LinkedIn’s recent IPO has infused new life into the network. There has been a heavy influx of new users setting up their profiles, or taking a fresh look at the LinkedIn profile they set up long ago. Perhaps their situation has changed and they are inspired to log in, dust off their old profile and see if they can make this LinkedIn thing work for them.
That’s what happened recently with a person who found me when searching LinkedIn for expert help. He reached out via an OpenLink message (the equivalent of a toll free number on LinkedIn) for some tips on getting started. During our phone conversation to schedule the chat, he gave me permission to publish the dialog to help others in a similar situation.
Kevin Smith wrote
This is Kevin — from Photoshop Me Artistically. You accepted my invitation last week. I had a question or maybe even a couple for you. I know that you are among the very top and best of the best here on LinkedIn. And to be honest, I just got an account less than 1 week ago. I have no idea what I am doing on LinkedIn as far as what to do. I was wondering if you might be willing to offer some advice. Like how do I get new clients (LinkedIn connections) to go to our new website (Photoshop Me Artistically) and actually purchase our services?
Is there a “proper” way to use LinkedIn? And is LinkedIn a place to “market” to your connections?
Sorry for all the dumb questions, but I am very new at this business stuff. I am by trade a web designer, photographer & graphic artist. And business is NOT my strong suit.
Thanks for listening,
Lori Ruff replied
Dude! FABULOUS Question! We should have a call, either via Skype or phone… I can use your questions in a blog post with attribution to you and include your profile URL so people can find you.
Here’s the first thing. Ask!
Second: ask the right question at the right time! You don’t want to send a promotional message with an invitation, for example.
Third, keep putting out content with value and be consistent in your message.
Let’s do a call this weekend if you’re up for it… perhaps a lazy Sunday afternoon conversation between new friends?
The conversation via Skype
Lori — are you available?
Kevin — Hey Lori, sure!
Lori — so how long have you been on LinkedIn?
Kevin — just over a week really. I had created my account probably a year ago, but never did anything with it until now
Lori — cool. What did you think about my answers?
Kevin — I like the “keep putting out content part; and the consistency as well. The asking the right questions at the right time I am still contemplating. LOL. I do like asking questions, but I do not think I know what and when to ask sometimes.
Like I said before all this “business” stuff is very new to me. Before 2 years ago, I was a Buddhist monk living in India. So this is a different world for me
Lori — that makes sense… and it’s funny because that’s really sort of a cliché right?
Kevin — yeah
Lori — so, here’s the thing. LinkedIn is a networking event. You’ve been to those?
Kevin — yes
Lori — what do you do at networking events?
Kevin — for me, usually I sit or stand somewhere feeling awkward.
Lori — that’s cool! Here’s why LinkedIn can help you. You get to backspace!
Ok. Here’s the deal. LinkedIn is a virtual networking event. You go to meet people who you might be able to do business with, either as a customer or to find a vendor or partner. Make sense so far?
Kevin — yep
Lori — Next, when you are at a networking event, you take your cards and introduce yourself to people. If you think there’s a chance to carry the relationship past the event, you exchange cards.
Kevin — yeah, I do that. But I usually only find 1 person who I feel I can continue a relationship with.
Lori — and that’s ok; it’s one more person right? You’re still networking.
Kevin – yeah, true
Lori — ok. Now, on LinkedIn, your profile is YOU at the networking event. You get it dressed up, ready to go, put some business cards in your pocket…
In other words, you fill out your profile with the things you’d tell someone if you had the chance to say what you really wanted to.
Your summary is an introduction. “Hi, I’m Kevin and I created PhotoshopMe, a unique tool that allows the user to crowd source their Photoshop needs” – something like that.
Kevin — ok, I get that. And that actually sounds better than what I have up there
Lori — by the way, your summary isn’t horrible! Its written first person in a conversational tone… just tweak it to speak to the audience you really want to reach and include a call to action at the end.
And, in person, people usually ask the next question: how’d you think of that? what got you interested in Photoshop, or photography, or starting your own business?
So answer the questions people ask, and perhaps a couple of the ones you wish they would ask if they knew enough about you to ask intelligent questions.
You end your summary with a call to action so, if you’ve caught people’s attention, they immediately have the vital contact info they need to reach you.
Here are some great examples from more basic to complete to superb:
They might ask what you’ve done before, so you fill in your experience and education and other sections to answer that, but you do it from the perspective of what you are doing today. Don’t just fill in your resume, but show how what you’ve done is relevant to make you better at your chosen profession rather than just a historical listing of facts.
You get 2,000 characters in your summary and for each description field so it’s not like this has to be one page. You can tell the story of how you came to do what you’re doing now.
And stories inspire people and spark relationships, because now people can relate to you through your story.
Kevin — ok, I can see I need to change my profile
Lori — Here are some resources to help you. http//rocklinkedin.com. The site requires registration to access our resources page, but it includes produced instructor-led videos, eBooks, and other materials to help you “Rock LinkedIn!”
Kevin — Cool, thanks. Now I do have one question about connections. Is it best to accept and try and get anyone on as a connection (as this will get loads of connections quickly) or to try and only build connections that are in my field (being slower to build)?
Lori — That depends. would you rather be at a networking event with a few people you already know or with a lot of people you haven’t met yet but that represent new business opportunities?
Kevin — with a lot of people I haven’t met yet but that represent new business opportunities. I would feel more comfortable probably with a few people I knew, But that might not build the business we dream of
Lori — Then, when people ask you to connect, accept them for the value they might bring you rather than reject them for what you know or don’t know about them.
Kevin — ok
Lori — After all, you aren’t just accepting each person, but the network of opportunity that each person brings with them.
Kevin — true
Lori — If you ever feel uncomfortable with anyone, you can remove them later without them receiving notice that you did.
Kevin — ok, that works
Lori — In the meantime, you connect, and now you are connecting to the people they know and the people that the second line knows as well. So, your network is three levels deep: Connections connected to connections that are connected to connections.
Hope that helps! And I hope you’ll follow our company page http//www.linkedin.com/company/integrated-alliances and follow us online where you have a presence so you can stay involved in the conversation no matter where you spend your time. Here’s a place that has most of our online assets in one place http//rockstarnetworking.com… so, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Websites and blogs, etc. all with resources to help you learn.
Kevin — Cool, thanks, and I am already following your company
Lori – Thanks! Any other questions?
Kevin — I think I am following your twitter and FB as well
Lori – Cool; me too. Love your Facebook page!
Kevin — Thanks for your help. And no on other questions right now. When I do, I will ask though.
Lori – One more thing, on Facebook and twitter, follow everyone that follows you: build a stronger network everywhere you go… enjoy your afternoon!
Kevin — you too, thanks again Lori! Bye 4 now
So that was our conversation. I hope it helps you too. Are you “new” to LinkedIn? Just started using an old profile or recently set up a new one? I’d love to hear from you! What did you find easy or hard? What seemed intuitive or difficult to understand? Have a question? Leave a comment below and we’ll figure it out together.
Until then, Rock On!