David Knoble, CPA, PLLC

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Using LinkedIn for Networking

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LinkedIn con­tin­ues to be the new craze of social net­work­ing, but with a unique twist.  LinkedIn is the first to require approval before some­one can link to your pro­file.  Addi­tion­ally, your pro­file includes your edu­ca­tion, work his­tory, ref­er­ences, links to your web site — in short a com­plete resume about who you are.  The ques­tion is:  how do you use LinkedIn to really begin networking?

Any­one that is good at net­work­ing skills frowns when you talk about using a com­puter.  Most will quickly tell you that the best way to net­work is face-to-face or on the phone.  I believe they are cor­rect.  How­ever, I also believe that LinkedIn pro­vides you an incred­i­ble source of peo­ple to con­nect with face-to-face, using email and on the phone.  While there are many ways you can uti­lize LinkedIn, here is what has worked well for me.

It is easy to send an invi­ta­tion to peo­ple you know well.  They will prob­a­bly accept your invi­ta­tion quickly.  Now, you think, I am linked!  You believe your net­work­ing has started.  If you agree with me, I urge you to sit down and read the rest of this article.

The peo­ple you already know well already have your skills and your busi­ness in the back of their mind.  If they meet some­one you should talk to, they will prob­a­bly get both of you in touch.  This was before they were ‘linked’ to you.  What you really want to review is who they are con­nected with.

If you are con­nected to per­son A, and they are con­nected to per­sons B, C and D then they are referred to as your sec­ond tier con­nec­tions.  These sec­ond tier con­nec­tions are what help you begin net­work­ing.  You have two steps you should perform.

  1. Send an invi­ta­tion to any sec­ond tier con­nec­tions that you already know well.  See if you can link with them.
  2. Begin to inves­ti­gate the remain­ing sec­ond tier con­nec­tions to see who you want to link with.

Do not try and review every sin­gle per­son on your sec­ond tier list.  If you are con­nected to 30 peo­ple, you may have as many as 4,000 sec­ond tier con­nec­tions.  Pick a con­tact and review your sec­ond tier con­nec­tions with them until you find 3 or 4 peo­ple you would like to con­nect with.

After you have a few peo­ple you would like to talk to, ask your con­nec­tion if they think you could ben­e­fit by talk­ing with them.  Make sure you find out some­thing about these peo­ple first.  Make sure they are in your geo­graphic loca­tion.  Make sure they have inter­ests or careers that make them a good fit for what you do.  Remem­ber, you are not look­ing for a client, you are look­ing for a refer­ral to a client.  Depend­ing on how strong your rela­tion­ship is with your con­tact, you may be able to ask for an introduction.

What you are look­ing for is a rea­son to con­tact that sec­ond tier per­son and ask for a meet­ing.  You want to get to know that per­son and maybe even link to them.  After an ini­tial cof­fee, lunch or other meet­ing, you should be able to tell of their inter­est in link­ing with you.  Pro­vided it makes sense, send them an invi­ta­tion.  You should not plan to get ‘linked’ with every sec­ond tier per­son you meet, but some will be a per­fect fit for your business.

If all goes well, you have now spent a week and have two or three new con­nec­tions.  Guess what?  As a result, you now have even more sec­ond tier con­nec­tions to review.

If you haven’t already fig­ured this out, then you soon will.  This is the power of con­nect­ing to peo­ple and learn­ing more about them.  Find ways to help other peo­ple and you will make strong connections.

What about the first com­ment we heard?  Well, we did talk with some­one face-to-face and we made a good con­nec­tion.  Not only did we get ‘linked’, but we can accom­plish this in the morn­ing early or in the evening late and keep our day­time appoint­ments.  This is where the power of a net­work­ing social web site helps.

Used prop­erly, LinkedIn can be a tremen­dous boost in your net­work­ing abil­ity.  Give it a try for a few weeks and you won’t be disappointed.

© 2009, david.knoble
by David Kno­ble, CPA, PLLC
Serv­ing Non-Profits, Busi­nesses & Indi­vid­u­als
Rock Hill, SC

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