The ‘Whys’ and ‘Wherefores’ of Using LinkedIn

Over the past year or so, we have encouraged all the members in our chapter to join LinkedIn, and almost everyone has.  Still, you might be asking yourself two questions:  “Why?”  And, “What do I do once I’m on there?”   We’ll go into more detail in a moment, but here are two quick answers as to why LinkedIn is such a necessary part of everyone’s marketing strategy:  1)  It’s FREE, and 2)  it’s the “BNI system” made visual.

We all know that each one of us has many other connections outside the chapter; we refer our contacts to each other at every possible opportunity, but we don’t really know the depth and scope of our respective contact spheres.  However, if everyone in the chapter is on LinkedIn (and actually using it), then we will be able to SEE who all of our contacts are – where they work, what they do, who THEY know, and so on.

What does that mean?  Well, for example, I might be looking through another member’s contact list, and see someone who I’ve been wanting to meet for months, but never spoke the right phrase during my Sales Manager Moment to trigger the mental connection in that member’s brain that would have led to an introduction.  Now, though, it becomes a simple matter of a quick phone call or email (or LinkedIn “Introduction”) to the member, and that introductory opportunity will be created for me.  An opportunity that, without using LinkedIn, might NEVER have arisen.

That’s a very BNI-specific example of how LinkedIn can work for you.  What are some other ways?  Well, at its heart, a LinkedIn profile is basically your resumé, online.  But it’s not just a resumé – it also represents how well you are connected in the community, literally, with each one of those connections adding weight to your claims of expertise.  (Aside:  The LinkedIn system is set up to discourage just connecting with anyone – too many rejections to your connection invitations and your profile is banned – so that makes it very easy to trust the legitimacy of everyone’s connections.)

It can also be a literal testimony to your work – you can easily request recommendations from your connections to display on your profile, and give recommendations in return.  In fact, this is a perfect opportunity for you to practice “Givers Gain”, by writing and posting recommendations for your colleagues before you ask them to do the same for you.  In addition, there is a Question & Answer section that is divided up by areas of expertise.  You can review the questions that have been posted there, and answer any you feel qualified to do so.

Why would you want to do this?  Well, that brings us to the most generic ‘why’, but also the most valuable:  to get your name out there. Even word-of-mouth referrals carry more weight if your name and/or business name are already a known quantity.  So use LinkedIn to spread the word about who you are, and what you can do.  Connect to everyone you possibly can.  Link your other social media networks so they post on your LinkedIn profile as well.  Join groups related to your profession, and contribute to their discussions.  Above all, do the best you can to provide value to others. (Givers Gain again!)  Become a valuable resource, and others will then want to connect with you, and use your services, which is the bottom line for us all.