I was talking to a prospective (and somewhat curmudgeonly) client the other day. He was huffing about this “Damn social media stuff” and how real business was still done the old fashioned way. Through referrals and face to face. I’m sure he expected me to huff into denial and/or hang up on him. But after a moment when I knew I had his attention, I said, “I agree!” More silence. I continued, “Referrals and face-to-face meetings will always be the best way to land business. And LinkedIn can help you meet more people and get more referrals.” After another moment of silence, he answered, “I’m listening.” So while I love social media and LinkedIn, I agree with Mr. Curmudgeon. Nothing really beats a face-to-face meeting for building camaraderie and developing business relationships. One of the best ways I know to get those meetings (and referrals) is to combine LinkedIn and networking – with a few strategies I have developed (and will share with you.)
Here are 6 LinkedIn Strategies you can implement right away to prepare for the next business or networking event you will attend (Like the Social Media Marketing World in San Diego!)
- Discover who in your network lives where you are going
- Join the Association’s LinkedIn Group
- Get strategic introductions
- Keep track of your contacts and relationships prior to and after the event
- Track down other participants with Hereon.Biz
- Manage those pesky business cards
1. To find out who lives where you are going – use the Location (postal code) search in LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature
I don’t know about you, but I simply don’t have the brain capacity to remember my entire network, much less where they live. I use the location search in LinkedIn’s Advanced Search to find people in my network that I know (but might have forgotten I knew) in the cities I’m traveling to (like San Diego and surrounding areas.) This is especially useful for big networks like mine – but my clients with smaller networks also find this strategy helpful.
I just want to kick myself when I get back from a business trip or vacation and realize I missed out on meeting one of my good social media connections face to face because I didn’t do a really quick Advanced search on LinkedIn before planning – or even heading out on my trip!
Here’s how you do it:
- Click on “Advanced” to the right of the search bar
- Type in the Country/Zip code you are going to
- Sort by Connections
- Send a quick message to 1st level connections and shared group members to let them know you will be in town and when.
2. Join the Event or Association’s LinkedIn Group
If you are going to an event hosted by an association or Company (say the Social Media Examiner), especially one you are a member of, check to see if that association has a group on LinkedIn. Then you can just join the group and once you are accepted, post in the group discussion section that you are going to the event and invite other members not only to meet you there, but also connect with you ahead of time. Because you are in the same group, it’s MUCH easier to send invitations and messages to each other.
3. Get Strategic Introductions
With LinkedIn you can now search your connection’s connections for the folks you would like to connect with! So make sure you are first level connections with the event coordinator, and then see who in their network you would like to be introduced to. Just be conservative. Don’t flood the poor person with Introduction requests every day until the event! And use the Introduction feature on LinkedIn – take the initiative. One introduction a week is plenty!
4. Use LinkedIn Contacts To Keep Track Of Event Participants
LinkedIn finally has a (sort) of CRM. So once you begin to engage with folks going to the conference, you can keep track of your interaction with them!
You can also “Tag” them, which allows you to put them all into one easily source-able group. You might even keep up with everyone by sending bi-weekly or monthly messages on what you are finding interested, questions you have about the event, suggestions you have about engagement, etc!
If the event has created a list of speakers, see if they are on LinkedIn, invite them to connect, Tag them as Event speakers, and keep abreast of their activity. That might seem a little stalker-y, but I bet they’ll be impressed when you finally meet them and refer back to their latest blog post, book or interview!
Another added benefit of the new Contacts feature is the announcements tool that tell you who in your network lives where you are going. A few days prior send them a quick hello and ask if they want to meet for a coffee.
5. Find Out Who is Nearby with the Here on Biz iPhone app (Android coming soon).
Don’t know Hereon.Biz? You should! It’s an amazing app that shows you who in your network is in or near the town you are in or event you are attending. So even if you forget to do an Advanced Postal Code search, you can still get similar information on your phone. And even send a message or connect with the person on LinkedIn right from the same screen!
6. Use the iOs Cardmunch App or CamCard Google App
Cardmunch and CamCard allow you to take a snapshot of a business card and record it in your Contacts. Cardmunch (owned by LinkedIn) also allows you to invite a person to connect, or send them a message, or an email, or phone them, right from your screen. It’s a great way to manage and keep in touch with other event participants.
If you have an iPhone, you might also think about downloading Intro and Contacts. Two more LinkedIn contact management tools.
In conclusion – there are many ways to use social media to meet and engage with other association member and event participants, but I have found these 6 techniques will help you to strategically keep in touch before and after an event – resulting in real and lasting relationships! So feel free to connect with me before, during or after the Social Media Marketing World even in May at www.linkedin.com/in/linkedinexpert