Every year I speak with hundreds if not thousands of people on the topic of LinkedIn and, the biggest mistake I see across most entrepreneurs regardless of age, industry or country is, that there is so much emphasis on them and their business.
‘Me, me, me’ posts just don’t attract people to your profile. Potential clients need to be engaged first and foremost, before they will even connect with you let alone interact with your posts.
I am sure that both you and your business are great, and of course you want to shout about that.
The bad news is that, frankly, for most people outside of the self-cleaning plastic widgets industry, its just boring.
Ask any savvy business owners and they will tell you that LinkedIn is single-handedly the best way to network online. People from all over the world use LinkedIn to grow their online business, but many make easily avoidable mistakes.
While I have made and seen every mistake possible, in my opinion there are three that are most common. Any of these mistakes could turn your LinkedIn profile into a major professional liability. Here’s how to identify them–and get them fixed.
1. No plan
Just like anything in life, building a solid foundation is the backbone to it being successful. You wouldn’t build a house without first laying the foundation or framework, you wouldn’t start a business without first conducting market research and developing an effective LinkedIn campaign is no different.
There are many steps required in order for you to succeed on LinkedIn but none more important than knowing your objective and outcome for using LinkedIn. I see so many business owners use LinkedIn because they hear or see other business owners using it.
Fix it: Before creating your profile or thinking about building your network, gain some clarity around your LinkedIn strategy by looking at your marketing objectives over the next three to 12 months and work backwards to help identify who you need to connect with in order to reach those objectives.
2. Add value
Nobody, and I really mean nobody, likes to feel like they are being ‘sold to’.
Hammering your new connections inbox with messages about your product and services straight away is not going to win you any friends, or customers for that matter.
The clue is in the title – social media is meant to be exactly that – social.
Ok, so LinkedIn is very much a professional and business based forum but, the underlying principle of being social remains.
Whether you are connecting with a potential partner or customer, you need to build value and rapport in order for them to have any interest in who you are and what you do.
Just because they accepted your connection invite, doesn’t mean they are interested in what you have to say.
Remember: to be interesting, you have to be interested.
Fix it: Before you start emailing marketing to your contacts, think of a few ways you could add value to them.
For example, it may be that within your connections there are about 100 accountants of whom you have recently connected with in order to create a joint venture partnership.
Your first email could be sending a link to a recent article you read. This shows you were thinking of specifically about them. Your second email could be a free eBook you have found that helps accountants generate more business.
This will help develop the trust and rapport necessary between your connection, so that when you contact them to hold a meeting they not only recognise you but most importantly interested.
3. Segmenting their database
I learnt the importance of segmenting your connections the hard way. Within my first six months of using LinkedIn, I had connected with over 1,000 people within three different industries: Media, Accounting & Events.
My aim was to use the media contacts to get some PR exposure, accounting connections to create a few joint venture relationships and, connections within the events industry to hopefully get some speaking gigs.
There was just one problem though: All my connections were mixed in with one another, not by choice but by default.
You see, little to my knowledge I wasn’t aware that all new connections are automatically tagged under a folder which LinkedIn calls: Untagged.
I knew that in order for me to reach any level of success I would have to personalsze my communication and, because I could not properly assess who was who quickly within the tags section I had to go through the entire (1,000) connections in the untagged folder and re-tag them accordingly.
While, it was tedious and frustrating at the best of times, it was also very empowering. By the end of the process, I knew precisely how many connections I had in each industry. This helped me effectively communicate my message.
Fix it: Learn from my mistake. Before adding even one more connection, take one step back and segment your connections so you can take two steps forward.
You can do this by going to the contacts section within your LinkedIn Profile where you will be able to create, manage and tag existing and new contacts into certain folders. Then you can ensure the right message is sent to the right people within those specific folders.
Again, the more specific you can be, the greater your level of effectiveness will be when looking to market and communicate your message with your contacts.