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Using LinkedIn for Business June 21, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Networking, Relationship.
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David DirksI’ll tell you flat out: I love Linkedin as a business networking tool.  Each week I devote some time to reviewing what some of my network contacts are doing and look to add additional contacts to my base.  In a few short months I’ve been able to add several hundred contacts to my LinkedIn network…and these are people that I know already.

I also see a number of people I know, people who have established businesses, using LinkedIn as well.  A few seem active and engaged with LinkedIn.  Many others seem to start and then stop.  They lose faith in the art and science of networking.  They might gather a few names but they don’t seem to be adding any contacts.  Is it because they just ran out of contacts and stopped at let say , 20?  Not likely.

It’s more likely that they just don’t invest the time that it takes to grow and engage a group of contacts.  It is often difficult to see any results as you are building your network.  Some people will stay stalled because they cannot see the value of online social media platforms like LinkedIn.  What’s the point?  How will it help them grow their business?  Will it make them money?

High performing Big Dogz, both individuals and businesses, understand the value and power of social networking sites like LinkedIn.  They get the point.  They seem to understand better than most that business networking is an investment of time that will pay off if you do it effectively.

Social media platforms like LinkedIn are another way to communicate and engage many different layers of business contacts.  Look at it this way: LinkedIn is a very efficient and effective tool for acquiring and managing business contacts on a far wider and deeper basis.

I’ve been working with LinkedIn for a few years now and I keep learning more everyday.  Here are a few things I’ve learned so far that might make your experience more fruitful:

  • Invest a consistent amount of time each week to working your LinkedIn account.  I’ve learned that investing my time in smaller doses on a consistent basis is all I need to keep my network growing and maintaining it.
  • Engage your network.  With LinkedIn, you can poll your network on any question you want.  What better way to get a read a critical issue facing your  business or industry than to ask your trusted group of network contacts?  That’s just one example of engaging your network.  Another is just updating them on a regular basis on issues or business events, ideas or needs.  Use the “What are you working on now?” section on your home page to alert/inform or ask your network for some help.
  • Keep adding new contacts each week.  One of the best ways to do that is to look at one of your contacts and see if you know anyone that’s not already in your network.  Invariably, I’ll find a few people each week and send an invitation to them.  Almost all accept and my network grows.
  • Both quality and size of network count.  LinkedIn is built on the concept of only including people you know and trust into you network.  It’s what makes LinkedIn more discerning as a social network platform than others.  But as your network grows, both the quality and size of your network give you an advantage.  It’s simple math.  Having 200 trusted and known contacts gives you greater reach and depth than having just 20.

If you are engaging your network both in giving and receiving information, ideas, etc., you’ll find over time that your network will become a contributor to your business.  You just have to stay with it and have a little faith.

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