You’ve worked hard to establish a network of friends, colleagues and associates to help you grow your business. LinkedIn is a simple but powerful tool to help you maximize, organize and grow this network. This guide is a step-by-step process to getting you quickly up to speed on LinkedIn and on your way to fully maximizing the potential of your network.
We pulled our favorite LinkedIn advice from David Gowel’s book The Power In A Link, and applied it to the real estate profession. Definitely worth a read, the book is an excellent resource for discovering the hidden power in your network with many real life examples of how the author used LinkedIn to improve his social status and advance his career.
By following these simple instructions, you’ll be a LinkedIn power user in no time. We’ll discuss how to check your privacy settings, set up an all-star profile, map your network, grow your network using advanced search and suggested content to keep your network entertained and engaged.
Growing Your Network
Your network is far greater than the people you actually know – the real power of LinkedIn lies in the second and third degree connections that represent the majority of your network, a number that is exponentially greater than those you are currently connected to. LinkedIn puts networking into overdrive by connecting the dots for us.
With the right network, even the most passive LinkedIn user will be driven leads just by having an up-to-date profile. To take it a step further, you can start posting interesting articles and listing information to establish yourself as a subject matter expert, periodically reminding your network that you are in real estate should anyone be in the market.
If you really want to harness the power of LinkedIn to drive your business, try using the Advanced Search feature to work those second and third degree connections mentioned earlier. Using Advanced Search will allow you to find more people to connect with, and turn them into first degree connections so that your posts and listings will reach more people.
HINT: Follow the Rules!
Sounds great so far, right? The potential is huge! But there are rules. The rules for networking online are identical to the rules for networking offline. Often we forget a key component to online networking – to be social! In order to nurture an effective network, we have to listen and engage with others and establish our relationships before asking for favors, such as making an introduction.
After you create your account, the first step is to set your privacy settings. Hover over the avatar or photo of you in the upper right hand corner to find the Privacy & Settings menu. This is where you go to determine your profile settings, the manner in which you receive communications, as well as where you may update your email address and phone number. Spend time exploring this section to ensure that your account is set up exactly how you wish, for now we’re going to turn our attention to just the profile settings.
Turn on/off your activity broadcasts.
Turn this off if you don’t want your connections to be informed of each step as you build out your profile. You can always turn it back on once your profile is complete.
Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile
Decide how you want to show up when others see that you’ve viewed their profile, if your goal is to find more clients, choose to show your name and headline to be as transparent as possible.
Edit your public profile
People are increasingly turning to the web to find out more about the professionals they choose to do business with. Control how you appear when people search for you on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s results. By choosing to make your public profile visible to everyone, you’re enhancing your natural search results. You’ll always have the bio on your company’s website, but here is an opportunity to enhance your personal brand with a professional profile, enticing people to engage with you right on the spot. Add a link to your LinkedIn profile to your business card and email signature, you’ll start to see your LinkedIn profile rank before your Facebook profile on Google, which for some professionals is a great opportunity to separate their personal and professional activities.
Create an All-Star Profile
As you build your profile LinkedIn lets you know how you’re progressing along the way with a little graphic on the right hand side of the page. It ranges from Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and All-Star. Once you set up your account, the platform prompts you to start filling in your background information and with a little bit of attention, you’ll be at the Intermediate level in no time. Be sure to include a title, your photo, education and any awards and honors you’ve received. Perhaps the two most important pieces of information in your profile are your summary and recommendations.
Your summary is where you show off your personality, highlight your experience and most importantly, tell people how you can help them! Let people know what your specialties are, such as working with first time home buyers or selling investment properties.
As a real estate professional, recommendations are also important to boost your credibility. Once the rest of your profile is ready, the next step is to connect with some of your best clients. The fastest track to receiving a glowing recommendation is to send your client an InMail with suggested copy for the recommendation, so that all they have to do is copy and paste. Always be polite and give them an out so that if they’re not comfortable doing so, it doesn’t tarnish your relationship.
Map Your Network
Now that your profile is ready for action, you may want to turn on your activity broadcasts. There a few ways to find people to connect with.
