When I first began my business, I would often ask successful individuals “what is the secret to your success?” The answer I most frequently received was “networking Roz, you have to build a strongnetwork.”
In fact one super successful entrepreneur passionately proclaimed that “your network is your net worth!”
Needless to say, I realized pretty quickly that without a network of sponsors, cold calling was never going to help my business get off the ground. This need to build a network is probably why the techniques from Harvey Mackay’s bestselling book, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, remain etched in my mind forever.
In today’s virtual world, networking has taken on a whole new meaning and level of importance.
With job security being a thing of the past, coupled with a business environment that is in a state of constant change, your ability to make meaningful connections as opposed to simple contacts, is not only essential, it is mandatory.
Of course, building your own strong network will require your discipline, concentrated attention and an intentional plan of action.
That is the goal of this month’s eLetter . . . to help you turn your contacts into connections, so that you will create even greater opportunities to advance your career and realize your bigger future.
The Look, Tell, Participate Approach
Having a contact, and making a connection are two very different things.
A contact is merely a name that used to be in your Rolodex, but is now a memory bit on your screen. Its value is not based on its mere existence, but on how you develop a contact into a true connection and ultimately, a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.
The great disadvantage of a LinkedIn profile is that you are not physically present. You are not there to shake the other person’s hand, ask them questions or have an opportunity to expand their perception of who you are and what you can do. You are limited by first virtual impressions.
Based on my Look, Tell, Participate approach, I will provide you with the key tips that will energize your LinkedIn profile and expand your reputation.
1. “Look” – A Picture’s Worth
1. Am I proud of my profile photo?
2. Am I making my best first impression?
3. How would viewers describe me? Successful? Polished? Professional? Engaging?
Here are a few important tips for putting your best face forward with your picture impression:
Make certain that your picture is current, not older than two years. Out-dated photos create a credibility gap.
Your headshot is your calling card. Ditch the selfie, and invest in a professional photographer.
Go for a close up and clear headshot in which you are the focal point.
Face forward or to the left (looking into your profile content).
Dress to impress. Your clothing must reflect the true image you want to portray relative to what you do.
Own your power. You are the ambassador to your Linked in profile. Be the central theme by avoiding family photos, vacation photos or photos with your pets.
Smile. Use your eyes and mouth to project warmth and excitement.
Be consistent. If you post more than one photo throughout your profile, make sure they all look like you at your best.
2. Tell – What’s Your Story?
More than likely, you are being checked out on LinkedIn by prospective recruiters, potential employers and curious customers. In this context, LinkedIn is actually a credibility yardstick that can showcase either the best or worst of who you are.
Beyond the first impressions of your picture, it is ultimately your content that will make or break your profile.
Given its influence and importance, you need to do more than list previous job experiences. You need to tell a compelling story that clearly and effectively demonstrates not only what you do but where your passions lie.
Here are a few suggestions for telling a compelling story about you:
You are more than your job title. Rather than simply putting your title or position under your name, let people know what you do in a succinct yet captivating way.
What’s your LinkedIn summary? Your goal is to intrigue and differentiate from others. Make it about your unique abilities, not about your company’s achievements.
Set the tone by opening with a quote that defines your values, or use a testimonial from a client.
When you summarize your accomplishments, be concise from the standpoint of the benefits that others have derived from your expertise.
Include images, links or supporting material (PowerPoint, Slideshare, videos, white paper, articles or any other media to expand on your story).
Be current. Replace older material with more up-to-date information.
3. Participate – Get In The Game!
Not that long ago, I read an article by Randall Craig, a cherished friend and an expert who speaks on Social Media Strategy, Social Media Risks and Networking. The article titled Eyeballs and Friends: A Social Media Crash?, was about his “anyone-in strategy” for LinkedIn.
Randall believes that people on LinkedIn should be open to accepting more invitations to connect than they currently do. His reasoning is that the larger your network, the closer you are to meaningful introductions.
While it is certainly important to be discerning about accepting invitations to connect, the underlying message is that you have to be an active participant in the development of your social circle or network.
The following tips will help you to step up both your game and presence:
Join targeted LinkedIn groups and then get involved in group discussions. Groups provide an ideal way to interact on a one-to-many basis. Another advantage of group participation is that it enables you to bypass the need to be a first degree connection in order to message someone.
Utilize LinkedIn’s blogging platform to post articles and then share far and wide both within the network itself, as well as on other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Here is the link to one of my articles How To Build A Winning Relationship With Your Boss, which was read by more than 281,000 people on LinkedIn Pulse.
Like and share relevant updates of your contacts, as well as comment on them. In more cases than not, they will reciprocate by liking and sharing your updates.
Personalize all contact requests by explaining why you want to connect.
Increase your contacts to over 500 as this indicates you are well connected.
Avoid massive LinkedIn mailings such as holiday greeting cards or generic messaging as they can be both intrusive and annoying. The more personal the connection, the deeper the connection becomes.
Create a LinkedIn group of your own based on a relevant industry related topic. This will help you to use this group to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, and build a larger community of supporters.
It’s What You Put In
LinkedIn is an ideal professional network through which you will find new clients and new career opportunities.
However, and like everything in life, what you get out of any activity is ultimately “linked” to what you put into it. The key is to make certain that what you are putting in is going to have a positive impact and lasting outcome.
Looking forward to your LinkedIn invitation and wishing you a great start to 2017,