[Perhaps you know someone in your network who could benefit from materials I created for a LinkedIn workshop titled, “How to Leverage LinkedIn for Your Business”.]
I thought I’d share my LinkedIn workshop materials with those responsible for introducing LinkedIn in a group setting. As an avid user of LinkedIn, I would like others to benefit as I have from LinkedIn.
I recently conducted a LinkedIn workshop titled, “Leveraging LinkedIn for Your Business.” The group included about 20 professionals in the tourism industry, representing hotels, restaurants, recreation centers, etc. The individual experience level was introductory level, with a few exceptions.
Initially, I thought the 90 minute event would take the form of a presentation using PowerPoint with some jumps out to the LinkedIn website for demonstration purposes. However, I soon realized that such an approach might have me speaking at the group, rather than engaging them. So, I began creating workshop materials, not quite sure how it would all turn out.
I had three goals in mind prior to the event:
- Make it meaningful to each participant.
I figured my success would be measured based on whether participants developed an understanding of how to leverage linked in for their business and whether they had the tools and confidence to become more effective using LinkedIn.
- Provide participants with a jump start.
My thought was that starting is often the most difficult part of a new endeavor. By completing a goals worksheet and, time permitting, a profile worksheet, I could get them thinking about:
- who they’ll be targeting and for what purpose
- events they plan to host/promote and attend
- areas of personal/professional interest for participating and networking in group and Q&A discussions.
- Provide inspiration.
Share my own experiences as well as best practices.
The setup was quite simple:
- Laptop, projector and Internet connection for facilitator/presenter.
- Web browser and LinkedIn website using my account login (no PowerPoint needed).
- Worksheets, handouts and writing utensils for each attendee.
At the time of the event, I had approximately 170 connections on LinkedIn, 8 of which are superconnectors. Within 3 degrees, my network included just over 6 million LinkedIn users. As a facilitator/presenter, it helps to have a fairly developed profile/network and a number of postings in group and Q&A discussions.
Prior to the event, I was provided with a list of attendees by the event coordinator. I researched each attendee’s LinkedIn profile to determine their level. I created a spreadsheet and entered one person per row with column headers that included the number of connections, recommendations, groups and events and then a column to include my notes/assessment. I found most to be at an introductory level with only a handful of connections each, almost no recommendations and minimal group and event participation. I soon realized that having this information logged is a benefit after the event to compare progress. I let the group know I’ll be checking in on their LinkedIn profile from time to time to see how their profile is developing in regards to connections, content, applications, recommendations, events, groups, etc. In the days that followed the event, several reached out to me for a LinkedIn connection. This gave me the opportunity to provide further encouragement and remind them that I look forward to seeing progress on their profile.
I’ll describe the workshop materials now. By the way, I plan to come back to this blog post to update content as it makes sense to do so, either to satisfy my desire to make it better or because of your input.
Here’s where you include the normal formalities, thanking the host, telling a little bit about yourself, providing a few statistics on LinkedIn such as 45 million professionals with annual household income in excess of $100,000, ranks in the Top 100 for most traffic ranking, strong in the 25 – 44 age demographic, etc. Conclude the introduction with your goals for the event. Your goals could be the same as mine, mentioned above:
- Make it meaningful to each participant. Help them learn how to leverage linked in for their business and provide them with the tools and confidence to become more effective using LinkedIn.
- Provide participants with a jump start. – Complete goals and profile worksheets and see demonstrations regarding searches. Here, too, you could provide a brief mention of the workshop sections related here and their purpose.
- Provide inspiration. – Share my own experiences as well
Goals Worksheet – [download worksheet]
As an introduction to this section, I conveyed the importance of each person setting goals with thoughts like these:
- Apply the 80/20 rule. Often times 20 percent of your efforts account for 80% of your success.
- Consider which of your existing accounts and business relationships are most profitable.
- How can you find more like them?
Next, present the Goals Worksheet for completion. The form is rather self-explanatory and I don’t recall any questions being asked during the worksheet completion. Expect some to finish in 5-8 minutes and others to complete in 10 minutes or so. You can walk around to see if there are any questions and collect those that finish first. This gives you a chance to see which of the completed worksheets would make for good examples when conducting LinkedIn searches in the next section. Before handing out the Completing My Profile worksheet, I returned the Goals Worksheets to their rightful owners.
Conducting and Qualifying Searches – [download handout]
In this section, I provided a “Conducting and Qualifying Searches” handout as a guide for myself and participants for when they conduct searches on LinkedIn. I stepped through examples of company, people searches, events and group searches using a few select participant examples from their Goals Worksheets along the way. I found it best to have fewer search criteria to open up the number of search results and then refine, if appropriate with additional search criteria.
Follow this section’s handout for demonstration of each feature and talking points along the way. Here are a few additional points worth mentioning:
- There are over 350,000 groups. Join the maximum of 50 to take advantage of the fact that you can email members of the same group for free. This is one of the least known and most valuable benefits to LinkedIn! (I suggest repeating this message to your audience because of it’s importance.) LinkedIn won’t allow you to join all 50 groups at once, but when you max out on the number you can join in a day, you can return the next day to join more.
- When you join a group, you’ll have the option to receive a digest of all activity in the group. You can turn that feature off or set it to daily/weekly. This is important to know as you join a lot of groups, you don’t want to be inundated with emails. Set according to you personal preferences and on a case-by-case basis.
