Love it or not, LinkedIn has been a standard bolt-on tool to business networking for long enough that it’s now an expectation.
Maybe, like me, you buckled under the expectation of peers, colleagues or clients, and ended up on LinkedIn because it just said too much about you not to be.
Like, ‘Really, you’re not on LinkedIn?!’ accompanied by the sort of facial expression reserved for inspecting fossils and other oddities from antiquity.
I’m enough of a dinosaur to remember the advent of cellular phones.
That was back when the first mobile phone (the ‘transportable’) weighed a ton, cost the earth, and was commonly known as ‘’the brick” for its unlovely looks and hefty weight. I expect you can still find one in a museum somewhere.
As a fledgling Vodafone sales rep it was my job to convince the reticent that they could not do without one. Never mind that lugging one of those things around gave you arms the length of an orangutan’s.
A day now without our mobile feels like a limb is missing and we can barely function.
Can we function without LinkedIn?
Sure. And quite happily.
The last thing a busy person wants is one more digital platform to keep pace with. Who really wants an already bulging to bursting in box pinging with new notifications that someone has checked out our LinkedIn profile, changed their profile pic or has worked at ABC Inc. for exactly 12 months today (should I send flowers, a cake)? Not me!
Yet I’m on LinkedIn. I may have landed on there simply to shut up my eye-rolling business associates and to disprove the theory that I’m a relic from the Land that Time Forgot, but given enough time, even a curmudgeonly crustacean like me, has to ‘fess up and say that it hasn’t been all bad.
OK, so it’s been more than worthwhile, once I’d sussed out the Missing LinkedIn Link. Because once you get a handle on LI it does open doors. No apologies for the pun.
What’s the Missing Link in LinkedIn?
To be fair it’s not missing. But it’s easy to miss amongst all the self-promotional fluff and flannel on there.
To get the most out of LinkedIn, you just have to use it, using good old fashioned networking skills. That’s the missing link to LinkedIn networking and opportunity creation (and not just for yourself).
These networking skills are a lot different to just mouse clicking like and periodically updating your profile brag sheet. Not that you shouldn’t have a great brag sheet. You should!
And you should be supporting your network with likes and comments and contributing with shares and posts of your own. But that’s just maintenance of presence stuff. And if that’s all you want LinkedIn for that’s fine. At least folk can find you if they want to.
I’m a salesperson so I expect a better ROI on my time and I want to be a bit more proactive than simply waiting for someone to fall over me.
I’m also an authentic person and I don’t want to engage anyone, however strong the connection, in any way that’s not authentic. I want to enjoy my connections.
Otherwise, it’s just too boring. LI doesn’t need to be a deep and meaningful experience for me. But it does need to be meaningful to be worthwhile – and that’s where the true value lies within LI.
Never lose an opportunity
Over the years, LI has proved to be a source of some choice opportunities that would not have come my way, had I not had a presence on that platform.
The alternative – not being on LI – would have simply meant that I’d have been unaware and unavailable to those opportunities and introductions. And that’s a key point – I’d have been ignorant of what I’d missed out on.
Ignorance may be bliss, except when it’s costing you an opportunity. A state which results in looking on (green-eyed) at your peers and competitors and thinking “she has all the luck” or “how does he get all the breaks” or “I can’t believe that dufus got that job/contract/client ….”
Are You Missing a Link?
If you’re already on LinkedIn and thinking “Huh, it’s been as much use as a chocolate teapot” in terms of opening doors for you, it’s possibly because you’re not actively using the medium to its full potential.
Maybe you haven’t found the Missing Link to making it work for you.
It’s kind of like having a membership to a club and never using it or turning up to any functions and then deciding it’s useless because you haven’t met anyone.
When Michelle and I started out with Dragon Sisters, we used to run networking workshops.
It was never a surprise to us that successful, competent business people, were just as cowed by the prospect of walking into a room full of strangers, as the less experienced workshop participants.
It just didn’t come naturally to go in cold and to engage, interact meaningfully and to come away with a value-adding experience from in-person networking events or functions which presented networking opportunities (in our book anywhere anytime is an opportunity to connect and network).
On line and offline the same networking principles apply, and that includes using the LI opportunity effectively. Putting in the missing link in how you use LI means you never lose an opportunity. But to do that you need to make sure you have a profile that makes you shine!
The Bigger Picture
Don’t be vain about who you invite to, or accept at, your LinkedIn table. Remember that helping out youngsters and start-ups can be rewarding in many ways.
Focussing only on a certain level of professional connection out of a sense of self-promotional reflective kudos can be counterproductive, as can the obsession with the number of connections you have.
Michelle and I have always believed in paying forward. We were lucky that seasoned professionals helped us when we were green, young and didn’t know what we didn’t know.
My LinkedIn connections include bright young things who have worked for me. Anytime I can give them a leg up I will.
Funnily enough, I sometimes get offers from companies reference checking my past employees and even the odd synergistic new connection from those managers and directors.
One day these bright young things will be directors, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders themselves. That’s the bigger picture. Exciting, isn’t it?
Have fun networking!
Yvonne Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.