A question I often get asked by insurance agents at conferences is “I’ve signed up on LinkedIn. What’s next?”
If you’re not familiar with it, LinkedIn is the professional social network. Its 175 million members from 200 countries form the wealthiest and oldest demographic among the most popular social networking sites. We members are predominantly male and college educated. (Fortunately for many of us males, LinkedIn also allows only one photograph—the profile photo.)
Though LinkedIn does not come with a user’s manual, you don’t need to be a computer whiz to derive immediate benefits from the site. Here are five quick ways to maximize your participation on LinkedIn:
1. Groups. To network with as many people as you can, join as many relevant groups as you can. Currently, you have a choice of nearly 150,000 groups on LinkedIn. For instance, I have joined alumni groups for the three colleges I attended, for the current and former companies for which I have worked and for my business interests (such as “keynote speakers”). I have also created groups and have asked others to join.
Groups you may be interested in joining include the finance club (262,654 members), global insurance professionals (40,192 members) and global insurance network (30,361 members). You may never know when these people may be able to help you, or more important, when you may be able to help them.
To get started, simply click the “Groups” link on the top left of the screen.
2. People. By making an entry and clicking on the “People” box at the top of the right screen and also using the “Advanced” link to the right of the box, you can search for LinkedIn members by criteria such as:
- School attended
At one point in my career, I was interested in becoming a brand manager. Had LinkedIn been in existence then, I could have done a keyword search on the job title “brand manager.” I could then have looked to see who was a direct or even a second-degree contact. A second-degree contact would be a direct contact of one of my connections on LinkedIn.
On a second-degree contact’s profile, I could have clicked the “Get introduced through a connection” link. This would have sent an email to both my connection and the second-degree contact.
On average, you will get a positive response from one or both of the contacts about 70 percent of the time. That percentage is a lot higher than if you tried to cold call or reach the second-degree contact on your own.