Once upon a time when the animals could speak, lived in magic forests and ate little girls with red riding hoods, no one had heard about the internet, let alone LinkedIn. All foresters were still using their filofaxes for keeping the names, addresses and facts on all people they saved. Snow White was under the W and Little Red Riding Hood under the R. Tom Thumb had never been saved yet, but was under the P of ‘prospects’.
Many manuals and webinars exist that can teach a forester about LinkedIn and they will take him far. But maybe further than he needs to get. They’ll tell him about recruiting and making sales using the tool. It’s however very important to learn to walk before wanting to run.
The sublimation business is an interesting one with many markets and also many sidetracks. Being in this business brings you in contact with many people. Some of them are interesting for you now, but others can be later. Without being an expert, LinkedIn can help you keep in touch and ‘store’ the potential ones.
3 tips I would give to anyone new on LinkedIn – you’ll soon notice it becomes an addiction – but a healthy one!
- Take care of your profile:
Turn it around: if someone who doesn’t have a (decent) image and who’s not showing any information wants to connect with you, are you tempted to accept? We want to know the people we’re dealing with and that goes both ways.
- choose a good professional picture, no holiday, kids or drinks ought to be in it, just you, looking friendly.
- Pick a title and company: you can be proud of the fact that you own your company, but ‘Snow White, owner’ just doesn’t satisfy anyone’s curiosity.
- The more complete your profile is, the better. As a beginner on LinkedIn you might not be worried about it, but you’ll start to be when you want others to look for you and find you. If our forester is looking for a new forest, one that happens to have a lot of fairy tale creatures going missing, it’s very interesting when he mentions he rescued both Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White.
- Build your audience:
You don’t need to have thousands of contacts, but as a business man/woman you want more than 31. There’s some good news: after 500 LinkedIn stops counting and you get the 500+ status.
When looking for people to connect with, start with your colleagues or competitors (if you’re on a friendly base, because they might be reading this post and know what you’re up to). Also think about people you used to work with. Even family and friends are nice to get your number up. (be careful about aunts who call themselves head of their handicraft group – if you have too many of these, they might not be so good for your credibility)
- Once you’re connected to them – you might need to wait until they accept you – it gets more interesting. Now you can have a look at the people they are connected to. This can be interesting in two ways:
- These are people you know too and you wouldn’t have thought about looking for them, but now they are just within reach.
- These are people you might not know personally but want to get to know – this is why it’s interesting to be connected with people working for companies like your own. If there is a possibility they know your company, or if your profile is complete, you can ask them to connect. If they have a look at your profile and find the synergy, they will accept.
- Don’t only look for people in the same type of business as your own. Have you been in contact with a magazine? Look for the editor. Have you dealt with a freight forwarder for a trade show? Look for your contact person. Have you taken pictures for an architect? Look for the owner of the building. You might need to introduce yourself, but you will build a heterogeneous network this way.
- Start to use your LinkedIn!
If you followed step one and two, there’s nothing more you need to start using your LinkedIn. Post about what your company is doing, which shows you’re attending and which projects you’re working on. Or, if you’re in need of info: ask for it! Your network has possibly the information you need, and – double the points! – as they are in your business, they even perfectly understand your needs!
Let me give you an example: I recently launched a post about special designs for the Universal Woods booth at FESPA. I got them, thanks to a UK contact that exactly knew what I was looking for.
The fact is, with LinkedIn, never let anyone tell you they’re better in it than you are. If you use it for your purposes and you get the results you expect, you’re doing a very good job. Only the top of the LinkedIn iceberg are users that can be posh about it because they are probably using the tool better than most of the others are.
Another fact is that, if you’re not a frequent user, there probably are features that could come in handy for you. That’s why I’d like to suggest you work on the first two tips above and force yourself to once in a while do the third.
Connect to me and have a stroll around my contacts. Let’s see how many people we have in common.
Carolyn Krekels is jr Marketing Manager at Universal Woods EMEA, in Schelle, Belgium. She has been taking care of the EMEA marketing for the Universal Woods products for 9 years so far, first working for the EMEA distribution partner of Universal Woods. In 2012 she joined the Universal Woods EMEA team. In Carolyn’s posts, she will give you insight in the marketing actions organised by Universal Woods EMEA and can give you useful hands-on tips on how to bring your product to the market. Contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org