regularly, and I list it even though it doesn’t directly impact my career as a web developer. It shows the viewer that I’m connected, engaged, and shares with them some of my values). You’ll want to ALWAYS include a photo, as it personalizes you and gives your audience another chance to connect. I tend to not connect with people who don’t have a photo, mainly because it feels like they have something to hide. You don’t want to hide yourself! We want to see your online presence really shine.
2) Engage with everyone you know
How many connections do you have? If it’s under 150, start connecting with more colleagues, clients, and people you come into contact on a regular basis. You would be surprised how many folks you will connect with. The more you connected, the more attractive your profile looks. Also, this gives you leverage to connect with someone you DON’T know, see #4 below on how to best use your connections.
3) Ask for introductions
There’s a feature in LinkedIn that allows you to ask your connections to introduce you to someone who you ARE NOT connected to. This is one of the golden tickets LinkedIn offers that few other networking sites can match. For example, someone I know used this feature last year, hoping I could connect her with a few human resource professionals I know. Instead of connecting her with the people she wanted to meet, I actually told her I would recommend a different set of colleagues that would be able to answers some interview questions she had, and they did it in a timely manner to boot!
It CANNOT hurt to ask to be introduced. The worst thing that can happen is that your email is ignored, and the best case is you get introduced to the BEST match for what you are seeking. Do you research, and take this little risk. It can pay off big time.
4) Use the advanced feature in LinkedIn
A lot of folks don’t know about this, but if you look right next to the main search bar in the LinkedIn, there in small print is “Advanced”. Click on it and you can perform searches based by industry, mutual connections, regions, and companies. This is definitely a tool I love on LinkedIn, and the tool I use most frequently. Recently I’ve been mentoring a college student and wanted to connect her with folks in the publishing and PR industry. Using the advanced search, I was able to see quickly who I knew that currently worked or did work in those fields. Talk about getting the job done!
5) Check out other people’s profiles
Yes, it sounds like I’m asking you to spy on this person but seriously, if you want to get to know and grab someone’s attention, find out what school they went to, what are their hobbies, which groups and associations they belong to, check out their profile. LinkedIn profiles are so rich with information, even the folks who have the most basic profile give you data you can learn from. Every relationships starts with a mutual connection, and any little detail they’ve posted could be the branch on which you build a flourishing professional relationship.
6) Ask for Recommendations
The more recommendations on your LinkedIn profile, the better. Recommendations help you stand out, and they’re a great way to boost your credibility and skill strengths. Explore the built-in tool to ask your connections for recommendations on specific roles or jobs. Let’s show the world what you’ve got to offer (and all the brilliant minds who’ll vouch for you, too).
7) Give recommendations
Giving a colleague, team member, or coworker a LinkedIn recommendation is the top way to offer public praise. I’ve been using this feature back since late 2000s, and I still find that for each recommendation I give, I almost always get one back. The feature might be a bit dated, but it’s still a great way to share someone’s strengths and skill set. Not to mention, good karma!
What are your favorite ways to use LinkedIn for your organization or business? I only covered a few ways to do it, please share your tips with us on Twitter, @bluedeerforest.