“Hang on a minute. I can connect to all these dozens of people, and send them information about my company and how great we are!”
or you might be thinking,
“Hang on a minute. If I connect to all these dozens of people, they will spam me with all their sales messages!”
Linkedin isn’t about the information. It is about your reputation. Linkedin is a Reputation Network.
This is why the third part of my advice for using Linkedin properly is not called ‘spam your network’. Instead it is called:
3 – Ask for Help
If we look back to the golfers I introduced in part 1, you’ll remember that the opportunity was initiated by Golfer A asking for help. People want to help you; they don’t want to read your unsolicited sales messages. If you spam on the golf course you won’t be asked back, and if you spam on Linkedin it’s the same result.
If you look at your home page dashboard in Linkedin, and mouse over one of the status messages you’ll find it has a ‘HIDE’ button. Hold your mouse over this and you are asked, ‘hide xx from your updates’ – click on it and you receive the message ‘You will no longer receive updates from this user’.
Next time you send out a spammy sales message on Linkedin, just imagine your connections mousing over your sales status updates and clicking ‘hide’. Until they choose otherwise, which is unlikely, now they won’t receive any of your messages. Don’t be the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
Instead of committing reputational suicide on linkedin, lets remember what networking is about. Networking is Other People Helping You. (thanks Andy Lopata).
So we’re going to ask for help. Here are two simple examples of how it works.
Firstly, you can ask for help on a Status Update. I did this in February when we first started recruiting again. I shared with my network a need for a good architectural assistant, and a link to our web page with the details of the position and how to apply. The successful candidate’s CV landed in my inbox in just 4 days. He’d seen the job on an email newsletter a friend of his passed on because he lives in Ipswich. The newsletter was made by a Linkedin contact of mine who looks for requests like this in the architecture community in our region. She got some content, he got a job and we got a great assistant. Everyone wins.
And because it is a request for help you’ll find that people will pass things on to their network much more readily than a request for a new commission. Helping people feels good, especially when everyone benefits.
The second example is to use Linkedin’s Answers section. Find it in the ‘More…’ dropdown menu. Here you can see the public questions your network has posted, and you can also search every public question asked on linkedin so that you can prove your expertise by answering those that apply to you.
Last autumn I asked a question on Linkedin about a talk I was giving to the RIBA Practice Stakeholders Group. I knew very little about the audience and their understanding of the topic, and even less about the people who commissioned me and what their agenda was. So I asked my network on Linkedin and on my blog. I received offers of help by 72 people, some of them complete strangers who had been passed my request by people in their network.
The most interesting, out-of-the-blue offers came from Linkedin, which isn’t really surprising as this is precisely what Linkedin is designed to do. Professional Keynote Speakers gave me their advice. People recommended books and offered their own slide decks for me to cannibalise.
The best answer however, came through someone I only know because we had babies in the same hospital. Turns out her husband – a patent attourney – vaguely remembered a distant cousin of his working for the RIBA, and put us in touch. He didn’t even know what the RIBA was! As it happened his cousin had worked for the RIBA for ten years and knew the organization from the inside. She was able to set the precise context for my talk, and I was able to deliver a presentation at just the right tone for the audience. And all this required was for me to ask a question on Linkedin.
The reason why Linkedin works so well like this is that it acts as the glue between not just your connections and their connections on linkedin (currently around 65 million people) but between all your real life connections, and all their real life connections. If you use it properly, of course.
So here is your homework, and don’t dip out!
- Flesh out your Linkedin profile, so you can be found on google;
- Get your real life contacts on Linkedin, so that you all can benefit, and
- Start asking for Help on Linkedin, but remember no spam (or we turn the tap off).
Want to know more about Linkedin? Check out my Linkedin Delicious Links, I add new stuff regularly.
This article is one part of a presentation I gave last week at #be2campeast, Property and the Internet, at Essex County Cricket Ground. You can see the slides here: Getting Started using Linkedin Properly
Image: Link by Matti Mattila