Share on LinkedIn0Share on Facebook0Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Tweet about this on Twitter

LinkedIn – The Online Networking Platform for Professionals

by

What began as a Facebook for business professionals has gained ground as a Social Networking Mecca for business professionals. With over 50 million members, LinkedIn provides an opportunity to network with professionals that you never knew existed. This could lead to leads that can be converted to customers. Alternatively one could find joint venture partners or even advisors to help grow a business. . . .

What began as a Facebook for business professionals has gained ground as a Social Networking Mecca for business professionals. With over 50 million members, LinkedIn provides an opportunity to network with professionals that you never knew existed. This could lead to leads that can be converted to customers. Alternatively one could find joint venture partners or even advisors to help grow a business.

Familiar terms on LinkedIn

Connection: Just as the name suggests, this is a person you are connected to. You can view each other’s information.

Network: All your connections

Invite: This is how you “Invite” people to join your network

Recommendations: Getting recommended by your network is a great way to establish credibility. You can get contacts who you know very well to recommend you and in turn reciprocate by recommending them as well.

Making the connections

When searching for people, the people that you see are ordered in terms of their degrees of relationships from you. You will be able to view criteria such as the company they work for, their previous company and so on.

A good place to begin looking is to try and people you know well enough, who have moved from the company they were working at. This is the company you want to do business with, but want to know more about their culture. Ask them why they decided to leave the company. This will give you an insight about how the company operates and how they treat their vendors. If the feedback shows that the company treats their vendors well then they may be worth doing business with.

You can also make some meaningful connections by examining your first level connections and requesting them for introductions to someone you would like to connect to through a LinkedIn message. When connecting to a person this way they will be your second level connection. A good idea is to first work on rekindling the relationship with a first level connection. Invest some time in them and look for an opportunity to be helpful. Most people will feel that they have a need to return the favour, and when the timing is right, they will be happy to introduce you to the decision maker that you are interested in getting touch with.

If you are a former student of a prestigious university or school, look for someone from the same school or university and try to connect with them. It is likely that they are in a position of influence and as your alma mater; they will be more willing to trust you and connect with you.

LinkedIn Groups

Another way to establish some great connections is to join a discussion group related to your industry and participate in discussions.

A LinkedIn group is an online community having a common interest. The groups are free to join, and you can choose to join up to 50 groups from a list of thousands of user-created groups for literally just about anything. Not only do these groups provide you access to connect with and contact fellow group members who could become future partners, employees, investors, customers etc. The groups’ discussion board and news sections can provide more networking opportunities, answers to your questions and insightful advice, tips and support.

LinkedIn groups are unique because they’re special contexts within the world’s largest professional network. Take full advantage of that by clicking through to the people of fellow members, sparking conversations about what they’re working on, and as relationships develop – inviting them to become connections.

Posting news is one of the best ways to participate in groups – it takes less thought and work up front than starting a discussion and groups provide an easy way to get your fellow professionals’ take on an article or blog post… or to gain additional reputation for your take. Post a couple of articles a week that catches your interest while browsing the Web, the newsletters you get, your RSS reader, your Facebook feed, or Twitter. Now that managers can add RSS feeds to their groups, suggest they include your favourite news source or your own brilliant blog.

If you don’t find any groups, you could always create one. Regular participation in LinkedIn discussions will help establish your credibility. You can ask an interesting question or share feedback. Soon you will find that your comments can turn to direct email messages and even phone calls that results in a sale, an opportunity to form a joint venture or any other business relationship.

Hot Tip:

Ask for recommendations from former bosses, partners and co-workers. These testimonials carry weight and provide comfort to prospective partners that you are trustworthy. The more people you get recommendations from, the greater the probability of people willing to join forces with you or ask for your services. Even if you don’t have a connection in a company you want to partner with, you can check out the Company page and find out who in your network is connected to the people in the company that you would like to contact.