By Jason Donn
LinkedIn is an incredible tool for the real estate industry in terms of networking with clients, qualified professionals and industry leaders. But without taking the proper steps, you may find yourself struggling to connect and grow your business to its highest potential. We’ve come up with some essential steps to follow to make sure you are getting the most out of LinkedIn.
Sell Yourself Through Your Profile
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s true when you go on a blind date, when going on a job interview, and certainly when someone comes across your profile on LinkedIn. If your profile is incomplete or unclear, you can bet a potential client is moving on to find someone else to work with.
LinkedIn will guide you in providing relevant information about yourself, but it’s important to make an extra effort in filling out your profile. One to five-word answers are not helping your cause. You want to make sure that anyone who comes across your profile understands who you are, what you do and the types of services you can provide. You should also include:
• Professional Interests
• Enriching Past Experiences
One of the most important parts of the LinkedIn profile is the headline beneath your name. While it seems like an inconsequential blurb that tells people what you do, it may be the single most important line of text in your profile. Think of it as a newspaper headline.
Every Sunday morning you sit down with your coffee and start scanning the headlines for interesting articles. The story with the most interesting headline is usually where you start reading. It is also the story you are most likely to tell others about, as long as the story is complete.
You need to have a compelling headline with a completed profile backing it up. LinkedIn users are looking to connect with competent people whom they can benefit from. No one wants to try and find out more information about you, only to see that very little of your profile is actually filled out. If someone comes across your profile headline, your goal is to make them want to find out more about you by continuing to read down the page.
Example: John Q Public – Mortgage Broker – Trying to network with real estate agents and customers. His headline reads:
“Mortgage Broker with 20 years of experience.”
The above headline is pretty vanilla. It is what you would expect from about 80 percent of all mortgage brokers to have as their headline. John doesn’t stand out. If I’m a potential client, here are my assumptions based on that headline:
“John is an older man that’s been in the business a long time. He’s probably someone that is comfortable with existing loan programs that have gotten the job done in the past. He isn’t concerned about emerging opportunities or programs that might help save me some money should I do business with him. He might be at the end of his career and just trying to earn a few extra dollars before retiring.”
You are probably saying to yourself, “That’s not fair. You are making a lot of assumptions about someone you don’t even know.” And you would be right. However, the reality is, people make those snap judgements every day. It doesn’t make it right – but it happens. As quick as that judgement was made, I’ve moved on to someone else’s profile even quicker. So what should John have written?
“Experienced and cutting-edge broker providing innovative mortgage solutions to clients.”
What makes this better? The headline makes you ask some questions and piques interest in who John is, including…
“What makes John so cutting edge?”
“What kind of experience does John have?”
“What kind of innovative mortgage solutions does John know about?”
“Where does John work that allows him to be so innovative?”
All you want is to generate that little bit of interest that keeps your profile in front of a potential networking opportunity. Once they are hooked, a completed profile will give you the best opportunity to make some kind of connection. You may have a shared hometown, gone to the same college or maybe even worked in the same building and never knew it. If someone is making an effort to find out more about you, the chances of working together have exponentially increased.
Building Your Network
Important to remember is that networking is not a one-way street. Too many times people get caught up in the notion of, “What can you do for me?” Instead you should be figuring out ways to get in front of someone. Fortunately, when it comes to LinkedIn, you can let people know exactly how you can help through contacting them and asking people to be a part of your network.
Your easiest connections will be with those you already know. Co-workers, friends, business associates and even your significant other should be a part of your LinkedIn network. Once this first level of connections have been established, you will then be able to view the profiles of everyone they know. You can see how once you get the ball rolling, connections can be picked up easily as you start going down the hill of a broadening network.
Your initial connection with contacts that you trust gives you a better chance of growing a reliable network. If everyone works toward building their LinkedIn network methodically and carefully, everyone can benefit from stable business connections. Soon you will find yourself connecting across a broad range of industries. A friend of someone in your network may be looking for real estate assistance. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were referred to you or if they told them, “I know the perfect person who can help you.” If you got even one deal out of building your LinkedIn network, wouldn’t it be worth it?
Benefit From Your Connections
Your network has been established, but what’s next? There are many reasons why people use LinkedIn. Most popular is networking to find job opportunities. If you are in the real estate industry, the main objective is to grow your business. Look over all your connections and see who might be able to help you generate business.
If you are, for example, a real estate agent, you may be networked with a small-business owner or CEO of a company. You could offer your services to their employees who may be relocating to the area. Or maybe you are a lender that has connected with a homebuilder. He or she might need someone they can trust to offer financing to potential customers. In other words, don’t look at your network in such black and white terms of client or competition.
Talking with your connections will help you find out how they conduct their business. Learn about what works and what does not for others in similar positions as you. Conversely, take part in discussions and questions that are posed by your fellow LinkedIn members. You stand to benefit more if people in your network know that you are someone they can trust and provide answers. Sometimes just checking in with the people on your LinkedIn network can cut down on the cold, business aspect of life. People appreciate it when they are asked how life is going – especially if it isn’t followed up by a business proposal.
Social Networking Management
Changes in technology have caused people to adapt and generate new ideas. As a result, an expectation has been set that requires everyone to continuously be moving or risk being left behind. The same goes for your LinkedIn profile. Your situation changes sometimes daily, weekly or monthly. Your profile should reflect those changes and you can expect that changes by others could help you down the road. A connection of yours might have gotten a promotion and is now in charge of hiring for a company. Maybe a client you are working with is looking for employment. You can introduce the two parties and help grow your credibility in the meantime.
Any time you go to a Chamber luncheon or meet someone and exchange business cards, your next step is to check out their LinkedIn profile. What a great way to make an impression if you can immediately connect with them by sending them a message through LinkedIn saying, “It was great meeting you today. I am looking forward to helping you in any way that I can in the future. Let’s set up a time to meet for lunch and talk further.” Keep the focus on helping them rather than what they can do for you.
A great way to make yourself an expert in the LinkedIn world is through the world of groups. Groups are set up by fellow LinkedIn members and can cover a variety of topics from “small-business owners” to more focused groups such as “Miami Real Estate Agents.” By joining groups you have the opportunity to meet fellow industry leaders. You can discuss relevant topics and provide an avenue for people from across the country or in your own backyard to connect. The idea is the same. Answer questions and pose your own. Work together to create a solid group and an even better network connection.
Hot Tip on Groups
Join an open networker group. Become an open networker. What’s an open networker and an open networker group on LinkedIn? An open networker on LinkedIn is a user that accepts all invitations and should never respond to an invitation with “I don’t know”. An open networker group is a group that proclaims itself as such: TopLinked, LION(LinkedIn Open Networkers or Leading International Open Networkers), and the most important one to join if you have anything to do with the real estate industry is the Real Estate Open Networkers(REON) and Building New Real Estate Connections. REON is by far the largest open network group for the real estate industry. It ranks 157 out of ALL 430,000 groups on LinkedIn and is specifically for real estate and the related industries. Chances are if you are reading this you are already a member of the Real Estate Open Networkers group. Now share any of these groups with your connections. Someone will usually thank you and that in itself increases your online reputation.
Following the above steps will get your LinkedIn profile primed for developing network connections beyond your own belief. What might seem like a lot of work is actually a lot of common sense. Yes, you will have to be creative and write a little more about yourself than you may be comfortable doing. But the end result is definitely worth the extra time. After all, if you are not willing to put the time into branding yourself, why would someone who needs your help think you would have time for them?
Happy Networking!!! eRealEstateSocial.com
By Jason Donn