Let me preface this piece by stating that developing a LinkedIn strategy might not involve the same star power as, say, Barbara Walters’ The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2014.
Chances are that you’re not going to aim to meet Amal Clooney via LinkedIn.
But if you’re not using LinkedIn to build your personal brand and connect with fascinating people, you’re missing out. Here are just some of the ways I’ve used the social network to meet the following types of professionals:
1. Guest bookers, media producers and editors.
In my time using LinkedIn, I have booked a number of interviews for myself and some guest pieces requested, without my consciously making an attempt to connect to media professionals. They found me.
And I, as a publicist, was able to share some of the love with my clients. Even if you’re not working in public relations, know that there are media contacts out there who are looking for sources. Some of the friendliest editors and producers I have connected with found me via LinkedIn.
If you make a concerted effort to contribute to LinkedIn Groups and have the good fortune that these media professionals find you, you can end up with press you haven’t been directly seeking.
The media folks that find you could be guest bookers for a podcast syndicated in five major markets or the editor of a respectable publication that’s not yet a household name. The resulting media coverage will be something you’re proud to share via your website, social media and newsletter and can leverage to attract bigger opportunities.
The clients you can meet through LinkedIn are usually easier to sell to because they are already familiar with you, what you do and your message, thanks to the guest pieces and blog posts you share in your LinkedIn Groups.
People become fans and start tracking your profile. Or they stumble across you, a member of one of their LinkedIn Groups, read your bio and realize you’re just what they have been missing.
3. Educators and thought leaders.
I consider myself an aspiring LinkedIn educator. I’m constantly posting content that people can use to improve their messaging, stop putting out bad press releases (and start issuing good ones) and learn more about PR.
Through LinkedIn, you can gain access to some pretty amazing ebooks, articles and advice on topics, ranging from improving sales to creating more captivating Pinterest content.
Of course, these people, like everyone on LinkedIn, are hoping you’ll find their content interesting enough to contact them about their services. If you pull at least one tip from each ebook or article you read, you’ll be a pretty savvy person at the end of the year.
4. People who solve problems you didn’t know you had.
Some people using LinkedIn are doing fascinating things that can help your business and your bottom line, even if you didn’t know to look for them or that such a service existed.
To date, the most fascinating person that I met on LinkedIn is a woman who specializes in bulk book sales to corporations. Yes, of course, my clients would want to sell thousands of copies of a book in a single transaction.
To find such potential connections, however, you must care about what other people on LinkedIn are trying to tell you and not ignore requests for phone calls or messages explaining what they do.
When you start paying attention to other users on the site instead of strictly looking for clients, you’ll find people who can benefit your company’s bottom line in other ways.
5. People who solve problems you knew you had.
You probably have a need that you have trouble filling. You receive plenty of spammy messages offering services you’re not interested in.
But if you have actively been contributing to groups and building your thought leadership on LinkedIn, you'll find people who not only offer services you’re seeking but who also admire you, believe in your message and share a similar approach.
6. People in the markets you want to be in.
Lately, thanks to your SEO efforts, you’ve started attracting clients from a geographic region. For whatever reason, people from San Francisco – or people in D.C., Dubai, London or Sydney – are gravitating to what you’re posting online. Sometimes folks in a certain market are just in sync with what you’re offering.
The only problem is that you don’t live in that market. But join the right groups on LinkedIn, and you can start building relationships with people there. The same thinking applies when you realize that a certain industry is a great match for you but you don’t know how to start reaching the professionals involved.
So how did I meet all these people? I applied the following tactics:
Participate in LinkedIn Groups. Join groups, indicate “likes” and comment on the remarks of people who respond to your content. Connect with these individuals on LinkedIn and dedicate a portion of your morning to reading content posted by people in your groups and commenting on what they’re doing.
If you’re pressed for time and can’t do anything else, join the maximum number of groups (50) and you’ll start receiving infinitely more requests to connect via LinkedIn.
Post guest pieces to LinkedIn Groups. If you have just a little more than no time, post relevant guest pieces to your LinkedIn Groups. I did this and fascinating people found me fascinating. Post to the same group a few times and fans will emerge.
Sometimes these individuals are interested in you since you offer exactly what they're looking for – or they're in a related field (often they will fit into the categories of “People who solve problems you never knew you had” or “People who solve problems you knew you had”).
Take relationships into the real world. If you have thousands of LinkedIn contacts, you won’t be able to develop a real offline relationship with everyone. But if someone appears fascinating, ask for a phone call. You would be surprised at the interesting conversations or relationships that could develop. Get out of your inbox and onto the phone.