Anyone who has a job no doubt has heard of LinkedIn. This social network for professionals has been around since the halcyon days of 2002, a time of big fat Greek weddings and, uh, Michelle Branch songs. Of course, a social network doesn’t become ubiquitous in any field without it being useful. LinkedIn is a fantastic place to make and preserve contacts and, as one can assume, it’s also a great place to find a job. However, did you know that many people use it for lead generation? It is fertile ground on that front as well. However, there are some rules you have to follow so as to avoid trouble.
Read ‘em and don’t weep
First of all, read the privacy and user guidelines. You should be doing this before contacting a lead obtained on any site, but LinkedIn is extra finicky in this regard.
Make several contacts in your field every day
Nobody likes being contacted by someone whose account doesn’t feel ‘lived in.’ If your LinkedIn presence seems dryer than a skeleton in the Sahara desert, you are going to have to spend some time making contacts in relevant fields. Note — this shouldn’t be people you are going to be contacting as leads; it should simply be real people in your field so you’ll appear, and be, more legit. Of course, once you have enough contacts on your own, feel free to reach out to potential leads.
Don’t farm email addresses
Remember when I said LinkedIn was finicky? This is one of the things they are finicky about. Don’t use LinkedIn as an all-you-can-eat buffet of email addresses to be used as leads at a later date. You’ll get caught and most definitely banned. Then you’ll be standing on the outside looking in like a poor stranded puppy on a cold winter’s night.
Once you have some potential leads you want to contact, don’t start with the hard sell. Consider LinkedIn like a business dinner, and nobody likes to talk business until they’re past the main course. Thank people for connecting with you. Write them recommendations. Celebrate their achievements. This is common sense, but you’d be surprised how often I see this rule broken.
Don’t ignore messages or requests to connect
None of us like the constant barrage of emails from LinkedIn flooding our inbox and alerting us to anything and everything. However, they do serve a useful purpose. You spent a lot of time building up your profile so you may as well use it. Respond to messages. Connect with would-be associates and leads. This stuff will eventually bear fruit, I can almost-definitely-maybe promise.
That’s pretty much it. Now get out there and have fun. LinkedIn is filled with viable leads; now you just gotta find them.
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