In the last couple of years, I’ve put extra effort into growing my LinkedIn following – it’s working very well. It’s not just about the numbers (followers have zoomed from 1700 to more than 12,000) 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 – when I’m doing presentations or speaking at an event, I ask people to send me a Linkedin invitation so we can stay in touch.
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 2020 is going well, it’s a challenging year. Let me know if there’s anything I can assist you with… cheers, Ken
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 tell me how we’ve met previously. This step is very useful 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.