LinkedIn – Who is ‘checking’ you out?

A Sales Trainer in London recently told me about a lunch he had recently attended with his biggest client the ‘head honcho’ from a large International Merchant bank.

Whilst enjoying their starter in a swanky Mayfair restaurant the banker turned to him and asked “How do you get most of your clients?” The Sales Trainer replied “The vast majority of our clients come to us through word of mouth, I have a strong network of contacts in the banking sector and I believe we have a very strong reputation” “that is very impressive but when we first contacted you we hadn’t ever heard of you before” Intrigued by this statement the trainer enquired as to how they had come to contact them in the first place.

“I searched LinkedIn for Sales Trainers with a financial services specialism in London and you were one of about 30 I found” “Excellent so why did you call us?” The answer was not what the Sales Trainer expected.

“You had more recommendations than anyone else and some of them were from people whose opinion I respect, I considered that if so many people had taken the time to recommend you then you must be pretty good”.

This is not just an example of the power of recommendations but also the importance of a good, effective profile – without the right keywords of ‘sales training’ and ‘financial services’ he would not have appeared in the search results in the first place. It is also an example of how critical it is to build a strong network of relevant connections – if the sales trainer had not connected with a sufficient number of users he would not have been in the clients network (1st, 2nd and 3rd tier connections) and would have only appeared as a ‘private’ profile in the search result.

The reality of LinkedIn is that your customers and potential customers or possibly even potential employers and employees are likely to be ‘checking you out’ and making judgements on you from your profile. When you conduct a simple name search on Google these days you will find that the top results are almost always LinkedIn profiles – try ‘Googling’ yourself now to see what I mean. Are you happy with your profile? Does it portray the right image and would it make someone want to do business with you? Have you got powerful, compelling recommendations from customers or are your testimonials from colleagues (let’s be honest – who else cares what your co-workers think of you!)

Many people suffer from confusing online networking with traditional offline networking and become very ‘precious’ about who they connect with resulting in a limited network which in turn leads to low visibility – i.e. they won’t appear in search results! I am not advocating massive networks of irrelevant contacts but you do need to be aware of the dangers of small ‘exclusive’ networks.

Whether you like it or not, LinkedIn is growing rapidly – in the UK alone over 100,000 new users are signing up every month and because the functionality is improving, people are really starting to use this tool to research new markets, suppliers and employees. In order to maximise your effectiveness you need to ensure the following;

  • You are visible to a wide range of users (how many people are in your network?)
  • Your profile is ‘rich’ with relevant keywords.
  • Your profile is professional, impressive and compelling.
  • You have as many ‘credible’ recommendations from current and past customers.