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Everyone who is a successful business person at one time or another had to learn from someone else. The people who have made it big did so in a number of ways, but with the age of the internet and social media many more times the number of successful people are harnessing the power of websites to make money and to win new business. This article is all about how you can utilise the power behind LinkedIn with its over 100 million users worldwide to generate new leads, new business, and new cash flow.
50 percent of all LinkedIn users are not in the USA and it is almost entirely used by business people. It is the grown up version of Facebook and Instragram. Don’t, however, believe it is boring because of its grey overtones; LinkedIn could make you a sizeable chunk of money if you use it correctly.
May 2003 was when it all started for LinkedIn. 4,500 people signed up to the site within its first month. Impressed with the results they told colleagues and since then nearly 1 million new members per month have signed up or roughly one every single second around the world. This is a staggering number of potential new clients for your business.
So how can we use LinkedIn to win new business and build new relationships?
This is crucial. LinkedIn is all about reputation and relationships. So always complete your profile, photograph, details, everything…nothing looks more sloppy and unprofessional than an incomplete profile page. Also don’t be afraid to inject a little bit of your personality into your profile, but not too much, don’t frighten off potential clients before you’ve nailed the deal. I cannot stress the importance of having a good quality, sharply focused photograph of yourself, and not a company logo on your profile. Again, it’s all about relationships, and it’s easier to have a relationship online with someone’s face than a corporate logo. Furthermore, it has been proven that you’ll generate a higher click rate with a good photograph than without one. People like people and people like to see what the other person looks like.
If you’re new to LinkedIn the first thing you’ll need to do is to start adding contacts. The site allows to you look up people that are already online, but don’t just settle for this, be adventurous. Manual searching is probably the best way to look through the contacts of your contacts: usually a great and easy way to finding potentially lucrative new business contacts.
Size does matter in the world of LinkedIn. You need lots of contacts to be considered as an influencer and if you only have a handful of people in your network others will consider you to be somewhat small fry. So aim big, add as many contacts as you can and expand your contact list as fast and as widely as you can. This is important before you start truly starting with your open networking plan. You can also join LinkedIn groups on set subjects in much the same way as Facebook does. Like Facebook many groups will be closed initially and you may well be asked to apply for permission to join.
Once you’ve been accepted into the group, do some studying before blundering in and making a fool of yourself. Read the most read posts and study who the key influencers are within the groups. Study how language is used. Only then start chipping in with your comments and start influencing conversations. Lastly start conversations yourself and watch how your contacts react and then act accordingly. Don’t, however, get too self promotional from the get go, work up to it.
LinkedIn also has a useful section called Answers. You’re not always going to know all the answers to questions you may post but other people might within your network. You can grow your credibility here as well as adding new contacts all the time to your ever expanding network. You’ll need to devote a considerable amount of time to building your reputation here, but it will enhance your visibility considerably.
So you’ve joined LinkedIn, you’ve been steadily adding contacts, and you’ve been making slow and steady progress within the groups, this is the point where the magic starts for your business. LinkedIn’s entire purpose is to content business people with business people and that is why you’re on LinkedIn in the first place right? The site’s functionality provides the initial introductions that would take years to build conventionally or even organically in traditional business dealings.
Ask people whether or not they would like to connect to you, don’t be surprised if a number say no, it’s not obligatory to say yes to every connection request. It is also polite to ask first and that is a big yes when building relationships.
All the above is free to use, but there is another layer of LinkedIn that you can pay for. As a paying member of the site you’ll get the added benefits of InMails that are direct messages to people who are not in your network and who may be of use to your business aspirations. If you write these InMails be polite, don’t be too pushy or forceful and try and customise them. InMail receivers can mark your messages as Spam so take time writing them so that they appear to offer value to a potential new contact. Repeat Spammers will be found out and removed from LinkedIn, so take care.
So, the step by step approach to LinkedIn will see you slowly carefully building your contact list to give you credibility. Once you’re established LinkedIn can be an extremely useful tool to generate new customers for your business.