by Jack Silverman, Director of Business Development
Andy, my coworker and Director of Client Services here at Bolin, is constantly teasing me that I’m always on LinkedIn. But he’s right. And here’s why: LinkedIn is one of the greatest professional and personal marketing tools ever invented. As the Business Development Director at Bolin, it’s become my lifeblood—one of my primary discovery tools. It’s my personal assistant.
I can’t say enough about the positive experiences I’ve had using the platform, leveraging my network of over one thousand business colleagues. I think that I’ve had great success because I’ve carefully built my network and tried not to abuse it. From the beginning, I’ve taken great care of adding connections. I will not accept just anyone nor will I approach random people. My mantra has always been, “I will connect with you if I can provide some value for you and vice versa for me.” I NEVER send a connection request without a personal note. Here’s a format that I find successful:
“I met you at (name of professional event or conference). You were in my last meeting at
(client name, etc.).”
When I get the standard LinkedIn request, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” unless I really, really know this person, I just hit delete. My advice: don’t be lazy. Spend a few online minutes getting to know a little about me. It’s much more personable and has a higher success rate.
Conversation starters and more
LinkedIn is rich in information. You can find all sorts of conversation starters for phone or in-person meetings like, “I see you play the piano.” I can turn that around to say I’ve always wanted to learn how to play Chopin and someday I’m going to start. Or, “I see you worked at X company. Did you work there when (name) worked there? He/she was a great person…” I also like to look at outside causes that I support or admire. Try saying, “I see one of your causes is helping to support Toys for Tots.” “The Agency volunteers during the holidays to collect toys for this program.”
I can also get a pretty good profile of your professional career path. It provides many clues on how to structure a conversation. How much industry experience you may have, how long you’ve been with a company, what is your level of education, what associations you belong too (that we may have in common), etc. Now some folks may think this is a bit cyber-creepy, but it’s just a streamlined way to get to know a person before meeting them. Knowledge is power and if you don’t abuse it, it can be a formidable tool.
A few more suggestions
Review your profile at least once per quarter. It’s important to keep it up-to-date as well as using relevant terms to describe your unique capabilities. Your friend Google is always trying to help you. Also, keep your alternate contact information current unless you don’t want to be found, and in that case, why are you even on LinkedIn?