A majority of meeting planners and hotel sales associates have a profile on LinkedIn, as they should! Being in such a social and transactional industry, its important to keep an accurate profile so we can all connect with each other when business needs to be conducted. Its also a great place to share content with one another in our industry.
Before we go accepting every single invitation from potential contacts, here are some tips on how to best to use this robust career-building tool as a connector:
- Ensure your profile is complete – trust and relationships can only be established if they can get a sense of who you are. Complete your profile today using LinkedIn’s tips. Focus on your summary and how your skills relate to others. Its great that you’re a sales manager, but what does that mean to your reader?
- Extend invitations only to people you have met or talked to! – The premise of LinkedIn is to connect with people, and to connect your connections to other people. If you have not met someone, or communicated with them enough to ascertain their character, you cannot in good faith connect them with other individuals. Often in our industry, a majority of our relationships are forged through email and telephone; if you feel you can access a person’s character and working style through the business you conducted via email and phone, you can extend or accept an invitation. If you have not ever met them, or ever talked to them, I would suggest learning more about them before accepting.
- Connect with a personal message – LinkedIn has a templated message that goes out to potential connections letting them know you want to connect. If you want your request to stand out from the rest, send a personalized note, perhaps including where you met, what project you are working on, or some other point of reference.
- Vet invitations with a message – to vet potential connections further, you may want to send a message asking the sender why they want to connect with you. To “collect” connections is not the point of LinkedIn, so be selective and make sure the connections make sense to both parties. Before declining a LinkedIn invitation, you may want to send them a message. If they don’t respond, that may be the answer you needed to accept their invitation or not.
- Stay connected with contacts – every so often, go through your contacts and do a couple of things
- disconnect – if you cannot remember who a person was, or how you connected, you may wish to remove them
- recommend contacts – can you provide value by connecting colleagues with one another? Its why LinkedIn exists, so lets ensure we do it!
- endorsements – endorse your contacts for skills and expertise they possess – you may see some endorsements in return 🙂
- Groups – get involved in group discussions by offering your advice and expertise, or post a discussion on a hot topic to get others chatting. Be careful about posting your services or employer’s services in group discussion boards, that isn’t the place to do it and you may risk being removed from a group if you solicit business there.
We’ve all received the generic LinkedIn message before, and a majority of them came to you through a “mass invitation button” on the sender’s system (see point #2 below). If your goal is to have strong meaningful contacts and connection, I encourage you to vet them with a follow up message. A few things may happen when you extend a message, which can help make your decision to “accept” or “decline” their invitation easier:
- Crickets – sometimes you do not hear from the connection – this is a good sign they are likely not a great connection for you to collect
- “Not sure why I connected” – LinkedIn (at the time of writing this article) has a feature where you can “mass invite” people to your network. If someone uses this feature, there’s a chance they have never met or heard of you before, but blindly hit a mass-invitation button
Below is an actual LinkedIn conversation I had with someone that extended me a generic LinkedIn invitation. Can you guess whether or not I accepted his invitation? 😊
Invitation (generic LinkedIn message) – “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
My message – Hi “Joe”, I received your invitation to connect with you via LinkedIn today. Joe, have you and I met before? Thanks in advance.
Joe’s response – Hi Leanne, I’m at XYZ Hotel training and they suggested that we connect with HelmsBriscoe contacts in our area.
Yikes. Sorry Joe. No connection from me today.
There are a number of ways I would have preferred to hear from Joe, below is an example of one such way that may have garnered a different response.
Invitation (custom LinkedIn message) – Hi Leanne, my name is Joe Smith with XYZ Hotel out of Edmonton. You and I have not met before but I would like to connect with you to see how we can start conducting business together. May I reach out to you via email or phone to set up a time to connect and see if our hotel is a good fit for your client’s programs?
Another great feature of LinkedIn is the ability to share content via articles, posts and sharing other people’s content. I enjoy reading the content on LinkedIn, but occasionally I will come across some questionable content that likely broke one of my LinkedIn content rules.
- Ensure content is career/job/professional development related – If your content is something only your friends and family members would be interested in, take the content over to Facebook or Instagram. LinkedIn is not the place for status updates and pictures of your artistic lunch salad.
- No controversial views – LinkedIn works similarly to other social media platforms, where what you post online stays online. Posting controversial views on topics can be viewed by current employers, potential future employers, colleagues and connections. If you wouldn’t say something in the work room or a job interview, its best not to be posted on LinkedIn
- Grow your personal brand! – Your content should relate to your brand, or your employer’s brand, tips found here; LinkedIn is a great place to promote your personal brand as long as its not controversial in nature and provides value to the reader.
LinkedIn is one of my favourite tools for connecting with my industry and growing my brand – take a look at it today to grow your own brand in the events industry!
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