LinkedIn is essentially a live and interactive version of your resume; a platform for you to showcase your skills and professional achievements. But there is the potential to achieve so much more than this; from meeting like-minded individuals and building your network of contacts, to setting up discussion groups, and even finding your next team member.
BACK TO BASICS
To get started, you will need to sign up and complete your personal. Just like your resume, this should be filled with your work experience to date, as well as any educational background you feel is still relevant (i.e. there won’t be many people interested in which primary school you went to). You should also include an appropriate photo of yourself, remembering that LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, as Forever UK’s Social Media Executive, Ronald Kafesu, explains. “LinkedIn is not your ordinary social networking platform; it is much more formal than the likes of Facebook and Twitter. You need to remember to be accurate and consistent in all of your networking efforts.” Once you have created a basic framework, you can then build a more comprehensive profile, including a paragraph summarising your background and skills. This is particularly useful for Forever Distributors, as it gives you the opportunity to briefly explain what direct selling is, and how you’ve built a business using the Forever model. This can be supported by adding videos, PDFs, presentations, links to websites and anything else you think might help inform people about who you are and what you do. “I always say that it’s vital your profile is not only professional, but also interesting. LinkedIn acts as your virtual image. It’s where people will choose to connect, read more, or simply move on,” says Ronald. However, it is important to remember that while your profile provides an opportunity to sell yourself, you should try to steer clear of the usual buzz words and cringe worthy cliches where possible. Although you may well be a ‘motivated, results orientated team player’, just saying it doesn’t really demonstrate anything.
BUILDING A NETWORK
As with any social media platform, building up a LinkedIn network of contacts takes time. A good way to begin is by joining groups that are relevant to your interests or your business, and getting involved with discussions that are posted. As more and more people get to know you and what you’re about, they will begin to request to add you to their network.
Similarly, you can make the first move and search for people who you would like to add to your own network. Once you have started to invite people to connect, LinkedIn will then be able to suggest other people that you might be interested in adding. For example, a freelance journalist might add the editors-in-chief of a number of newspapers and magazines. Based on this activity, LinkedIn will suggest other people who have added the same or similar individuals to their own networks.
From a recruitment perspective, LinkedIn can be a little more complicated for direct sellers, as you will want to make contact with people who aren’t necessarily currently involved in the same industry. Therefore you should put some thought into how you contact individuals about the business, says Ronald: “It can be a great place to generate leads. But, you have to be careful about how you approach them. You don’t want to be known as someone who is spamming people about the business opportunity, or listing links to your opportunity on every single group you come across.
Instead, be more proactive by asking and answering questions in groups. The more active you are in LinkedIn groups, the more contact requests you will generally receive.”
When you come across an individual who you would like to add to your network, you can invite them to connect by clicking the ‘connect’ button and identifying how you know the person. You will be given a list of the following options to choose from: Colleague, classmate, ‘we’ve done business together’, friend, groups or other. This function means that connections can only be made between people who have a genuine link. You will then be given the opportunity to add a message to your request, and the person will be able to view your profile to decide whether they would like to accept you or not.
It is possible for you to post links to your online shop in open discussion groups on LinkedIn. However, the majority of these groups will have an administrator who monitors each post, only letting posts that they deem suitable to go live. For this reason, generally speaking, LinkedIn is more suited to promoting the business opportunity than your retail business. However, it is worth putting a link to your shop on your profile page – to demonstrate the kinds of products you sell, if nothing else. It’s also important to ensure that any posts which refer to specific products are compliant and adhere to Forever’s company policy.
The functions mentioned above are available with the most basic LinkedIn package, which is free for anybody to use. However, you can expand the functionality of your LinkedIn profile by upgrading to LinkedIn premium, which has a monthly subscription fee. This does allow you access to some additional features, such as the ability to send an InMail to anyone – something that would only usually be possible for people within your network. However, for network marketers like you, meeting people face-to-face through Business Presentations, one-to-ones and other events is a far more powerful way of building your business. Therefore, the basic, free package is probably sufficient.
“LinkedIn can be a great place to generate leads. But, you have to be careful about how you approach them.”