LinkedIn is far more than just another social media platform; it’s a powerful marketing and communications tool that all professionals and businesses should be taking advantage of. It’s where many business owners – including eCommerce accountants just like you – can find clients, useful content, industry colleagues and valuable mentors.
The true value of LinkedIn was illuminated during the height of the Covid pandemic when in-person events were restricted and networking went digital. As the world slowly but surely returns to normal, now is the perfect time to optimise your LinkedIn usage so you can get the most out of the platform.
In this article, we share eight ways you can use LinkedIn to take your networking to the next level, including:
1. Ensuring your profile is up to date.
2. Making relevant connections.
3. Staying away from blanket direct messages.
4. Regularly sharing original content.
5. Engaging with your connections’ content.
6. Remembering it’s a platform about building community – not hard-sell.
7. Being yourself and being authentic.
8. Utilising the Events search functionality.
1. Make sure your profile looks polished
In the same way you wouldn’t turn up to an in-person networking event or business meeting looking scruffy or unkempt, you also don’t want your LinkedIn profile to send out the wrong signals. If you don’t keep your profile polished, you run the risk of people rejecting your connection requests or even flagging your messages as spam.
Ways to ensure your profile looks professional include:
• Using an up-to-date, high-quality image for your profile photo.
• Create a personal URL by editing your public profile.
• Checking for any typos or grammatical errors in your page content or profile info.
• Request Recommendations from colleagues and/or clients.
The same goes for your company’s LinkedIn Page – that needs to be well maintained too in order to create the right impression.
2. Connect with relevant people
LinkedIn is about the quality of your connections, not the quantity. Making sure you are only connecting with relevant people will ensure your time spent on the platform is safe, valuable and productive.
Examples of great people to connect with include:
• Clients (present, past and potential).
• Colleagues (past and present).
• Fellow school/college alumni.
• People in the same industry as you.
• Relevant people in your local area.
• People who attend the same events as you.
We recommend using the ‘People You May Know’ feature in the My Network section of your account to find good quality connection suggestions.
It’s also never a bad idea to connect with friends and family – these are people who love and support you, so will provide valuable engagement on your content. Plus, as the old adage goes, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’.
3. Steer clear of blanket direct messages
The antithesis to strong relationships and effective marketing is blanket messages and impersonal communication. Avoid this at all costs if you’re going to spark and nurture meaningful, professional connections.
Maintaining relationships is a critical component of successful networking, which is why it’s so crucial to personalise and tailor things like comments and direct messages. Also, when sending new connection requests, always include a message to provide context and avoid the person you want to connect with feeling like they’re one of a long list.
Effective conversation prompt ideas include:
• Talking about a piece of content somebody posted that piqued your interest.
• Using somebody’s job update to congratulate them as a segue into further conversation.
• Saying happy birthday when you get a reminder – you don’t always have to reach out with a specific motive.
• When you need industry insights, career advice or an introduction to somebody.
• A commonality you might have identified between you and them.
4. Share interesting, original content regularly
Networking is all about exchanging conversation, meeting new people and maintaining the momentum of this professional relationship building. Sharing original and interesting content on a regular basis is an instrumental part of this.
Consistently share your experiences, ideas, thoughts, insights and recommendations with your network to become an active member of your online community. Ask questions and create LinkedIn polls to inspire interactions; use relevant hashtags to extend the reach of your content; and remember that these days, video content is king (or queen).
5. Engage with other peoples’ content
This is a short but imperative point: engage with your connections’ content regularly, as well as sharing your own.
LinkedIn isn’t a platform for you to just preach your product or service (more on that in just a moment) – it’s a two-way street of mutual support and sharing. Comment on other peoples’ posts, use the various react buttons and share others’ content to your own feed – all of these things will boost your connections’ engagement and help grow their networks too.
6. Remember: it’s a community, not a sales pitch
As we mentioned above, LinkedIn isn’t a sales pitch platform, it’s a community and you need to add value to that community.
Naturally, on a professional networking site, you’ll inadvertently end up discussing your product or service – and that’s okay. What’s not okay is seeing the LinkedIn feed as an opportunity to push the hard sell on your connections. This will simply serve to tick people off and hinder meaningful relationship building.
From your perspective, it’s also important to remember that this is an arena where you’re free to ask for help and support – encouraged, in fact. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network (your online community) when you need guidance – but also be open and forthcoming when it comes to returning the favour.
7. Be honest and most importantly, be yourself
Always be honest, truthful and most importantly of all, authentically you. It can be tempting to adopt a different iteration of yourself in the digital world but where you’ll find the most meaningful working relationships is when you’re just being yourself – nothing more, nothing less.
Our top tips:
- Be truthful about your experiences – don’t lie or elaborate.
- Write how you would speak (within reason) – if you wouldn’t say it in conversation, don’t write it down.
- Be genuine with your intentions and don’t make false promises.
- Be open about your challenges and struggles – don’t just showcase your highlight reel.
- Only build relationships with people you genuinely respect, admire and trust.
8. Use the Events search functionality
Head to the LinkedIn homepage, type the word ‘accounting’ into the search box and click the Events button when your results appear. Here, you’ll find a list of accounting-related events that you might wish to attend.
The platform’s intelligent algorithm will share relevant events with you organically but if you wanted to browse what’s going on in your industry for yourself, this is a great way to do so.
Oh, and, once you’ve attended an event, whether it was digital or in-person, don’t forget to connect with fellow attendees. Swap business cards or details so that you can find each other on LinkedIn. Having been to the same event, you’ll almost certainly be able to help one another out further down the line – or at least share the same interests so you can engage with each other’s content.
On the topic of connecting, you can find us on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/ecomledger/. Follow us there for all the latest news and updates.