Using LinkedIn to grow your influence
You have grown your LinkedIn network to more than 500 connections and belong to groups where members share common interests. Now, all you need to do is to post your blog each week and ‘bam’ new clients will come flooding your way.
Well, it’s not that simple. The transparency of social media means it’s just that – transparent. LinkedIn members can see a blatant plug in a millisecond. So, how do you use LinkedIn for best effect, without sounding like a car salesman?
Understand your medium
LinkedIn is a professional, business network. Members join for the purpose of business development; creating and maintaining their network, and keeping up-to-date with general ‘goings on’.
LinkedIn Groups can be approached as a professional development and insight tool. Their purpose is to develop rich discussion around new insights, occurrences and trends relating to a specific topic, industry or area of interest. They are a place to seek feedback, confirmation and a ‘heads up’ from other business people. Often, without moderation, they fall into a pit of self-promotion and members lose interest and benefit.
The reason why Groups can spiral into an advertising space is that they are also a place to interact with your target market. Careful selection of the right group can mean that you are interacting with pre-qualified leads. So, with this caution in mind, proceed with intention.
Start at the beginning, with the end in sight
What is the outcome you want to achieve from this marketing channel?
LinkedIn is a great tool to increase your individual connections, become a person of influence in your field, keep contacts updated, support an association or interest, and even support a key client.
Whatever your goal – and it may be a combination of any of these – you’ll also need to consider how you are going to measure your success. Will it be by the number of new contacts, your ranking in group discussions, the number of posts you make, the level of engagement from each post? By measuring your success, you will be able to identify what action brings its rewards.
So, what actions do I need to take to increase my influence?
Think about how you increase your influence in your every day business activities. You likely spend time supporting clients and colleagues by providing advice, sharing your opinion and insights, educating them in areas that you are the expert. You probably ask questions and involve them in discussions. You are likely to work on keeping in touch and building relationships.
Well, LinkedIn Groups can be approached in a similar way.
- Define your space. If you are to become a thought leader of influence, you can’t be all things to all people. Be clear on your purpose and use this to determine what groups to participate in and what conversations to become involved with.
- Invest time. Actually read and pay attention to the group’s discussion. If you have an opinion, share it. If you find something interesting, ‘like’ it. Regularly ‘check-in’ to the group to see what’s happening.
- Make sure conversation is two way – from you to the group and the group to you. Share thoughts on other member posts and ideas, as well as contributing your own.
- Build credibility. Providing relevant and actionable insights and advice will make your contribution to the group useful. Don’t act as a ‘know it all’; be humble. Seek, listen to and respond to feedback. Acknowledge and address the issues raised.
- Build personal connections. The Group provides an ideal way to build relationships. Make sure to personally invite specific contributors, thought leaders and target clients to connect to your LinkedIn network.
- Keep away from the blatant plug and spam. Should you create a relationship with a group member via your discussion, do not pitch yourself to the group. Pursuing the business development opportunity should be done privately, not on display. Invite them to connect with you and join your personal network, then proceed directly.
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