Rule number one for any database: it goes bad over time

 

And at its core, LinkedIn is a database

Today’s post starts in the old paper catalog days, ventures more into the email database realm, but come back to LinkedIn, so stick with me for a couple minutes. 

My first job in high tech sales was selling the company’s low end products – those under $1200 – to catalog companies. This was 1985, and there were maybe twenty big ones specializing in datacom and telecom products. I would typically be allotted a quarter, a third or half a page for a photo of the product and the accompanying copy. 

I learned a lot about the catalog business (these were my customers after all) and one of the basic principles was that their mail lists “went bad” at the rate of two percent every month. Every month two percent of the people on the mail list would change companies, jobs or addresses so that a catalog was undeliverable. If a catalog company had a hundred thousand people on their mail list, that’s two thousand people that disappeared every month, and sending two thousand catalogs out that were not going to generate any revenue was something these companies wanted to avoid. 

So imagine my surprise when I was reading a post on Hubspot’s blog and they said statistics show that 22.5% of email databases go bad every year. Things haven’t changed much in 35 years!

So what does this have to do with LinkedIn? Just this: 

LinkedIn is a database that updates itself.

When someone changes jobs, one of the first things they do is change their LinkedIn profile (if this wasn’t the case you wouldn’t see recruiters paying eight thousand a year for access to LinkedIn). 

This is one of the great things I love about LinkedIn as a database. It is the most up to date one there is. This is the jumping off point for all my searches. 

Developing Your LinkedIn Strategy

What’s holding you back from getting the results you want out of LinkedIn?

I am going to talk here about how to figure out what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t. There are four steps, but this won’t take long.

Understand what LinkedIn is

LinkedIn is a database of 550 million people and 19 million companies. Embedded in that database is an active social network of maybe 50 to 60 million people who use it once a week or more often. Understanding these figures is critical to using LinkedIn effectively.

Understand the 7 basic “things” you can do on LinkedIn

  • Use your profile as a reference check

LinkedIn is a great place for people to reference check you. They hear your name, wonder “who is this person?” and immediately go to Linkedin to find out. In many cases, your LinkedIn profile is the first impression you make with someone else.

  • Increase your reach

Your reach is how many people are aware of you.

  • Establish or improve your credibility

Once they are aware of you, you need to establish yourself as a person to be reckoned with, someone who knows what they are talking about, and is knowledgeable in their field. Credibility gets you included when people are considering their options. You want to be on that list.  

  • Be the pointy end of a lead gen program

You can make offers on LinkedIn and generate leads. I call this the pointy end as usually you need a backend to collect the leads such as a landing page on your website.

  • Search and find people and companies

LIke I said, a searchable database of 550 million people and 19 million companies. Everyone and everything is in that database. You just need to figure out how to find what you need to find.

  • Research people and companies

Now that you have found them, you need to review the information on LinkedIn and let it help guide your tactics. There’s a lot more here than most people think.

  • Contact people and exchange messages

Well, it is a social network, isn’t it?

LinkedIn is outstanding as a reference check, and for search and research. It is good for credibility and reach. LinkedIn is completely hit and miss for lead gen and for contacting people and exchanging messages.

What do you need LinkedIn for? What are you looking to do?

Ask yourself, “Am I weak or need improvement in any of the seven areas above?”

Do you need to becoming better known? That’s reach.

People have heard of you but don’t have much more information? Credibility. Need sales leads? That’s reach + credibility.

Need prospects? Search + research + contact people.

Select the things on LinkedIn you need to do to help solve your problems.

For the areas you selected ask, “Do I know how to do these things?”

If you can’t say to yourself, “I know exactly how to do that, quickly and effectively”, get help. And it never hurts to test your knowledge and assumptions about what you can or can’t do with someone who knows their stuff. Someone who can teach you how to get better results or to use a LinkedIn feature effectively will both save you time, and help you get better results more quickly. There are lots of people out there who can help you. There are generalists and there are specialists, such as those that work with LinkedIn users on their profiles. My specialties are search, research and how to contact people.

So if you are unhappy with your LinkedIn results:

  • Figure out the gaps in the results you are getting now.
  • Figure out whether LinkedIn can actually help close those gaps.
  • Get help if you need it.

This isn’t rocket surgery.*

(* a combination of rocket science and brain surgery. Very difficult.)

Why I Give Away My Time And Expertise On LinkedIn (And Maybe You Should Too)

I receive a half dozen requests for help with using LinkedIn every day, ranging from a simple one like “where did this feature go?” to complex as in “how can I make publishing work for me?”.  I try and answer everyone who asks, often with a full answer or I can just kind of give the person some suggestions and point them in a more productive direction.

Back in June I actually tracked how much time I was putting into these ad hoc help sessions and it came to just over thirty minutes a day. That’s 3 hours a week of time that I don’t get paid for. Then I just shrugged and have kept doing it, whether it be for clients, ex-clients, connections or strangers who accost me with “I have a question about LinkedIn…”  

I have good reasons for doing this. Here are eight of them.

It keeps me sharp.

A lot of my time goes to Sales Navigator and related topics such as InMail and Using Advanced Search. I also coach people on publishing articles and posts in LinkedIn. But I get questions coming out of the blue on all kinds of things – profiles, invitations to connect, groups, privacy settings, you name it. Responding to these questions keeps me sharp.  

Helping people shows me how most people uses LinkedIn

Helping other people gives me clues as to how users are experiencing LinkedIn and where they have problems. I have been using Linkedin every day for several years now. It is easy to forget that people may be confused about things I take for granted.

It sets a good example.

I am a big proponent of “give to get”.  

Helping other people is like giving away free samples.

Free samples of what it would be like to have me coaching them. People respond well to free samples. It makes them wonder “if he gives this coaching away for free, what’ the paid stuff like?”

It makes me better at explaining LinkedIn.

Practice never hurts.

It gives me ideas for content

I publish an article about using LinkedIn every week. I publish a post about using LinkedIn every week. That’s a lot of ideas I need to come up with on a regular basis. I get a lot of those ideas from these help requests. If one person is asking why LinkedIn posts seem to get more views than LinkedIn articles, a lot of other people must be wondering too.

It’s gratifying

Who doesn’t like being seen as a “go-to” resource?

Most importantly, helping other people for free is good for my business.

Most of the non-client people I help don’t become clients. But many of them recommend me to their connections. This is one of the great values in networking that most people never “get”.  It would be nice for the person I help to become a client. But it is just as nice when that person becomes a sales person, talking me up to their one thousand connections.  

Giving away little pieces of my time now leads to getting paid for big pieces of my time later.

If you want to up your LinkedIn game, schedule a call with me using the link at the top of the page.