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7 Lessons On How To Network Better On Linkedin From Keith Ferrazzi

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How To Network Better

A few months ago, I felt LinkedIn was an exclusive club for professionals only and inaccessible to a freelance writer like me.

My fear of the business platform had everything to do with my dislike for networking.

Networking and self promotion don’t come very naturally to me. But that was not all that was stopping me.  Many people on LinkedIn seem to know it all and have their careers on track. I was just trying to wrap my head around being a content writer.

I avoided the app even after reading reports like the Hootsuite report on LinkedIn (2020) that stated that about 30 million companies were on LinkedIn. I knew that being active would increase my chances of landing gigs but I was not sure how to get started.

All of these facts made it very easy to let dust settle on my LinkedIn profile.  Until I read Keith Ferazzi’s book, ‘Never Eat Alone’ and it changed how I looked at networking. Since then, I have grown my network and I have connected with prospects and learnt from fellow freelancers.

Here are the lessons I learnt that will help you make  useful connections and grow your business on LinkedIn.

1. Share Your Knowledge Freely

Content marketing on LinkedIn is at an all time high. And while you might not be a corporation with a huge budget, you can use this to your advantage.

Why is everyone giving away what they know for free?

Keith explains that “…the currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.” Hoarding knowledge is detrimental to networking.

People are drawn to information that is helpful to them. Value could be anything from the quote of a CEO to showing how you write a sales copy.

Before you say you’ve nothing to teach or share, think back to a time you overcame a challenge at work or got over a bad habit. Talking about experiences like this is valuable.

Your articles or posts do not have to come from decades of work. You could share the process you are going through right now and it will get you a lot of attention.

Forget about the technical stuff, focus on what people can use. Just be sincere and share true experiences.

Not all posts or articles have to be work related. Professionals don’t only share business tips, they share simple life lessons. Some posts look like they are straight out of motivational books.

Do some research if you do want to share the technical stuff and don’t know enough about it. Do not be comfortable waiting for ideas on what to share to come to you. Actively seek them out.

2. Be Audacious and Deliberate

Opening a LinkedIn account and sharing posts is not going to get you very far. Especially if you’ve only 5 connections and you are afraid to put yourself out there.

I spent years on LinkedIn waiting for people to reach out to me. I sent the occasional connection request to some guy from high school that popped up in the suggestion feed.

This “strategy” was not working.

Then I made a deliberate decision to connect with two people every day. Not with people I know. I just looked out for people in my industry. I sent out the requests with my heart pounding. Each time I felt a wave of nausea hit, “I would ask myself what is the worst that could happen?”

Yes, some people didn’t accept my connection request. I have over a 100 connection requests that have not been accepted. But I also have tripled the number of my connections in a few weeks.

Keith Ferrazzi says…

“Sticking to the people we already know is a tempting behavior. But unlike some forms of dating, a networker isn’t looking to achieve only a single successful union. Creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships requires one to be out there, in the mix, all the time.”

Go beyond familiar faces. Reach out to people that you do not know too.

A great way of getting new connections is by engaging with people’s posts and dropping meaningful comments. Saying thanks for sharing does not count. It is better to explain why the post meant something to you. Mentioning what you think (whether in affirmation or negation) is also very good.

Be on the lookout for posts that are created solely for connecting with others. Look through the comments and identify the people you are interested in connecting in.

3. Don’t Be the Networking Jerk

Yes, it is a great idea to connect to other people. But there are ways to do this.

Just sending hey, I think we should connect does not always work. Nor does please I want you to mentor me (trust me, I tried this and got no reply).

People are selfish.

Keith warns against being a networking jerk. Connecting with others is not all about you.

“When you don’t have others’ interests at heart, people will find out sooner rather than later.”

So if they sense you are leaching on to them and have nothing to offer they will shake you off real fast. It is easier to connect to a guy who actually posts meaningful stuff in your industry than to someone who is just there to drain you.

Make people see some benefit in connecting with you. And no, you do not need to be a hot shot executive. If you follow the first step (sharing what you know) people will want to be part of your network.

Connecting with an industry leader or someone really important might take more than a connection request. Here is what you can do:

You could send a request after dropping meaningful comments on the person’s posts. Start out by following them at first and looking out for things that they need or want. When you identify something you can do for them. You could ask if you can help.

Don’t copy and paste a template. Personalize it for each person you want to connect with. Go through the person’s profiles. Look for common interests or mutual contacts. 

4. Cold Calls Should Be Warm

Knowing the right time to pitch is essential.

Don’t barrel into anyone’s inbox with a proposal the minute they connect with you. Even if you connected with them for the sole reason of gaining a client or to partnering with them on a project.

Consider starting out with a personal note thanking the person for connecting.  can Or comment on their posts with insightful information.

Keith provides a formula to transform cold pitches to warm pitches

  1. Look for shared passions or mutual friends and build on them.
  2. Share interesting and useful resources with them.
  3. Go straight to the point.

If you do not have mutual friends, you can send them a note thanking them for connecting instead.

5. Expanding Your Network.

Each connection you make on LinkedIn opens you up to more people. Think of it this way, for every connection you make, their network becomes open to you. You can access the people they know.

It is networking of the exponential kind. Take advantage of this in a wise way.

Don’t just send requests to everyone on their list. Be strategic about the people you connect with.

Create a strategy. Keith Ferrazzi has this to say,

“The more specific you are about what you want to do, the easier it becomes to develop a strategy to accomplish it. Part of that strategy, of course, is establishing relationships with the people in your universe who can help you get where you’re going.”

A good idea is to connect based on:

a. Industry

b. Niche

c. Common interests/schools/associations

But don’t expect everyone to accept your requests. These people don’t know you. But they can get to know you. So be patient and do not think anyone owes you anything. .

6. Keep Yourself at the Forefront by Being Present

If there are certain people in your network that are very important to you, keep yourself ever present in their minds by doing the following

a. Sharing their posts

b. Dropping meaningful comments on their posts

c. Provide solutions and answer their questions

d. Celebrate their wins with them.

People always remember those who are constantly engaging with their content. It will going a long way to setting you apart from everyone else.

It is that simple.

It makes no sense to create new connections and do nothing with them.

In the words of Keith Ferrazzi, “In building a network, remember: Above all, never, ever disappear.”

I am not saying you should go wild and comment on everyone’s posts. Instead  drop a comment or like or share on a post from your network that you found helpful or insightful. Be active and present.

7. Never Eat Alone

There are lots of opportunities on LinkedIn.

Some may be for you, others might be the dream job for someone on your network. If you see something that could help someone in your network, do share it with them.

George Seal, a senior colleague to Keith during his days at Deloitte had this to say about helping others.

“Stop driving yourself—and everyone else—crazy thinking about how to make yourself successful. Start thinking about how you’re going to make everyone around you successful.”

A writer in my network recommends people for mentorships and jobs from her network. It does not cost a thing but it generates loyalty and friendships that she would have never gotten otherwise.

In the end, networking on LinkedIn the right way requires you to genuinely care about others. Keith Ferrazzi says, “I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful.”

 When you are in it for yourself, networking will feel unnatural and uncomfortable. So think about how you can grow with others, on LinkedIn and in the real world.

Till next time,

STRIVE

Stella Inabo is a freelance writer and blogger. She writes about freelancing, content marketing and personal development. Want to grow your business and increase your reach with words, contact Stella to write for you at stellainabo@gmail.com.

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