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LinkedIn is a great business network, but users must learn to operate it properly/NZH article

25 Sep

Having an incomplete profile on LinkedIn ... is like going to the biggest networking event on the planet in your old track pants ... Exercises teach people to use LinkedIn properly. Photo / Andrew Malmo
Having an incomplete profile on LinkedIn … is like going to the biggest networking event on the planet in your old track pants … Exercises teach people to use LinkedIn properly. Photo / Andrew Malmo

As a “personal trainer” for LinkedIn users, Kate Nankivell drills her “boot camp” recruits on game changes – how social media have changed the way New Zealanders do business and develop their profiles and businesses.

“Using LinkedIn for business growth is all about networking and relationships,” she says.

But not everyone is using the professional networking site effectively. That’s where Nankivell – a LinkedIn business development and social selling specialist – steps in.

While the phrase Linked In Boot Camp conjures up pictures of business-suited people with laptops running up hills, the name refers to the effectiveness and intensity of the five-week, two-hour sessions, rather than any physical training.

“All joking aside I am like their personal trainer,” says Nankivell. “It takes persistent action to create results on LinkedIn, and I wanted to convey to participants that they would have to come to boot camp prepared to learn and do the work.

“There is a lot more to LinkedIn than people often realise until they start learning about it.”

She says LinkedIn, now with a million New Zealand users, has connected the world of people in business, but a lot of people are under-using it.

“People are registered as LinkedIn members and don’t do a lot more than accept connections … they are being reactive rather than proactive in their use of the platform.

“Making the most of this opportunity still requires building and maintaining great connections and great relationships.

“Having an incomplete profile on LinkedIn and only accepting invitations to connect is like going to the biggest networking event on the planet in your old track pants and standing with your nose in the corner and expecting that this will generate interest in you and results for your business. Just being there is not enough.

“The power of LinkedIn as the number one B2B [business to business] professional networking site in the world is that you can take control of your professional identity and brand online through creating an optimised profile. It’s also the place where you can create leads and find new clients through social selling.”

Nankivell runs through the core concepts with her boot campers, who tend to be business owners and sales professionals:

•Defining your ideal customer

•Optimising your profile so it speaks directly to the needs of your ideal customer.

•How to use LinkedIn and the best way to connect with someone you don’t know

•Expanding your network

•Social selling to create leads and opportunities.

Each week Nankivell produces new material and gets boot campers to complete exercises during and after each session.

“They need the time in between to apply what they have learned and complete the exercises.”

She asks her boot campers if they are aware that when people Google them, their LinkedIn profile is at the top of the search results?

“So whether your profile is good, bad or incomplete that is what people are reading about you.

“When I review the profiles of most of my clients they are far from optimised so this is a big step forward for their personal and business brands online.”

A comprehensive profile also builds credibility with prospective clients and enables a shift from cold to warm calling in sales roles – making it easier to generate meetings and opportunities with businesses.

“LinkedIn is by far the best and most current database of business people available to us for research and for prospecting.

“This is great news for sales people and the businesses they work for. The world is your oyster – you can prospect for your ideal customers in the market of your choice.”

Business tasks that used to take all day now can be done in five minutes.

And, unlike other social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn members are there for professional reasons only.

“That means there is no confusion over why your potential customers are on the site.”

LinkedIn 101

Setting up an account is a quick task as you can create a password and then start with simply your name and email address.
*Optimising your profile takes longer.
*Once you have an optimised profile, for best results, spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day plus a longer one-hour session once a week.
*More information: www.forceofnature.co.nz

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