There’s a ton of advice out there on how to “master” LinkedIn®. You can study up on how to get started on this business-oriented social network, what to put on your profile, which groups to join, and how to make connections. LinkedIn’s Small Business Resource Center offers plenty of tools to help you succeed.
But after you’ve followed all the advice and you have the best, most kick-ass LinkedIn presence the world has ever seen, how do you turn those contacts into beneficial business relationships? It’s one thing to connect with all the right people on LinkedIn, but it’s another to build business with those connections.
Maintain a robust profile
Whether it’s pictures of bikes or awesome Web designs you’ve completed, include samples to shows that you’re more than just a well-written profile.
Building your credibility and your brand on LinkedIn is crucial for building useful business contacts. When you contact someone, it should be obvious who you are and what you’re all about—whether that’s building bikes from recycled materials or creating custom software solutions or anything in between. What you write on your profile is important (it should be clear, concise, and accurate), but is your personal and/or business website also linked to your profile? Have you attached any examples of your work? Whether it’s pictures of bikes or awesome Web designs you’ve completed, include samples to shows that you’re more than just a well-written profile. You are a legitimate and serious person to do business with.
Post and share meaningful content
Participating on LinkedIn is also important for establishing your legitimacy. Keep in mind that participating is not the same as spamming. You can share content from your own website that promotes your business while also providing something of value for your LinkedIn connections. Posting relevant content from other sites or commenting is also a great way to be part of a conversation. Engaging meaningfully and thoughtfully in groups will make you stand out and identify you as someone who is a knowledgeable leader in your field.
Take it to the next level
Now your connections know that you’re credible and probably someone they could work with. What next? The truth is that LinkedIn is great for making initial connections, but it’s not a place to transact business. After an initial request to connect and a few polite exchanges, you need to take your conversation elsewhere if you really want to engage meaningfully for business.
Moving from LinkedIn to your professional email is a clear sign that you’re interested in more than casual networking. Using a branded e-mail address such as firstname.lastname@example.org will instantly validate your professionalism and the legitimacy of your business.
Exporting LinkedIn connections
Getting all those LinkedIn contacts into your regular contacts folder, however, can be a pain. Sure, you could copy and paste every email address from each LinkedIn connection into a new contact — but that’s just asking for tendonitis. Fortunately, LinkedIn makes it relatively easy to export your contacts as a .CSV file. Just look in the contact settings for Export LinkedIn Connections. Then you can import the file into your regular contacts.
With Microsoft® Office 365 from GoDaddy the process is even easier. In the Outlook® Web App under the People tab on the left side of the page, you’ll see a link called Connect to social networks. From there you can connect your LinkedIn and Facebook® accounts directly to your Office 365 account. Your LinkedIn contacts will automatically be added to your contacts in their own folder. Even better, if your LinkedIn connections update their contact information, it will automatically update in your contacts! If you use a desktop version of Outlook, you can do the same thing with Outlook Social Connector.
The app makes it even easier
There’s more. If you add the free LinkedIn for Outlook app to your Office 365 account, you can view the LinkedIn profile of any of your contacts right inside your email. You can even request a LinkedIn connection from a contact in your Office 365 email account without opening another window. That’s pretty nifty.
And when you see your LinkedIn connections turning into meaningful business contacts, you’ll feel great that all that time you spent “mastering” LinkedIn has finally paid off.