LinkedIn is the Best Networking Party You’ll Ever Attend

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!

Here’s how:

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

If you’ve played sports in college or within a professional league, I have one piece of advice regarding LinkedIn: exploit the heck out that experience.

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

influencer marketing

How to Leverage Influencer Marketing to Grow Your Brand

Any online promotional strategy should include an influencer marketing piece.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you. – Tap Influencer

I personally recommend that you focus on the organic side of this strategy. As a successful business owner, you have an audience that can provide something to the influencer, so paying or hiring someone isn’t necessary. The key is finding a mutual benefit between the two of you.

A Case Study Metaphor: Fitness Guru

Let’s say you are a fitness guru, building your business around online consultations. You have found success through referrals and have modest followings on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You’d like to expand your online reach as a way to automate your lead generation process.

You’ve believe influencer marketing can help you achieve this goal. Where do you start? There are a number of parameters to keep in mind when determining who you will reach out to, when, and how.

Who

Who will you reach out to? There are a few rules of thumb when considering the influencers you’re going to engage with as part of your influencer marketing strategy.

  1. Choose a non-competitor. Yes, your competitors will be the most relevant to your brand, but you don’t want to open that can of worms. Not only may you be perceived as trying to steal audience members from your competitors, you’re shifting the attention of your audience to someone else who offers your services.
  2. Choose a mid-level influencer. Don’t reach so high that your effort gets lost in a sea of tags and shoutouts. “Internet famous” people are inundated with messages and yours will easily get lost. There are exceptions to this, though, that we will get into another time.
  3. Choose a related industry professional. It’s important that the person you choose can benefit from your audience and vice versa. While there are situations in which you will simply post something and pray an influencer throws you a bone, it’s ideal to choose someone who will appreciate the additional traffic you are providing him or her.

When

Influencer marketing can happen anytime, but basing it around a particular article or event will generate the best results.

When someone in your field publishes an article, engages in an interview, or holds an event, he or she is looking to expand business reach. By giving a shoutout to that person in light of that content or event, you are becoming a part of their promotional strategy.

They will appreciate you recognizing their hard work and endorsing it as something others would benefit from.

How

How do you implement an influencer marketing strategy? You can write a blog on your website that mentions and links to the influencer, offer a shoutout on social media, or create a video that mentions the person or business.

The key is promoting what you do on a social media platform your influencer is a part of. Here are the best platforms for influencer marketing, ranked best to least best:

  1. Twitter. I LOVE Twitter for influencer marketing. You don’t have to get through any red tape to get to the person or brand you are engaging with and the benefit can be instant. If the brand you are engaging with retweets what you post, you’ve already expanded your reach. If you are engaging around a particular event, make sure you use that event’s hashtag.
  2. LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn is a B2B platform, you are going to get a lot of bang for your buck when you tag someone else within the news feed. Mention someone within an original blog you write and then post it along with a tag. You can also share content from an influencer on your timeline and give it a little endorsement while tagging the person or brand. This will expand your reach, but it will also nudge someone you are trying to woo into becoming a client or customer.
  3. Instagram. You can repost someone’s photo on Instagram, comment, or share. If you have a big, relevant following, reposting with their handle will go a long way. If you don’t know how to repost within Instagram, check out repostapp.
  4. Facebook. The best way to gain traction on Facebook is to share someone else’s post and tag their page when you do. This most taps into the “good karma” category. It’s a good strategy if you’re looking to gain this person or brand as a lead for your business because you’re starting out the relationship by giving them something for nothing.

Finishing Our Case Study

Now that we’ve gone through all of that, let’s finish our case study. Our fitness guru is looking to expand reach to automate lead generation. How might she tap into influencer marketing to do that?

  • Find complementary services. Fitness goes hand-in-hand with diet and nutrition. While our guru may offer services around diet plans, she can share recipes from healthy eating brands,  articles written about clean eating, or other fitness gurus that work in a different niche. For example, if our fitness guru specializes in yoga, she could share the work of a weightlifter. For everything she shares, she would tag the handle of the brand.
  • Tap into challenges. Twitter and Instagram are great platforms to find people engaging in a particular activity because of the use of hashtags. Research the top hashtags for training for a 5K or marathon and comment on the posts of those people. During the race, use the event hashtag to offer encouragement to those participating and give a shoutout to the face facilitator.
  • Engage the stars. Once a strong enough following is built (at least 1,000 followers on each platform), our fitness guru can work to engage in conversation with some of the stars in her industry. Comment on their articles, compliment their business, and express admiration!
  • Engage the media. A great influencer marketing strategy on Twitter is to engage media that covers your industry. Our guru can retweet articles and reply to tweets to compliment content they’ve created (she’ll want to reference the content so they know she actually read it). Once she’s built a rapport with those media members, she can start pitching them for her own stories.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it, and there is plenty more where that came from! While these are great tips that apply to any business, digging into the customization of each brand and each target will open up even more possibilities.

How have you tapped into influencer marketing? What has it done for your business?