Guest Blog Post feature is a new idea we are trying to give all of our members an opportunity to share an article on theBrokerList blog. Since our project is open to the public via online search, writing a blog article about an area of expertise is a great way to brand yourself and your firm. Thanks to Michael Bull for providing this post.
Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate that is faster than two new members per second. While LinkedIn may not be as popular as Facebook and Twitter for personal use, it is perhaps the most powerful social networking tool for business use.
Guests I interviewed on the “Commercial Real Estate Show” shared those observations in an enlightening look at the benefits and best practices for the social media site. Among other topics we discussed: perfecting a profile page, accepting connections, asking for recommendations, and joining groups.
With more than 150 million members worldwide, including executives from every Fortune 500 company, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.
LinkedIn offers a “very targeted professional networking site,” said Neal Schaffer, president of WindMill Marketing and author of “Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing.” “It’s targeted on decision makers and individuals with a high annual household income … I think it’s a tremendous resource that has really gone under the radar.”
A person’s LinkedIn profile page should feature a photo to establish legitimacy with other users, and the 200-character headline next to the picture needs to brand the person in a way that makes him or her stand out from competitors, Schaffer added.
Having recommendations on a profile page also makes a user more credible, and obtaining a recommendation can be as simple as asking, guests said. “On LinkedIn, everyone’s looking for recommendations, so if you ask for one, nine times out of 10, you’ll get it,” said Les Adkins, CEO of Orange SMS. “But only ask the people that you’re also willing to give a recommendation for.”
In the Experience section of the profile page, a user should go all the way back to high school, Schaffer advised. Doing so creates more keywords by which people can find a user and thereby increases the pool of potential connections, he added.
I think decisions about who you connect with on LinkedIn should be based on your particular business and mission. Think about the results you are looking for and what connections are appropriate on LinkedIn. I am an open networker on LinkedIn and accept most connection requests.
My guests suggested that users should be open to accepting as many connection requests as possible. The consensus was that if they are real and have a photo, they will connect, although Neal added that does not mean he will introduce or recommend someone he does not know. He said a connection is not “BFF status.”
“The more connections you have, the more times you’re going to appear as a second-degree connection or a third-degree [connection] and the more approachable you’re going to be and the more you’re going to be able to approach others,” Schaffer said.
New Tools – Old Rules
When requesting introductions to 2nd and 3rd degree connections from your first degree connections, Neal said, repeat after me, “New tools – old rules.” He actually said to pick up the phone and call your first connection and ask for the introduction. It was refreshing to hear a social media expert reminding us what the box with the little buttons on our desks will do for our business.
Joining LinkedIn groups can be a particularly effective tool and the guests had some useful tips. “Read the discussions. Don’t immediately jump in,” Adkins said. “And then, don’t create your own discussions right away. Answer questions and add value to the conversations that are currently going. That will get you a lot further as a member of the group than” immediately touting what you can do for people.
Pay attention to the group rules and etiquette. For example, most groups frown on touting your wares by promoting properties and services. They are set up for discussions which build trust and relationships that may lead to business. However there are some groups set up for posting properties and can be a good place to find opportunities and market properties.
Another tip on groups is to consider your mission and your customer, client or vertical market when making choices of which groups to join and be active in. If your mission is to build trust with potential customers and most of your work is with local businesses, you may want to be more active with local groups where your customers are located rather than national peer groups.
Social media is increasingly a better place every day for professionals to build influence and trust. LinkedIn is considered by many to be better suited for business than the other social media sites, so it may be prudent to explore LinkedIn even further. You’re invited to hear the full show at this link, Commercial Real Estate Show.
Enjoy and prosper.