There is a lot of talk about social media, including the subject of actually making money off social media efforts. Can you you legitimately build a business that makes money using social media marketing? Many feel that the only people actually profiting off social media are the ones who teach others how to do so, charging big fees in the process. LinkedIn, like other social media sites is only a mean to an end. Think of it as a high end tool that you would buy at Home Depot to do some work in your house. The issue is not the tool, but the person actually using the tool to do the work.
In January 2010, I was brand new to LinkedIn, having some 30 connections and never had used it for transacting any business or getting any leads. I signed up for it back in 2006 because a good friend of mine in Philadelphia suggested I do so. It was like buying a tool at Home Depot and then bringing it home, where it just sat in the garage doing nothing. In February 2010, I began doing some advanced work in the executive search business and began to do research on companies, industries and individuals using LinkedIn. I started connecting with more people, joining groups and participating in discussions and discovering companies and people that I did not know existed. By the end of the year, I had placed 5 people into one company, all connections I made on LinkedIn. I had more than 1,000 connections and had build a reputation and following. 90% of my income in 2010 were off connections I made on LinkedIn. I now am booking speaking engagements and continuing my placement work thanks to connections, groups, comments, blogs and continuous activity that I drive through LinkedIn.
Does LinkedIn work? The answer is YES, with this caveat: to the degree to which you use it properly. Here are the top 3 keys I’ve found to making LinkedIn work for business and money making purposes:
1. Groups: The key to LinkedIn is not just to know more people, but to become known by others. The best way to do this is through groups. You can join up to 50 and go in and out of them, thus rotating through different groups. Get involved in the discussions. Post good questions that make people think. Answer questions and volunteer good information in the discussions. People will get to know you as someone who is a resource, not just a contact.
2. Target specific people in specific companies: If you know you want to do business with certain companies, look them up and find out who from that organization is on LinkedIn. Join the groups that they are members of and get involved in the discussions. Once you’ve met some people, ask them to be connected to you. Then you can ask them if you can be introduced to some of their connections.
3. Provide relevant content: take advantage of a free slide-share account to post video content that will benefit your contacts. Write and post blogs that have real world take away value for those who are connected to you. Give away useful and relevant information. Be seen and known as a resource. People will do business with those who they see in such a light.