- Group membership is at the discretion of the group owner. I’ve found that the vast majority are open to membership. In fact, you can start your own group!
- Follow group protocol, often conveyed to you as you join.
- Get engaged in group discussions. Offer helpful suggestions, begin to establish yourself as an expert, post questions, start your own discussions and submit news (I always submit URLs to my newly published blog articles across all of my relevant groups and links to compelling stories in the news that other group members might find of interest. A lot of blog traffic and networking opportunities have resulted from this one activity.)
- Try to be a matchmaker for people in your network.
- Before posting a question, conduct a search to see if your question is already addressed within the existing discussions.
- Source like-minded people based on group and Q&A discussions.
- Connect with a few superconnectors to grow your network exponentially (do not abuse this feature…my suggestion is try to connect to a few initially and see how it goes, then do more from there). In the keyword search field type these phrases to find superconnectors willing to connect you to their large networks:
- invites welcome
- invitations welcome
- open networker
- Demonstrate how to view the connections of those with whom you’re connected.
- Demonstrate “Add Connections” feature and how LinkedIn simplifies the process of efficiently building your connections with these very helpful tools:
- Import contacts (from Outlook, gmail, Yahoo mail, ACT!, etc.)
- Find past or present colleagues (based on jobs and dates of employment as indicated in profile.
- Find past or present classmates (based on schools and dates of attendance as indicated in profile)
Making Contact – [download handout]
In this section, I provided a “Making Contact” handout as a guide for participants for when they are ready to make contact with other members on LinkedIn. I didn’t go into much detail after providing the handout, but rather let them know that this handout describes in detail how to contact members for free and when they must use a paid subscription, what they can expect.
I drew their attention to the upper right portion of a typical profile page. This is where the communication options reside. Different terminology is used, depending on the degree to which the person is connected (again, detail provided on the handout).
I then spoke about factors I felt are important in making contact through LinkedIn. When emailing:
- Make reference to a common area of interest or a common connection.
- Talk in terms of collaboration and mutual benefit.
- Don’t attempt to sell anything, just open a door.
- Test different outbound messages and measure their response. Save successful messages for later use.
- Receiving LinkedIn emails is still a novelty for many members, which is great!
- Be patient; lag time is common. (Sometimes, I’ll get responses one and two months after sending the LinkedIn email). I believe that’s because the amount of mail people get through LinkedIn is not high-volume and, eventually, people get around to responding. Also, I haven’t seen an email delete feature within LinkedIn, so the email sits there unless they hit the archive option.
- When you receive a positive response to an email, it’s OK to give them a call.
- Dual email benefit. Emails arrive at the member’s private email account in their Outlook, Gmail or whatever account AND it arrives within their LinkedIn Inbox. Two for one!
Completing My Profile – [download worksheet]
In this section, I provided a “Completing My Profile” worksheet. I suggested they complete this worksheet on their own time, when they’re in a relaxed setting. Why not complete at the coffee shop? I stepped them through the elements of a strong profile, encouraging them to include easy-to-integrate applications that will help them to stand out (SlideShare, Reading List, Blogs, etc.). I presented a few examples of where the inclusion of applications strengthened profiles considerably.
I emphasized these points as well:
- The importance of a professional headshot versus your favorite “day at the ballpark” photo.
- Quality vs. quantity
- Find your voice and consider your audience. If you’re in the creative field, your audience would expect a higher degree of creativity and perhaps less of the usual formalities.
- Build profile over time. It’s a living document.
- Search engines and LinkedIn favor updated profiles.
- Creating a company profile is very important. Instructions for doing so are on the bottom of page 2 of the worksheet. I reminded them that I often see misalignment between a LinkedIn member’s profile and that of their employer.
- Thoughtful recommendations from your connections adds credibility. To receive high value recommendations, give them. (I’m not a big fan of asking for recommendations. I’ve found that if you write unsolicited meaningful recommendations for your colleagues and friends, they’ll often reciprocate.)
Home Screen – [download handout]
In this section, I provided a “Home Screen” handouts. The Home Screen is what every users sees when they login to LinkedIn. I walked them through my home page in a matter of about five minutes, pointing out the major features and mentioning a good number of the points in the provided handouts. I let them know that most home pages will include the same content layout initially and that they can customize items and order of content along the right side of their home page to an extent.
I emphasized these points as well:
- Monitor your network for opportunities to engage and support others.
- Review possible new connections recommended by LinkedIn.
- See who’s viewed your profile.
- Update your status regularly and setup a bit.ly account for shortening URLs and tracking traffic to them.
I concluded the event with a Q&A session and suggested they refer to the materials provided as they take next steps, and if they should run into a roadblock, to reach out to me for help.
In the days following the event, we facilitated an effort to help the participants to connect with one another. We also provided complimentary LinkedIn head shot photos taken at our photo studio.
Feedback has been encouraging and Deanna, the event host, wrote a kind note of appreciation:
Thank you again for a truly wonderful presentation yesterday. I’ve been getting quite a bit of positive feedback. I think you opened some eyes and gave a dose of courage to some of those that might have been a bit “phobic” of LinkedIn and other social mediums on the Internet. I for one will be stepping up my profile and using it more often!
– Deanna Goodwin, Director of Marketing, Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
I invite your feedback and encourage you to apply these materials to your training situation. If you see any inaccuracies or oversights, please let me know.
Tim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.
Please reach out to me if there’s any way I can help you through my network or otherwise. Your comments below are welcome.