People You May Know
LinkedIn will automatically suggest people on the People You May Know screen based on the profile information you’ve included such as colleagues from places you’ve worked as well as the email address you provided when you signed up. Spend some time connecting with the people you know on this screen as this is most likely the majority of your first degree network.
Your Personal and Professional Contacts
Take some time to go through your rolodex and the stack of business cards on your desk to search for people if they didn’t show up on the People You May Know screen. Think about the people you regularly engage in business with either personally or professionally — your printer, your hair stylist, your electrician, your plumber, your landscaper.
HINT: Beware of super-connecting!
People who connect with anyone and everyone defeat one of the most important and fundamental values of LinkedIn: knowing the people in your network for whom you could make a warm introduction. It can’t be stressed enough: quality over quantity. Imagine how disappointing it would be for your best client to ask you for an introduction to someone in your network, only for you to have to explain that you can’t introduce them since you don’t actually know the person they’d like to meet. Instant credibility drainer. Only connect with people you know and trust.
Once you’ve developed your profile and have made substantial progress in mapping your network, it’s time to put advanced search to work for you! Advanced search allows you to search and connect to your second degree connections.
If you’re interested, LinkedIn’s Premium membership will allow access to your third degree connections. For example, with 350 first degree connections one would have at least 200,000 second degree connections, and at least 9 million third degree connections, so there is plenty of room to grow into the Premium membership.
There are several strategies to employ when looking to expand your network. You might pick an area of your background to find more people that share the same interests or education as you. Another tactic is to find professionals in a complimentary field, such as all the interior designers in your area.
When you click on the Advanced button at the top of the screen it will open up a menu of fields. Try typing in some keywords, if its interior designers you’re after, type in “interior designer” into the keyword field. Type in your zip code and choose a search radius. Uncheck the 1st degree connections, since we’re prospecting, you only want to find people who are not already in your network. When you click the search button LinkedIn will list out all of the interior designers in your network! Feel free to filter the results to narrow it down by company and industry if you like. You can click on the shared connection link to find out how you are connected where all you need is an introduction to open the door to a new referral partner. If you’re happy with your search results, save the search and have it automatically sent to you every month via email; it’s an easy way to keep tabs on people on the move in your network. To save click on the Save Search link on the top right hand side of the page.
Your College Network
If you’ve lost track of some of the people you went to school with now you can re-connect on LinkedIn. Hover on Interests and choose Education, on the new screen go to Alumni and enter your school. On the next screen go to Students & Alumni, where you’ll likely see thousands of people. You can narrow it down to the years that you attended in order to find the alumni from your class. For those who will recognize you, feel free to connect. For those who were more of an acquaintance, you may need an introduction to connect with them.
One of the most important values to LinkedIn is the ability to be introduced to new connections through your first degree connections. That’s why it’s essential that we know the people in our networks, so that when the opportunity to make an introduction arises, we are able to engage in this form of social currency, which is powering the world of business today.
You might notice that one of your most outgoing friends from college is connected to dozens of alumi who all live in your area. You could write an InMail to your friend asking her to introduce you to these potential clients. Make sure to include the benefit of connecting to you – maybe you have an affinity program for all alumni where you offer a free market assessment of their home and you can put them in contact with an AH-mazing loan professional, if the timing is right. It should be an easy decision for your friend to make the introductions for you!
Be creative with your search criteria and utilize introductions and your network will expand with potential clients. Now it’s time to get social with your network!
You’ve cultivated a wonderfully mapped network that represents everyone you know or aspire to know. Now what? You need to develop a content strategy to stay in front of this essential audience.
To establish yourself as a subject matter expert you may become a curator of valuable information. When you come across a particularly useful article, share it on LinkedIn. You may even add a sentence, no more than 140 characters, on why you find it useful.
You can also generate your own content, which is more time-consuming but it will add to your credibility as an expert. Drive traffic to your blog by linking to it on LinkedIn. Slideshare is a terrific platform for sharing listing information and photos without having to navigate away from LinkedIn.
Whatever you decide, make sure it’s authentic, interesting or entertaining. Engagement is a direct path to potential clients, but it shouldn’t be all one-sided. Remember to read, like and comment on others’ posts to engage in true social networking.
LinkedIn is growing every day, with two users joining every second. Now is the time to get on board to benefit from being in the early majority and gain an edge on your competition.
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