How I Made LinkedIn Infinitely More Useful

LinkedIn is a great relational tool. I’ve been using it since June of 2009 and it’s certainly takes communication to a whole new level. In my opinion, it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.

For those who still ask: What is LinkedIn? This says it best:

LinkedIn strengthens and extends your existing network of trusted contacts.

LinkedIn requires very little time (if you have a strategy). And since it’s here to stay I catalogued three specific ways of how I made LinkedIn infinitely more useful.

1. Personal Messages. I never ever send a “mass” email. Never! I take the time to personalize EVERY message.

Why?

Because I’m well aware that free marketing exists in its most free state: email, which is far more than a free message with free postage. Email is the most valuable of all computer applications. To cash in on LinkedIn, you must be in close touch with your connections.

This works when there is trust. When it becomes just another form of spam (violating people’s trust), it fails to be effective.

Action Step: Once you start to get more active on LinkedIn, make it a habit to reach out to five connections each week with the sole purpose of saying hi, thank you, I see you got a promotion, wonder what you’ve been working on, etc.

2. Practice Gratitude. Some of my connections wonder why I thank people for their likes on my status updates – which in reality, is their vote of confidence. 

It’s simple! I’m practicing the attitude of gratitude.

I fully understand, that in a noisy world “attention” is worth quite a bit, and ought to be cherished. That all media is now optional – no one is going to look at my LinkedIn status update or open my LinkedIn email unless they want to.

Every interaction comes with a cost. No, not in dollars, but in something worth even more: the attention of the person you’re interacting with.

And I’m very grateful for that.

Action Step: Start practicing gratitude by occasionally thanking others for their comments and votes of confidence. Take advantage of every touch point you have.

3. Provide Value, Share, Help and Inform. This is really were my big shift in using LinkedIn has occurred.

I see LinkedIn as a relational tool not transactional tool. Contrary to what many think, LinkedIn rewards:

  1. Generosity;
  2. Other-centeredness; and
  3. Helpfulness

In fact, effective networking starts with those components above and with my focus being there, I continue to see LinkedIn being a solid way to build my network and generate leads.

Action Step: Start joining LinkedIn interest groups and implementing those four networking tactics. For me, LinkedIn groups are the closest thing to the proven offline networking groups that exists online today. Groups can give you access to people and discussions related to an industry, topic or even geographic region.

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the marketing consultant to call when you want SALES … not just words.. He is also an advisor and featured marketing contributor to American Express Open Forum and has been named a marketing thought leader for small businesses.

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