I don’t think anyone would disagree that LinkedIn is the most powerful social media platform for business and professionals.
But if you look at how most people – even those who think of themselves as being fairly social media savvy – actually use it on a day to day basis you’ll see some huge mistakes being made time and time again. Mistakes that kill the effectiveness of the platform to attract and build relationships with clients.
Are you making these 3 killer LinkedIn® mistakes?
The first big mistake I see time and time again is writing your profile for the wrong person.
By nature of the questions it asks when you first set up your account, LinkedIn often feels like an online résumé. But for most people it absolutely shouldn’t be.
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Most of us aren’t constantly on the lookout for a new job. We’re on the lookout for new clients and business relationships.
So write your profile for the person you most want to read it – most likely a potential client.
Potential clients aren’t interested in a profile that just lists your skills and achievements like a résumé. It doesn’t matter to them that you’re a proactive high achiever who’s brought in projects on budget and managed large teams successfully. Those are all internal factors of interest to a future employer.
What clients care about is what you can do for them. What they’ll get from working with you.
So focus your profile on creating the right impression with potential clients. Talk about who you work with and the value they get from working with you. The tangible results for them and the great feedback from them you’ve had.
You can watch a short video guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile in the new format LinkedIn recently introduced here.
The second big mistake people make is lack of follow up.
The argument that commonly rages amongst LinkedIn “experts” is whether you should be an open networker and connect with lots of people, or whether you should only connect with people you know well so you can introduce/recommend them and vice versa.
I’ve seen debates on this get so heated they almost come to blows!
Yet what they all miss is that both sides repeatedly make the same mistake time and time again. They connect, but they don’t follow up.
Whether they’re connecting with a small number of people they already know or a large number of “new friends”, what most people do is hit that “Accept” button and then stop.
But what’s the point of that, other than to add number to your connection stats. If in 12 months time you spot that this person knows someone you’d like an introduction to, but you’ve not spoken to them since hitting “Accept” – what are the chances of them introducing you?
So instead, make sure that whenever you connect with someone on LinkedIn, send them a follow up message to begin building a relationship with them. Take a look at their profile and spot an area of commonality or interest to mention. if they look like they could be a potential client or a good contact, add them to your to-do list or “get back to” system for a few weeks or a month’s time to see how things are going with them. Monitor their status updates to see what’s going on in their lives and to give you another reason to keep in touch.
Then when you do need to ask a favour they’ll be much more likely to say yes.
The third and final killer error is wasting time in groups.
LinkedIn groups can be a huge time-waster. It feels like you’re working hard, but often you can spend hours reading articles and discussions, getting your own point of view across, without anything tangible coming out of it.
The truth is that some LinkedIn groups are vibrant communities where members support and add value to each other, others are tremendous time-sucks, and some are just havens for spam or “drive-by link drops” (the well meaning but ultimately destructive habit of dropping in to a group, posting a link to your latest blog post, then disappearing without engaging with the group, joining in any discussion, or commenting on anyone else’s ideas).
It absolutely is possible to get a great ROI from LinkedIn groups – but you’ve got to be very selective and manage your time well.
I recently interviewed Entrepreneur and professional speaker S Anthony Iannarino for a podcast on How to Really win business with LinkedIn groups. In the interview Anthony revealed some of his top tips which included:
1. Choose which groups you’ll participate in very carefully.
Look at the activity data in the group stats to see which ones have a high number of comments per discussion. This indicates that members are actively engaging with each other – as opposed to just creating their own discussions that no one replies to.
“Hang out” in the group to get a feel for how things are done. Is it just full of people self-promoting – or do people constructively help each other out.
2. Contribute to the community.
Once you know a group ha potential, actively contribute. Add to other people’s discussions rather than just starting your own. Search the forum for recent discussions on topics you could add helpful advice.
When you do link out to your own material (either blog posts or free reports) – make sure it’s part of the normal etiquette of the group. And best to do it as an answer to a question someone has asked so that it’s seen as a useful resource rather than just self promotion.
3. Start discussions – don’t just link drop.
If you want to link out to one of your blog posts, rather than just posting it bare, Start a discussion and include a summary of the main points, then link to it by saying “if you want to read a more in depth analysis, you can read the full blog post at…”. That way group members can engage with the content in the group itself.
4. Remember to be professional.
Some discussions on LinkedIn can get very heated, and it’s very tempting to blast away defending your point of view. Just remember why you’re on there – it’s to win clients, not win arguments.
5. Time box your use of LinkedIn.
It’s very easy to lose track of time on LinkedIn – especially if you get engaged in a heated debate. So have some dedicated time set aside for using LinkedIn and stick to it. Don’t drop in and out during the day when you’re a bit bored – you’ll end up burning up a lot of valuable time.
Fix these three big mistakes and you’ll find your time on LinkedIn is a lot more productive and you get way better results.
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