One of the beauties of LinkedIn is that it works for both passive users and highly active users and everywhere in between, and still delivers value. This series of posts is geared toward the active end of that spectrum. I’m going to lay out a plan for daily, weekly and monthly activities that can help you get the most value out of LinkedIn.
If you’re a regular reader, or if you’ve seen my posts on the various Yahoo Groups, you know that I’m not an advocate of linking with strangers or of growing the number of people in your network just for the sake of having more people “in” your network (of course, I would contend that merely being linked to them in LinkedIn without any more substance to the relationship means they’re not really “in” your network except in the very most superficial sense).
So rather than spamming invitation requests to every person whose e-mail address you can get ahold of or contacting people whose profiles you find interesting and asking them to invite you to connect (a trend of late that I find increasingly annoying), here’s a proactive, goal-based approach designed to help you get high returns from the time you invest in LinkedIn.
- Review the previous month’s results. Did you stick to your plan? How did you do compared to the goals you set? What results did you achieve? Do you feel like you’re getting a good return on your time invested? Don’t buy into this “you have to give it several months” crap — if you follow this plan, you WILL start seeing obvious benefits within the first month.
- Reassess your goals. If you have no focus in your networking activities, your effectiveness will be minimal. Why are you networking right now? What are you trying to accomplish? Finding a job? Finding employees? Building industry contacts? Building diversity for long-term value? Meeting people in a new city where you’d like to relocate some day? Be specific. Specific gets results.
- Identify your targets. Now let’s be even more specific. Who are the kind of people you want to meet to support those goals? What industries? What specific companies? What titles? What geographic locations? What keywords? Build a list and write it down.
- Make a plan. Based on your current needs and time availability, set daily and weekly activity goals following the plan below. Set up a spreadsheet to keep track.
- Update your profile. Is everything you’re working on now accurately reflected? Is the information you’re presenting consistent with your goals?
- Upload and invite new contacts. Either upload a contact file or use the Outlook toolbar to identify new contacts and upload them. As part of the import process, you’ll be prompted to see which ones are already LinkedIn members. Invite the ones you’ve actually developed a relationship with, i.e., new clients, vendors, business associates, etc.
- Reconnect with former colleagues and classmates. There’s not a whole lot of point in doing this more often than monthly because there won’t be that many people coming on that often. You might want to reach out to people you didn’t know via an introduction request, but generally, the fact that you all both went to the same college or worked at the same company for one year, along with 20,000 other people, doesn’t warrant an actual connection invitation.
- Keep in touch. Scan through your connections. Anyone you haven’t spoken to in a while that you’d like to see how they’re doing? What are they up to? How can you be of service to them? Send them an e-mail. Make a goal to do a specific number of these every month. If you have too many to go through the whole list every month, divide it up and do a portion each month. If you can’t go through the whole list in a year, you have more connections than you can really service and it’s time to start…
- …Pruning! As you’re scanning through, if you see their name and description and still have no idea who they are, it’s definitely time to drop them from your network. If you’re not willing and able to stay in contact with them at least once a year, it might be time to drop them from your network too.
- Assess your LinkedIn activity needs. Is your account at the right level? You can switch between plans every month if you want. There’s a cost savings pre-paying for the year, but if ordinarily you’re a lighter user, but this month you need a lot more access — more search visibility, more InMail messages, etc. — then you can upgrade for the month.
You ready to get started? Work on that and I’ll be back tomorrow with weekly practices for achieving better results on LinkedIn.