Archive for December, 2009

How to engage your Linked-in contacts

Linked-in is the silent superstar of social media, it owns the online business connections market and it is without doubt the best online tool for relationship and reputation management.  Most people however just use it like an online rolodex and fail spectacularly to use Linked-in to engage their contacts on a deeper level.

Social media is changing the way companies communicate with customers and contacts and this has led to a plethora of social media consultancies (usually referring to themselves as gurus or experts) advising business people to set up Linked-in profiles and get as many contacts as possible.  One such agency even charges by the contact they deliver for you.  This sort of low level thinking has contributed to a lot of people getting to a 100 contacts and thinking right job done. You can almost hear the sighs of relief now that they have reached the point where they don’t need to work live a slave to look credible.

The problem is that it’s not job done its job started, to get the biggest return on investment from social media you actually have to be social!  A strange concept I know but in business contacts are nothing, relationships are everything.

In the near future people begin to look at numbers of connections, friends, followers etc in the same way as we now look at “hits” as a way of measuring a web business. Yet then as now an internet based technology has had a huge impact on business but with the wrong Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).  The amount of connections you have isn’t a KPI but the relationship value of those connections is.  The problem is that using all the social media tools in the world won’t help your business, you have to engage your clients on a deeper level than your competition or you won’t be able to compete.

Six keys to improving the relationship value of your Linked-in contacts

1. Quality not quality – First and foremost don’t ask people to link-in unless you know them and want to manage your relationships with them more effectively. Just keep telling yourself it’s a relationship game not a numbers game. At a networking event recently overheard someone say we should link-in to a man he had just met only to have the other person respond “I think we linked-in after the last chamber event”. In my view you should only Link-in to people you have worked with, done business with or know really well.

2. Update regularly – The is a twitteresk feature on Linked in called update and it asks you to post in 140 characters what you are working on – use it and use it every working day. People who visit your profile page will see that you are putting in some effort to your Linked-in page and they will respect that. Your contacts will also usually get an update email of what you are doing every week and this keeps you in touch with your most important contacts for the investment of five minutes per day.

3. Share – Using Linked-in along isn’t a social networking strategy its just one of the tools you will need. If your client’s perception of your credibility and knowledge is key to your success lawyers, accountants architects, IT sales etc then you should blog some useful tips and ideas and share it with your contacts via the update function and by via email.

4. Linked-in messages –When one of your contacts posts an update don’t just read it and think “that was interesting” drop them an email via the system and offer advice or tips, encouragement or a well done as appropriate again a few minutes a day can pay dividends.

5. Network – The most powerful thing you can do with your contacts is bring them together. Ok so some will be in different countries but 80% will be in your local area so BE SOCIAL. In the last two weeks I have held two speakeasy networking events where I have pointed at a bar and invited a dozen of my Linked-in contacts to meet me for a beer and a catch up.  As they all arrived at the same time I introduced them and there are two join ventures in the offer and five very warm sales pitches taking place next week – not only that I received several emails from people saying they were the best networking events they had ever attended.

6. Ask – this is what its all about, Linking-in to people you don’t really know, who don’t really trust you and then failing to engage them means that you have a dead list and a dead list can’t connect you to anyone.  I will bet if most people did a people search for their number one target client in their city they would find several of their connections know them but they wouldn’t have the depth of relationships that would allow them to ask for an introduction.  I am one step away from my top 20 target clients and in 80% of the cases it is one of my Linked-in recommenders that knows them.  It took me a year and I have turned down more offers to connect than I have accepted but my list of contacts is alive and kicking and every time I have asked for an introduction I get it.  Obviously no-ones profile or contact list can ever be perfect but by following the tips above you can improve the value of your Linked-in contacts significantly.

This blog is part two of my series on getting the most from Linked-in you can find part one here http://bit.ly/7JtgEV I hope it helps.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise – Be Brilliant

http://www.intelligise.co.uk

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Five ways to use Linked-in to build Trust and Reputation.

Social media is pervasive it is creating a peer to peer transparent economy where trust and reputation are becoming strongest business currency – yet a high percentage the Social Media profiles of professionals that I view are socially bankrupt.

Linked-in is the best social media platform for doing business but it is widely misunderstood.  Linked-in isn’t an online rolodex it’s a relationship and reputation management tool.

Are you one of those people with a bunch of contacts you don’t really know and an update that’s two months out of date?  Then you are actually damaging your relationships and your reputation.  You may as well go to networking events with a sign round your neck that says “I am not interested in you, I’m only here to get business”.

There are four ways to generate the levels of trust required to be successful in business nowadays and one of those is Reputation Management (RM).  In this blog I am going to focus on how to use Linked-in to build trust via reputation management.  RM is vitally important to business people where personal trust is core to doing business, sales people obviously but also for professionals like accountants, lawyers and architects.  In these professions your reputation is everything and yet these professionals are the worst at using social media to build relationships and trust

Five tips to building trust through your Linked-in profile

  1. Have a goal in mind for your Linked-in profile.  If your goal is to improve your expert positioning then focus on your qualifications, past customer recommendations and your passion for your field of work.
  2. Don’t forget the profile picture and make sure it looks like you do now.  Ideally the photo should be of you in a business situation / business dress.  Note this is different for Linked-in than Twitter or Facebook where you can be less formal and broadcast more of your personally.
  3. Know your connections; don’t accept invites from people you don’t really know.  If you were to build a contact base of 500 people how many would your really see a benefit from engaging – 150 maybe 200 at most?
  4. Update every working day of the week – how long will it take you to post 140 charter description of what you are doing today?  Look at it this way if you are a lawyer and you post an update saying that you are writing a talk on “new distance selling regulations” then you are sending a highly focussed message to your most valuable contacts that you have this expertise.  This builds trust, knowledge, referrals and don’t rule out the possibility that your phone will ring directly as a result of the update.  Here is what my profile said this morning: “Gordon is writing a blog on how to engage your Linked-in contacts – watch this space for a link this afternoon”.   Guess what it will say this afternoon?
  5. Get recommended, this is the key action that will unlock all of the trust benefits of Linked-in, but there is a problem; if your contacts don’t see that you are serious about Linked-in why should they go to the bother of writing a recommendation?  If you haven’t carried out steps 1-4 people just won’t put in the effort.

Keys to a good recommendation strategy.

Don’t wait to be asked, if you have based your contacts strategy on quality and not quantity then there should be lots of people you could recommend – be proactive.

Don’t ever offer a recommendation on the basis that they give one back just give and see what happens.

Send a request after every successfully completed piece of work and you will build up a portfolio of relevant recommendations.  “He is a good guy” isn’t worth the pixels it’s written on – recommendations need to tie into your overall goal for your linked-in profile.

Dear god, don’t tell your staff to recommend you – how sad is that! – I hate seeing a list of recommendations with no clients but lots of staff saying “he is a great boss”. My rule is 20% max from current staff and none till you have at least ten focussed ones from clients and partners.

And finally – be the sort of person that people want to recommend  – Clue – you have to be someone that people can trust

Conclusion

For professionals but especially for accountants and lawyers trying to win business without first establishing trust is like eating steak without chewing.  As social media becomes more pervasive “online reputation management” will grow as a vital source of personal trust.  So if your Linked-in profile isn’t optimised, then you are probably already loosing business and until you read this I will bet you didn’t know why.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise – Be Brilliant

Check out my Linked-in profile www.linkedin.com/in/GordonMacIntyreKemp and give me a call or drop me an email if I can be of assistance Gordon@intelligise.co.uk