Years ago I worked for a large non-profit organization and was invited to attend a major donor event. Before the event, the Vice President of Major Giving took our team aside and gave us a lesson about working the room. She had a list of all the attendees and told us specifically who to look for, what to say and why. Each of us worked the room – on a mission to thank the donors for their generosity and appeal to their sense of giving to illicit more money for the great work the organization was doing. It’s no surprise, that the event was amazingly successful.
Flash forward to the dare I say hundreds of networking events I have attended, either as a guest or a host, and am often surprised how little hosts and attendees alike venture out from their own acquaintances. The reality is that so few people actually network at a networking event. Just think of all the lost opportunities!
I find that the same thing is true online, too. How often do you connect with someone online after an in-person meeting and fail to follow-up? Seriously #fail. If each one of you don’t raise your hands, you aren’t telling the truth. I don’t always follow-up and I am the one on my soap box.
Here are four tips to improve your networking returns using LinkedIn.
1. Once you have connected on LinkedIn, use the NOTE field in the RELATIONSHIP tab to write a brief introductory paragraph about your new connection.
2. Search your connections on LinkedIn and see if there is anyone you can introduce to your new networking partner, be it potential customer or another networking partner. After all, if you want to get referrals from your networking partners, start by giving them.
3. If they are available to you, search your new connection’s connections by clicking on the number of connections they have near their profile picture, and then refine the list by location, title, industry or other keyword.
4. Armed with a list of potential connections, ask your connection for specific introductions to their network, including a brief paragraph about the value that you offer to businesses.
Networking on LinkedIn is not that difficult. You do have to put some time into it, but that time can prove to be oh so valuable.
So start with these 4 tips and happy networking!