I’m speaking at an upcoming Leeds Mencap Business Networking Event (and breakfast!) on 8th May, sharing tips on how to use LinkedIn to generate new opportunities and business. The ‘networking’ element of the event got me thinking: I am a seasoned networker, fairly accustomed to meeting new people and striking up conversations – how daunting events must be for those making their networking debut!
My advice? Do your homework and get regularly networking on LinkedIn before interacting in person.
We can be so focused on the scary aspect of meeting new people that we can often neglect our existing network. Taking the time to develop the relationships with the people we are already connecting to on LinkedIn can be hugely beneficial.
If you remain front-of-mind of people in your network who knows? They are more likely to refer you to people in their network who they believe could benefit from your service, skills or expertise. They may even inspire you or help you out with a professional dilemma.
The first step to reconnecting with existing connections is to utilise LinkedIn Search to rediscover former colleagues, clients, or even friends whom you attended university or a training course with. LinkedIn’s handy search filters allow you to narrow your search by location and company, making it an easy process.
To bridge the gap between “LinkedIn Stalking” and proactive LinkedIn engaging and relationship building you need to interact. But where do you start?
A simple and fast way to engage with your connections is to comment on posts that pique your interest as the posts your connections share and publish appear in your LinkedIn feed. More often than not, your input will spark a conversation or debate and your connections will appreciate your opinion and insight. The more consistently you engage with other posts, the more you cement yourself as an active LinkedIn user worthy of building a relationship with.
Another tactic is to pose a question to your network whenever you, yourself publish articles or posts on LinkedIn. Your network will like that you value their opinion and are more likely to respond if you directly invite engagement.
If your content is original, well-researched and brings some new and interesting insights to the table, people will also be more inclined to leave comments.
Back in March, LinkedIn updated the ‘Who’s Viewed Your Profile” page by bringing back functionalities that provide you with an insight into who had visited your profile over time – all at a quick glance.
If someone has viewed your profile, chances are they are open to reconnecting – sending them a personalised message asking about the work they do or if they are up for meeting over a coffee is always a good move at this stage.
If you have been consistently engaging with your network on LinkedIn, trust me, meeting your connections in person at networking events and conferences will seem much less daunting; it’s simply a continuation of your discussions from on-screen to the real world!
By keeping an eye on your LinkedIn feed, you will be well aware of the news and developments occurring in your industry and up-to-date with the activities of your connections and know if they have started a new job, project or achieved something great recently. All of this means you are armed with talking points to break the ice at networking events.
Bonus tip: I recently shared a video about how networking on LinkedIn should be very much like face-to-face networking. People often forget their Ps & Qs, manners and courtesy when interacting on social media, especially LinkedIn. You would treat people you meet at networking events with respect, so why treat them any different on LinkedIn?
If you would like further advice on how to effectively network and engage on LinkedIn, get in touch – I’d love to help!
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