Whether you recognise it or not, all successful organisations regardless of what they do or sell have one thing in common: their owners, senior management and front line staff know how to build and maintain relationships. Without strong relationships, it is impossible to have success in business.
We’ve all heard it said, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” But what we should be thinking is: “It’s not who you know, but who knows you.”
In fact, I would go as far as to say, “It’s not who you call, but who calls you.”
And thanks to LinkedIn’s powerful platform, reaching out and building your network has never been easier with over 225 million professionals now on LinkedIn. This extremely effective yet largely underutilized resource can become one of the most powerful marketing channels within your business if properly executed, regardless of industry.
With one click of a button you can connect with millions of prospective customers, locate potential partners to grow your organization, connect with the media to build your personal and company brand and even hire new staff. Best of all, every connection you make is targeted.
To compete in a business environment which ever changes at breakneck speed, learning and implementing cutting edge sales and marketing strategies is critical to business success. This is not a choice; it is a necessity if you are to stay relevant.
Gone are the days of spending countless hours implementing strategies to get in front of key decision makers for your product or service. LinkedIn allows you to search, connect and develop relationships in real time with anyone around the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The possibilities excite me just writing about it. Take a moment now, stop and think about the opportunities this creates for you and your organization. The ‘recruitment’ line can be virtually eliminated from your budget when you use LinkedIn’s powerful recruitment features to search, find and connect with talent all over the world.
No longer will too much of your valuable time be spent travelling to networking functions in the hope of making a worthwhile contact. With LinkedIn you can make hundreds of targeted professional connections every week.
With little to no training available on the effective use of LinkedIn to grow your business, I am excited to be a contributor within this book and share with you the key success factors revealed from my own experience of using this remarkable platform.
Whether you are a complete rookie, have an account which lies dormant or would like to further enhance your LinkedIn prowess, here are my top 4 tips in order to plan, connect and ultimately profit through LinkedIn.
1) Create a Compelling LinkedIn Profile
First and foremost you NEED a compelling LinkedIn profile. In fact if you are not on LinkedIn, I recommend you stop everything you’re doing right now and establish yourself online.
Your profile is one of, if not THE most important aspects of building your personal and professional network. Unlike 5-10 years ago, nowadays people buy into you before they ever look into your company, let alone your product.
“We are CEO’s of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” –Tom Peters
Social media is very different to other forms of marketing you may have tried in the past. Promoting the benefits of your product and what your company can do for them does not work in this day and age. The overt brand plug is something that is, and should be, left in the past.
Whether your aim is to connect with journalists, potential partners or new clients, always look to sell your personal brand before discussing what your company does.
Personal branding continues to grow in importance. Today you can barely go online without reading about it. We are now at a point where most professionals and business owners really need to dedicate time and effort to strengthening their own brands as a part of their daily routine.
With business becoming ever more competitive, your best way to stay ahead of the pack is to stand out amongst your peers by presenting a unique personal brand. In the end it’s all about what you are known for. Others should be able to say what your unique promise of value is once they see you or your name.
On LinkedIn your first impression can be your best or your last; make it last long. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1) Ensure your profile is 100% complete by going through the LinkedIn step-by-step user guide. A text image of the status will usually be displayed at the top of your profile
2) Have a professional photo displayed for your profile picture. Generally if your photo is not taken by a professional photographer then it shouldn’t be on your profile page
3) Provide a business email address rather than a personal account you may have with Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail.
4) Have a minimum of 30 recommendations written from past and present clients to establish credibility and experience in your field of trade.
5) Upgrade your account to the “Premium” version. This shows the level of seriousness you have toward your LinkedIn presence.
6) Be proactive in building your network. Demonstrating you have a large network builds credibility, trust and longevity.
7) Write your profile in the third person perspective to showcase authority and communicate a powerful presence.
8) Personalize your public profile URL with your name, you look more professional plus it will help with search rankings on Google
9) Ensure your brand message is consistent throughout your entire profile.
2) Design a Plan
Once you have completed your profile, step two is all about creating a plan. I am sure you have heard the saying: “In life people don’t plan to fail they fail to plan.” Well business is no different. Planning gives you a sense of purpose and direction.
Building your connections for the sake of having a large following is not a sound strategy if you want to effectively grow your business using LinkedIn. Every connection needs to be related to your goals and objectives in business both now and in the future.
Before growing your network on LinkedIn take a step back and think about some of the goals you would like to achieve within your business over the next year. Break this down into the goals you would like to achieve within your current role over the next 3, 6 and 12 months. With these goals in mind then think about who you need to connect with in order to help you achieve those goals.
From failing in his first four businesses to building and exiting multiple successful start up ventures, Alex Pirouz is the business advisor whom CEO’s, professors, entrepreneurs, business owners and government organisations consistently turn to in order to start, grow and exit successful businesses.
Alex’s work has been featured in over 50 media publications including: Forbes, Inc, Sunrise, SMH, Channel 10, The Age, Yahoo 7 and Smart Company. He also currently writes for several business publications. As a sought after speaker, Alex has presented at universities, movie premiers and blue chip companies right across Australia.
“Alex has a wealth of knowledge both in business formation and development. As a serial entrepreneur his passion for growing businesses and sharing that experience with others goes unmatched.” –Dr Viet Le, Lecturer at Swinburne University.
An active philanthropist, Alex has contributed to many social causes including: Mission Australia, Waverley Council, Junior Chamber International, Parramatta Council and the Club Kidpreneur Foundation.
In recognition of his achievements Alex was nominated for Australian of the Year in both 2007 and 2008. He has authored his own book “Unlock The Passion Within You” and has been featured in books such as: “Getting Your Business LinkedIn” and “How to Start A Business With Little Or No Money“.
Alex was one of 4 judges for the “Screw Business As Usual 2012 Competition” held at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa and is a regular mentor to entrepreneurs enrolled there.
This is a snippet from a chapter taken from the social media business guide, The Big Social Media Book. Available from Amazon.
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