Are you looking for a way to double, triple, possibly quadruple your amount of referrals? LinkedIn.com, a professional social network, is a user friendly and important tool at your fingertips to help you find new clients and referral partners. If you don’t have a profile up yet on Linkedin, set up one up now. It’s easy and free and if you want to take advantage of their paid services later on, you can do so. LinkedIn is a great place to extend your network of like-minded professionals.
Once you set up your profile, you can acquire contacts through your already established network. Each of your contacts will have many of their own. And each of those “secondhand” contacts has several of their own. It’s easy to find people on LinkedIn. You can upload your e-mail contacts, do a name search and an advanced search to find certain types of people in an industry or city.
Let’s say you have a friend who is a financial rep who has been a good source of referrals for you and she has a profile on LinkedIn. You find her and click a button asking her to be part of your network and she agrees. You’ve now made a connection (Facebook calls this a friend, Twitter calls it a follower). Once that occurs, you can see all of her trusted associates on LinkedIn. As you browse through her connections, you see several people you with whom you would like to be introduced. With just a couple of clicks of a button, you can ask her to “introduce” you to members of her network. For example, you can send a note saying you would like an introduction and why. Adding the why helps get a positive response. When her associates see you are connected to her, they will be more likely to add you to their network and offer you as a referral.
You need to spend some time – about 15 minutes a day – looking through you contacts to see who you want to meet (if not in person then via the internet). If they are in your town or city, you might be able to arrange a face to face meeting. During this time, you should also add connections through the “People You May Know” list that pops up on your feed. This will broaden your network. But remember, be careful about asking to connect with people you do know or it will backfire. As mentioned above, if you don’t know someone ask to be introduced.
There are times when a colleague will ask you for your assistance with something, such as setting up a website or taking photographs, depending on your type of business. If you are unable to do the job or feel like your lack that expertise, it’s easy to find and outsource vendors through the network of peers on Linkedin. It’s like a mutual referral system.
Another way to show off your proficiency is answering questions in the many groups on Linkedin. They are forums for specific areas of interest. You can pose questions, answer questions and promote events, meetings and open houses. It’s a great avenue to finding complimentary businesses to share referrals. For example, if you are a mortgage broker, you can find real estate agents to partner with.
Many companies have company pages and you can set one up as well. Take two minutes a day to search for companies in your industry and follow them so you can monitor what they are doing.
Similar to Facebook and Twitter, Linkedin allows you post updates. Announce an accomplishment or post a link to a helpful blog or article. Every time you post an update it will be seen in the newsfeed of all your connections. Just remember – don’t sell in your update. Provide relevant and useful information.
Receiving and giving recommendations is another source of referrals on Linkedin. You can initiate the process by writing and posting a recommendation to someone with whom you have worked. A short note stating how this person helped you or about his or her area of expertise will suffice. He or she must approve the text and if so, then the recommendation will show up on his or her Linkedin account. You can’t force someone to recommend you, but if you ask, your contact is more likely to return the favor.
When you create your LinkedIn profile, you can list a series of skills you want to announce. When a first-degree connection views your profile, he or she can endorse you for a skill that you have listed. For example, if you choose marketing as a skill, your connection can click a button and others will see he or she endorsed you for that particular ability. In return, you can endorse your connections. Endorsements you receive show up in your newsfeed, giving you more brand exposure.
LinkedIn builds your network strength by making real connections to people both in your industry and outside your industry. You never know where that next referral will come from. With Linkedin, you can create relationships with people through a variety of possibilities.
At Stern, we use LinkedIn as a key social network in all of the Social Media Marketing that we do for our clients. Acting on your behalf, we can find valuable referral partners and start meaningful conversations that will expand your business.