I was recently told by one of my entrepreneurial friends that my engagement on LinkedIn had inspired her to dig even deeper into networking within the platform. I was posting success after success connecting with influencers and potential leads and it led to her reaching out to people she’d never considered reaching out to.
I find that success, quite simply, by looking at LinkedIn as the best networking party I could ever attend … and you can replicate my actions!
1. Showcase Your Credentials
You can’t be afraid to showcase what you’ve done. I’ve worked for an NFL team, many athletes across a number of sports, and been an entrepreneur for more than three years. It’s important that I say that clearly and directly within my profile.
LinkedIn Networking Party Analogy: How would you introduce yourself to someone at an in-person gathering? What are the most relevant things about your professional background? Make sure those are highlighted within your profile and let me know if you need help.
2. Strike Up A Conversation
Be a real person! Reach out to individuals in your network just to learn more about their businesses. Tell them you think they’re impressive or that you love reading their content on the platform. Send connection requests to individuals you don’t know with a note that compliments them or inquires about their work.
LinkedIn Networking Party Analogy: Don’t be that person at the party who keeps to him or herself or only talks to the one you drove with. Put yourself out there and learn about other people — you never know where you’ll find common ground or who you’ll end up collaborating with. The best leads are often disguised as irrelevant connections!
3. Take An Online World Offline
Let LinkedIn be a conduit to connecting with people over the phone or in person. I love scheduling calls with others in my industry just to talk for 15-20 minutes about who they are, what they do within their business, and their longterm goals. Sometimes that turns into a pitch for services, other times it’s just a conversation that helps me get better acquainted with someone.
LinkedIn Networking Party Analogy: One of the great things about networking parties is they allow you to inform others of what you do and who you target. You may meet someone who knows someone who is looking for someone just like you. That same phenomenon occurs through LinkedIn by connecting offline! Schedule an informational call and you may just hear, “Let me connect you with …”
Noteworthy: The Athlete Advantage
I don’t care what sport it was, whether you’re male or female, or whether you won a championship … playing sports at either of those levels is a point of conversation and something people want to be associated with.
As someone who worked in digital media for an NFL team for nearly 10 years, I can attest that this applies beyond those who play on the field or court. I accrued so many LinkedIn connections over that decade that are paying huge dividends now.
Okay, you may be thinking, that sounds great. How do I do that? I don’t want to come across as self-absorbed.
Fantastic question! Here is how you maximize that experience:
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your headline references your background in sports and that your experience is complete. There will be plenty of curious eyes on your profile — make it good!
- Show your depth. Athletes — especially those who aren’t headliners — are competitive, disciplined, and have plenty of stories to share. Remember that LinkedIn is a networking party — provide anecdotes as they pertain to your business objectives. Life and business lessons are always embedded in sports stories.
- Connect with relevant people. This includes other athletes, influencers, business professionals, and media. The key is to connect with them before you need something, but after you are well on your way with profile optimization and sharing content. Form the relationships now so you can ask for what you need later.
The moral of the story? Treat LinkedIn like the online networking party it is and build your business in the process!