11 Ways To Maximize Your LinkedIn Experience

by Paul Castain on May 15, 2013

1)    Invitation Templates . . . don’t use them! You’re better than that! Nothing says “I couldn’t be bothered taking 10 seconds to write you a personal message” more than those boring templates. Want to stand out? Don’t do what everyone else is doing.

2)    Avoid “IDK’s” “IDK” stands for “I don’t know” When someone hits that, in response to your invite,  you get on Linkedin’s watch list. Get enough of them and they ship you off to the Gulag. Not quite, but they do get pissed and send you a snotgram warning you that  if it continues you lose your ability to invite people to your network. Here’s how you limit the probability of an “IDK”  First, don’t send that crappy templated invite I mentioned above. Next, put this amazing line in your invite: “Should you chose not to connect, no worries, simply ignore this message instead of selecting that dreaded I don’t know button”

3)    Don’t just accept invites . . . respond to them! A simple “I would be honored to connect with you Paul and appreciate the invite” helps you to stand out from all those who simply leave it at accepting. This is all about connecting. Let’s make a note to keep that philosophy front and center!

Note: When I accept an invite, I also include links to the other social networks where we can connect. Why? For starters, they might not be that active on LinkedIn but really active on another network. Why limit possibilities? Also, in any relationship there’s more than one place where you hang out together. I might see a completely different side of someone on Twitter or Facebook than I would see if I limited things to just LinkedIn. They also get to see different sides of me too! For a copy of the letter I send, email me paul@yoursalesplaybook.com

4)    Status Updates: Use them! Make sure you stay on your network’s radar screen by updating daily. Do include a helpful tip, an inspiring quote, a link to a useful article, something funny etc. Oh, and make sure it isn’t always a “me” centered comment . . . that tends to get old fast!

5)    Your Network’s Status Updates: Everyone has a story and wants to be heard. With business moving at the speed of light, our own individuality is often “lost in the sauce” Your network’s status updates are a golden opportunity for you to acknowledge and validate others.

Note: Connect with recruiters and share the jobs they post in your status update. I’m sure there’s someone in your network who’d really appreciate that!

6)    Take on a “Go Giver” mentality. Be willing to give, upfront and without keeping a scorecard. You can accomplish this by taking on the role of “matchmaker” and introducing people within your network. Give your advice freely, offer resources, mention cool books, websites, etc. I guarantee you that when you help enough other people, there is a natural tendency for them to want to help you in return.

Note: My first status update, each day is a simple “Good morning! How can I help someone today?” I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s not just an invitation for others to ask me for help, it’s a reminder I have in place to keep me focused on serving and not selling!

7)    Join The Right Groups!

There are 5 types of groups that I recommend

–       Industry Groups (don’t over indulge) . Always good to know what’s going on, perhaps you want to bounce things off of peers etc. Just know that at times, this can be like that familiar face you cling to at a networking event. It’s safe and can become a convenient excuse for you not to branch out. Don’t spend all your time here!

–       Vertical Groups. A Vertical Group is an industry that you are targeting. For example: If I am targeting IT, I would want to join a group from that industry.  Doing so helps me spot the “hot topics”, learn the lingo, identify influencers, spot potential “triggers” that I can leverage to secure an appointment/make a sale etc.

–       Local Groups & Groups In Areas You Want To Build Up. For example, I live in NY so it would probably make sense that I belong to a few local groups. At the same time, I travel quite a bit to Houston, hence my membership in the InHouston group. Easy enough!

–       Professional Groups That Help You Hone Your Craft. As an aspiring sales rock star I belong to numerous sales groups, my recruiter friends belong to recruiting and HR related groups. Make sure you surround yourself with other professionals in your chosen line of work! Just be careful that you don’t spend all your time there.

–       Parallel Groups: These are groups that share the same target audience as you but are in different industries. Example:  I own a sales training business, so I network with recruiters who place high level senior sales leaders. I benefit from this because now I have a newly anointed sales maverick who is typically open to a new training initiative. My recruiter friends benefit because I know sales leaders who need talented sales rock stars. You can do the same in building your network through the various parallel groups!

Note: If you’d like to know how you can utilize LinkedIn groups to sell more, click here for a free, prerecorded sales lesson. You’re welcome.

8)    Participate! Can’t hear me? Let me say that one louder PARTICIPATE! Oh, and just for the heck of it, participate! If all you are going to do is show up, collect connections and sit on the sidelines, please quit now! You will fail and write Linkedin off as a huge waste in the process! You need to participate in group discussions. Add your 2 cents, start a discussion of your own. Doing so makes you visible and helps you stand out from the masses. You will learn a thing or two and get this . . . meet people who like the way you think!

9)    Understand that the key to “Social Networking” is to be (get this) SOCIAL. To do this you have to be willing to do more than collect connections. You need to validate others, comment, share and most of all interact and not broadcast and spew “stuff” all the time.

Super Important: Run away (really fast) from anyone who tells you this is about building a massive network! It isn’t! It’s about interacting with your network. Now if you can do both . . . more power to ya dude. I’ll take “connecting” over “collecting” any day and so far my accountant agrees!

10) Move Your Connections Off The Computer Screen To Real Time! Having 2,000 connections is absolutely meaningless . . . until you do something with them! Make it your mission to connect “live” with at least 3 people each week from your network. I offer step, by step details in this free report.

11)  Repeat After Me . . . Patience! Linkedin should not be embraced as a short term strategy. Think I’m kidding? Disagree with me? Watch how fast you’ll think Linkedin sucks when you try to rush something that experts call “Trust”. That’s what this is really about. Its not just about my network and your network. Its not just the old, “it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you”. Its about creating enough trust to move to a next step. When does that happen? The answer is simple, it happens when it happens. Patience grasshopper!

So there you have it. 11 of the simplest, easiest things to apply to make your Linkedin experience more productive!

I help individuals and organizations sell more. Click here to learn how!

  • These are all great, Paul, and it’s evident that you practice what you preach. I especially appreciate #3 and #6. I also try to respond to folks’ invitations to connect. Not every single time, but most of the time! Your suggestion to also show other connection opportunities seems like a no-brainer, but something I just hadn’t considered doing on a regular basis.

    And with having a Go-Giver mentality. Yes, that truly rocks! You’ve inspired me personally in a lot of ways with your first update of the day. Thank you again!

    See you on the interwebs!

  • I really appreciate that Sean!

    Thanks man!

  • Jon,

    I’ve made lots of mistakes on my LinkedIn journey.

    Sorry for the confusion on #8 I meant to say “participate” or then again, maybe I meant to say “participate” 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by and have a great evening!

  • Melissa Sienicki

    These are brilliant tips, and I will definitely be passing them around to other people in my company. I also love that you link back to other sessions or reports so that we can get a more detailed look at a particular tip. Thank you!

  • Thanks Melissa!

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