In the last 12 months I’ve put extra effort into growing my LinkedIn following – it’s working very well. It’s not just about the numbers (followers have doubled from 1700 to almost 5700) but more importantly, the valuable business connections I’ve made for event speakers, podcast guests and industry expertise.
Here’s a summary of my process – you can do this too:
1. Reach out to a lot more people through Linkedin – I use the ‘People you may know’ feature under the ‘My Network’ tab and send about 10 connection requests very day. LinkedIn suggests these according to who I’m already connected with, and at other times I will do a search for something like ‘restaurant owner Australia’. About 3 out of 10 requests are accepted – not a huge number but very useful.
2. Accept (almost) all connection requests, unless clearly unrelated to hospitality. But even some of those can be valuable – if I accept a request from a person who appears to have no industry connection, I will message them saying ‘I’m curious about how you found me – do you have plans for a hospitality business?” It’s surprising how many times people come back and say Yes! IT guy today, cafe owner tomorrow.
3. Ask people to connect – I invite people at the start of each Profitable Hospitality podcast, and at industry events where I speak. They’re sometimes sending an invitation as you request it!
4. Check new connections and if they look particularly interesting or relevant, reply with a friendly message. Here’s the one I use:
“Hi (Jan) – thanks for connecting. I hope 2018 is going well, with lots of happy customers… Ken
PS you may be interested to listen to my podcast on hospitality management and marketing – look for Profitable Hospitality on iTunes or SoundCloud.”
I have this set up as an auto-text message on my computer and iPad, so I don’t have to retype each time. It’s relevant for 90% of people, and a majority of people reply back, with a question or a comment, or telling me how we’ve met previously. Or saying they found me through the podcast! THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT for creating real relationships, not just numbers.
Extra activities for even more influence:
5. Share interesting articles you find, on the Linkedin timeline – when you drop in the link, a preview of the article will appear. Add a short comment to personalise it, and why you chose it e.g. ‘I believe these 3 digital trends will be the top priority for kitchen management in the next 12 months…’. When you sound like an authority, people will treat you like one!
6. Watch and comment on the timeline. I find many interesting stories related to my interest, and like Facebook, LinkedIn attempts to show you those of most relevance. You can give a ‘thumbs up’ or post or a short comment. I’ve made some great connections this way.