LinkedIn Networking – The Missing Link

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 up-dating 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 ….”

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 (we still do). 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 off line 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.

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? If you’d like our 8 Top Tips on how to get started on the missing Link to your LinkedIn experience, just click here and we’d be delighted to send you a copy. 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.

Thank You …

Thank you. Two little words.

Two very powerful words.

When you contract a service, it’s usually in exchange for a fee. This kind of makes a thank you unnecessary and it is not usually expected. Of course, it is good manners to say a verbal thank you and that’s pretty standard.

But some take it a step further. They make it more personal.

They send a card, (or sometimes a gift). It’s always a double delight and a surprise to receive personal thank you notes.

Think about this…..it’s a rarity these days to receive snail or hand delivered mail. Even on our birthdays we tend to get good wishes via Facebook – not that I’m knocking it. It’s nice to be remembered by friends far and wide, but it’s just not the same as receiving a card in the mail.

I recently received two beautiful notes. Both very different to each other, but each precious and special.

There’s a lovely little frisson of anticipation in slitting open the envelope. Bubbles of anticipation are floating to the surface as the card/note slides out,  rounded off with a little heart skip and a smile while reading the notes.

Thank you notes

Both these clients (who remain unnamed for the sake of confidentiality) are winners, but have been struggling with their businesses recently.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with them.  Working in business for yourself can be lonely. It can become quite overwhelming trying to gain crystal clear clarity on how and where your business needs to be adjusted for success. Providing support, teaching the skills needed and then seeing things start to turn around is something that both Yvonne and I love doing.

We’re paid, and we’re also getting a thank you card – how fabulous is that?

It makes the world of difference. It inspires us to take things a step further and always strive to be improving our services; this includes the bonuses and adding to our Resources4Results so we can share more to pay it forward which is my Dragon Discipline #5.

SO here’s my hot tip – saying thank you, either with a personal note or in some other unique way helps your business to stand out from the crowd. Try it.

Michelle

PS Love you to share how you choose to say thank you, feel free to post a comment below. Always great to share ideas.

 




Networking – The Pain of No Gain

Recently I was invited to meet a new networking group.   The first person I met told me, ‘I don’t speak to customers,’ with a please-go-away glint in his eye.   His female associate said, ‘that’s right, he’s great at website design, but he doesn’t like talking to customers.’

It made me wonder why she hadn’t left him safely chained up in his virtual world, far, far away from the real life people; with real life egos to offend.   I wanted to tell him to relax; there was no danger of me becoming one of his customers.

What was his associate thinking?  Bringing him to a networking event was like inviting the Terminator to a peace rally – at best pointless; at worst, potentially deadly – the lifeless bodies of dead opportunities strewn around him.

By almost spooky coincidence, I came across another website designer (on social media), who took our introduction as an opportunity – to immediately shoot holes in one of my websites.   Well, at least he recognised the opportunity.  Not that he had it for long.

Even spookier:   I am actually in the market for a new website!

Now I’m not bashing web guys or girls.   I have the greatest respect for web wizards.   Especially since when I started out in business, digital space was what you had between your fingers, and the web was what Spiderman had between his.

Things have changed a lot in that time.   Moreover, some things haven’t.   Like the need to attract customers to your business  and the ability to recognise them!

Clearly, these two gentlemen were interested in this. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been putting themselves in the physical, or online, networking space.  It’s a pity then that having taken that step, it didn’t work out for them because they had no idea how to maximise the opportunity presented.

It’s easy to look on and cringe, or chortle, at those two scenarios.   You and I can smugly reassure ourselves that, of course, we would never so obviously muck up the chance of interesting a hot prospect in our business.

The truth is, all of us, at some point, have missed an opportunity and are very likely oblivious to the fact.   The pain of no gain can show up much later, after the fact.   The more times we prod that pain point with the pointy stick of lost opportunity, the more it hurts – our business.

Image courtesty of 1shots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of 1shots at FReeDigitalPhotos.net

Being on the point (sorry, pun phobics) with identifying an opportunity, in any environment, is a habit honing exercise, enhanced by practice and experience.  And it takes skill to translate an opportunity to an outcome.  A win-win outcome.

Not being on point, can be a business breaker.   Crack out the Panadol!

Michelle and I have worked together for nearly a decade now.   Sure, we’re sisters.

However, the reason I work with her is that Michelle is one of the best business strategists I know, and I have been privileged to know some amazing ones.

One discipline Michelle insists on (she can be a bit bossy), is that we dedicate a proportion of our time each week, to talking about creating and maximising opportunities – for our business, our clients, and our Dragon Sisters collaborators.

Michelle has a little list of what I call her Dragon Disciplines relating to opportunities.

DD #3 resonates here:   “Your expert may not be the right person to develop all opportunities”.     

If you’d like a copy of her list of Dragon Disciplines, drop me a note, and I’ll send you a copy.

Yvonne



Yvonne ToeringYvonne 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.

 

4 Reasons Why You Should Always RSVP – apart from being good manners!

Don’t you just love the feeling of slicing open an envelope and carefully sliding out a personalise invitation with your name on it? Even better if it’s vellum, gilt-edged or embossed with a crest!20160225_141748-1

Even after all these years, and countless invitations, I still love that moment as the sharp opener slices clean the envelope to reveal its contents. Those little moments of using my letter opener are becoming rarer and rarer.

Have you noticed an increased propensity for invitations to arrive by email?

Even wedding invitations turn up via email! You can call me old-fashioned. I know electronic is better for the planet and more cost efficient, but in my book, you can’t beat paper.

The days of snail mail envelopes are almost gone. Perhaps, in the not too distant future, they will be entirely obsolete.

Anyway, I digress. No matter how an invitation arrives, it nearly always has RSVP on it (répondez s’il vous plait) and a date to reply by. Of course electronic invitations can get trapped in your spam filter or the junk mail box, so you’re often none the wiser till it’s too late!

Responding is just plain good manners.

Yep! I can remember my grandmother always used to insist on Basildon Bond stationary to write RSVP’s and thank you notes. But, aside from not wanting to appear rude, there are other less obvious reasons why you should always RSVP.

#1 – Someone has thought enough about you to place you on their guest list. They want you at their event.

Give them the courtesy of knowing you appreciate being thought of. That’s the RSVP.

#2 – When we look at the business scenario – invitations are a way of saying “Hey, we value you. We’d like your company”. You’re being invited, you’ll be giving or gaining something from your presence at the event. Hopefully, you’ll do both!

Your RSVP, whether you’re accepting or declining, means you respect the business relationship.

#3 – If you repeatedly fail to respond, you could well find yourself scrubbed off the database permanently. When that happens, if you’re in business, it means the networking opportunities become more limited.

#4 – When you RSVP promptly (by the due date at the latest), you’re showing that you respect deadlines and value the organisers time.

Your appropriately timed RSVP is affirming that you’re a responsible and reliable person to deal with.

When sending a RSVP, if you need to decline, there is no need to go into any detail about why you are declining. A simple ‘regretfully unable to attend’ is usually sufficient.

If you are in the public eye or a position of seniority, you may well find yourself flooded with invitations. Just because you’re invited does not mean you have to accept. It’s perfectly okay to decide what you will and won’t attend. Just make sure you RSVP to every single invitation that arrives with RSVP on it!

The easiest way not to forget is to do it immediately, or at the very least make a diary date and flag so you don’t miss it. It’s all too easy to forget when you get busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday living.

Michelle

P.S. Emily Post has this to say on RSVP’s

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.