‘Invest in yourself, invest in your network and invest in society’ – this was the advice given by Reid Hoffman recently at a talk at SXSW...

Are you really Linked In ?

‘Invest in yourself, invest in your network and invest in society’ – this was the advice given by Reid Hoffman recently at a talk at SXSW in Austin we attended earlier this year promoting his new book ‘The Start Up of You’.

The advice might sound trite but when it comes from the man who helped set up Paypal and sold it to E Bay for $1.5bn and then rather than enjoying his millions went on to set up Linked In and take it to IPO in 2011 as well as investing in Facebook, Zynga and Last FM, amongst others, via Greylock Partners you really have to take it seriously. And truth be told the advice offers a great deal of guidance not only to oneself but also to the area of business development for agencies and ironically nowhere is that more prevalent than Linked In.

So if the key to achieving success in bus dev is indeed, investment, and Linked In is a perfect partner then what can you do to make this happen ? here are 5 tips that you should consider if you are to make the most of the opportunity that Linked In presents:

-       Polish your profile:

‘Perception is reality’ - like any new business meeting or pitch you need to make sure that your profile are set up correctly, completed in as much detail as possible and above all work as hard as possible to sell your services. This should not only include your company but also the key individuals – after all when Googling Gravity Thinking my name appears on the first page. This should also include belonging to the right groups, reading the right books, answering the right questions etc. etc.

-       Connect and collect

‘Quality not quantity’ - obviously the premise of Linked In is networking so building a large, impressive network is a pre requisite right ? well not entirely – whilst it is important to build a network reflective of your status it is also important that you are seen as a linchpin in a community. This not only means a good balance of suppliers, Clients, partners and consultants but also that they recommend you.

-       Synch your social

‘Make the internet work for you’ recently I have been using a site called ifthisthenthat (www.iftt.com) whose adage is the aforementioned quote – in short they shortcut day to day online by creating simple tasks – it saves time and helps me expand my sphere of influence and connections. The great thing is that Linked In already does this in that it allows you to connect services such as Twiiter, foursquare and blogs to be included in your stream which means that your efforts to keep up in these channels are shared to more people hence increasing your influence and connections.

-       Social Spying

‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ – Linked In is the perfect place to keep an eye on your prospects, contacts and potential Clients. This means it is often the only place where people update their job status which means you can now not only see when they have moved but also get an idea of what they have done in the past, who they know and what they are interested in via groups, blogs, tweets etc. etc. In short Linked In provides the best insight you can get into a prospective Client – enough said !
There are however also some other clues that it gives you – who has viewed your profile, who is linked to your competitors or even your Clients and what activity has taken place recently. All this means that Linked In is one of the best places for industrial espionage.

-       Pay it forward

‘We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give’ Churchill may have said this over 60 years but for me this is perhaps the most important of the 5 areas as it perfectly reflects not only the basis of the site but also the very foundation that social media is built upon. So the premise of ‘you get out what you put in’ should be rigidly applied and this means ‘sharing is caring’. Linked In has a wealth of features from the ‘Questions’ section where you can seek out your specialist subject area and endeavour to answer as many relevant questions as possible until you become an ‘expert’ in your field (incidentally we found a new Client through this answering a questions about use of social in sports and community development), to the sharing of Slides via the Slideshare functionality and the sharing of new articles in the news feed.

As all those involved in agency new business know there are no shortcuts or silver bullets to success but rather hard work and focus. As Sam Goldwyn’s much repeated quote goes “The harder I work the luckier I get” and whilst the effects of this work might not be immediately obvious you can do a lot worse than investing this time into Linked In and hope the luck follows !

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