April 06, 2009

How to access 1000s of new trusted contacts using Linked-In

You have often heard it said that what matters ‘is not what you know, but who you know’. Yet, few people consider themselves to be good at networking. But, social networking once the reserve of teenagers, has reached the business world providing business networking with a real shot-in-the-arm.

Everybody has heard of the 6 degrees of separation – the notion that there are only 6 people between you and anybody that you could want to contact. Now Linked-In, the professional equivalent of Facebook and Beebo, shows business people that they are better connected than they think.

Linked-In is essential for every professional – whether they want to find new customers, build their professional profile, find out about a company, recruit staff, or look for a new job. Moreover it is by-in-large free. Today it has 38 million members and growing, in over 200 countries around the world.

It enables most people to effortlessly double, triple and quadruple the number of contacts to which they have access. In fact it will quickly provide access to 1000s of new trusted contacts. I use the word 'trusted' because unlike cold calling, these people are linked to you by somebody they have worked with, studied with, or done business with in the past.

Thereby it really accelerates business development, moreover because it involves leveraging established past and present; friends, colleagues, clients, etc. it is much easier and more effective than cold calling.

Getting Started with Linked-In

Here is how it works:

1. Sign-up for free and enter your career and educational history – it is a little like preparing your CV, only that you are guided step by step online.

2. As you build your profile you will be presented with other members who have worked in the same companies and studied in the same institutions (at the same time). You can choose to link yourself to them. When you do they will receive an email asking them to accept a link from their profile to yours.

3. You can import your contact list from Outlook (or another source) to Linked-In and that will result in an even longer list of people to whom you might also be linked. Again you can select any of the automatically generated contacts and they will then receive an email requesting the link to you.

4. There are two things that determine the strength of your profile on Linked-In; how many connections (or links) you have to others, as well as how many recommendations you have received. The latter is a direct result of how many others you give recommendations to, and how many your revive in return. This aspect is pretty well controlled, before a recommendation from another appears on your profile you will get to view and approve it.

5. As seen below you will very quickly have access to thousands of new contacts via your network. Here is an example of the statistics you will be able to view, including where people in your network are located and what sectors they belong to.

6. If you want to sell to a new company, for example Company XYZ, then you can search for the company and see if there is somebody in that company that either you know directly, or that you know through somebody else. You can then view their profile and contact them by email. You can also contact a certain number of people directly even if you don’t have any links (that is part of the paid service). When you contact the person they will receive an email notification to their email inbox and can also pick up the details next time they log into Linked-In.

7. You will have both a personal and a private profile on Linked-in – that way you get to decide who can see what. For example, if somebody searches for you in Google there is a good likelihood your public profile will appear. But, some aspects of your profile can be kept private to only those that are linked to you can see.

8. You can join groups on topics that are of interest (e.g. ERP software) whereby you can share thoughts and opinions with other members. You may be interested in groups in particular that your potential customers might be interested in.

9. Put Linked-In in your internet favorites (if you use Firefox you can download an extension that integrates it with your browser’s menu) and make visiting the site a habit. It is useful to know that you can set notifications of new contacts, emails and recommendations you have received to get them all just once a week (as opposed to receiving them by email as they arrive). You can add a link back to your Linked-In profile to your email signature, your personal bio anywhere it appears on the web.

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