Friday, June 3, 2011

Social Experiment – Part 3: Where Do I Find the Time for LinkedIN ?

In our last newsletter, we talked about your LinkedIN profile.

Here, Patricia Romboletti, Managing Director of Creative Growth Group and Creative Growth Talent, and a bona fide LinkedIN Guru, shares the third tip in her custom program, “Six LinkedIN Steps to Professional Services Growth in 2011.”

Where Do I Find the Time for LinkedIN?

Whenever I lead our LinkedIN training workshops, the issue of time management is one of the first ones raised. Included in that discussion is usually the assumption that I must spend hours a day or week on the site. Not true—and I will share my strategy for leveraging LinkedIN in about 1 ½ hours a week.

But first—let’s go back to Part 1 of this series where I suggested that you reframe your thinking about LinkedIN and look at it as a “live event” rather than a social media site. Now, let’s add another dimension to the reframe—it is a “live event” and your activity on the site, if used properly, falls into the realm of business development, not Web surfing.

So to carve out some time to effectively and proactively leverage LinkedIN, I suggest that you start by substituting one current BD activity for time on LinkedIN. If you look back over your schedule for the last few weeks, are there meetings that were not productive—that did not really move your BD initiatives forward? When working with clients, I have yet to find one person who was not able to find at least one hour per week that they could convert to their weekly LinkedIN hour. And actually, it is closer to 1 ½ hours that can be claimed since there is no commuting time involved.

What to do in that 1 ½ hours? Let me share my routine with you. Each morning I take about 5 minutes (usually less, but seldom more) to go my LinkedIN Home page. There, I review the “Updates” section to see the new connections added by my Level 1 connections. If I see that they have connected to someone that I would like to know, I reach out to my contact either by phone or email and ask if they would be willing to introduce me to their new connection. My assumption, and it has held true, is that my contact has recently had an interaction with their new connection—the relationship is fresh and that person is top-of-mind for them.

I then look further down on the Updates section to see if anyone has posted a status update such as a promotion or some other noteworthy event and I send a note to that person acknowledging their achievement. It is a simple, quick and easy way to stay in touch with my connections and one that is always appreciated.

I also take a minute to click on the link “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” located on the right-hand side of the home page. You will be surprised what that exercise can tell you.

I subscribe to a very targeted article consolidation service through SmartBriefs on topics that are of interest to me and to my network. They come to my Inbox each morning and usually contain valuable information that my network could benefit from reading. Each article includes a LinkedIN Share button allowing me to post great articles to my status update in a matter of seconds. I have my Twitter account tied into my LinkedIN account so I can post to both sites with one click so I make that part of my daily 5 minute session.

I schedule the rest of my time---the weekly hour, for Friday morning. In that focused hour, I review and accept (or ignore if appropriate) any invitations sent during the week. By using a standard feature on LinkedIN (that is—you don’t need an upgraded account), I can create one message welcoming my new connections to my network and again with only one click, I can send an individual message to each new connection. Occasionally I will accept other connections in between my weekly Friday session, but those are the exceptions, not the rule.

I allocate some time—typically no more than 15 minutes during my hour, to browse the contacts of my new connections. If I find a contact that I would like to know, I reach out to my connection, either by phone (I will cover the online to off-line/on the phone strategy in a future Post) or email to ask for an introduction. I also have a goal to make at least one introduction/connection weekly during this time to two people in my network who would really benefit from knowing each other.

I belong to a number of Groups on LinkedIN and would not have time to stay active in each one on a daily or even weekly basis. So instead, I select 3-4 of my Groups each week and during my Friday hour, I “visit” those Groups and engage in a current discussion or begin a new discussion. It really is like attending 3-4 SIG events in about 15 minutes.

Next, if time permits, I go to the Q&A section to see if there is a question in my area of expertise that I can answer or an opportunity for me to ask a question, thus engaging in “dialog” across my network.

And, if I still have time within my hour (and I typically do—none of the above really takes a lot of time) I leverage additional LinkedIN features such as Amazon Books to find a way to engage in “dialog” with my network or I research clients and prospects in the Company section of LinkedIN.

Of course, if I have a specific need to do research in between my Friday sessions for a particular client or prospect, I do that. But this routine accomplishes a couple of things. One, by scheduling and limiting my time, I make sure that I do not get drawn into a big black hole---that is easy to do on a site with so much rich opportunity to network. Two, I ensure that I am visible, proactive and engaged with my network on a weekly basis.

As we discuss in detail in our LinkedIN workshop, each activity described briefly above ties directly to business development.

The routine is deceptively simple but significantly impacts your BD efforts.

If you missed Part 2 of this series, click here to read it

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