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Invest in your LinkedIn network and one day they’ll be there for you

A small business is struggling. The owner never liked advertising or marketing and especially not that internet stuff. It is a 20-year business, but market conditions are such that while it makes OK money, it’s probably time to sell up. He puts his business up for sale with adverts on the internet. The irony.

LinkedIn is the same. I put out my weekly poll asking what people would like me to write about in The Grocer, and they said ‘raising your LinkedIn profile’. The problem isn’t so much what to do – I think people know, but I’ll come back to some tips at the end of the article.

The problem is why. Recently, I saw a guy on LinkedIn pleading for ‘his network to help’. As I read his poor tale that he had no job, his post seemed to strike a chord of guilt with its audience. Almost, ‘you should be helping me – isn’t this why we are all here?’. He’s right.

But similar to our small business owner selling his business with online ads, I looked at the profile of the LinkedIn guy… he’d never posted, liked, shared or helped anyone before. Yet, here he was demanding help. As my mum used to say, ‘make hay while the sun shines’. You don’t need your network now, but you will. Invest in it and one day they’ll be there when you need them. Here’s how to invest in Linkedin:

  • Make it habitual. Set yourself a small target of once per day to like something. Once this has become a habit (remember you need to do something 21 times before it becomes a habit), then move up to commenting once a day.
  • After a while you’ll want to post something. Use the poll option because it’s pretty easy to ask a question and get people voting. Try to make it personal and business-related. For example: ‘How much do you agree that influencing is the most needed soft skill at home and at work?’
  • Start paying it forward. If someone is looking for a person in IT, maybe make an introduction. Perhaps post offering to help people if they want to know anyone in your network. Or answer someone’s need to complete a piece of research.
  • Your network has always been your greatest asset. The reason the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’, has stood the test of time is because it is true. The only difference is that networking is now largely online. Get used to it. Embrace it.