So what is Linked In?
I went to a seminar recently with James Potter who calls himself ‘The Linked In Man’ as that is his work (alongside entertaining public speaking)! James differentiated between social media as “buy my stuff” and networking as “meeting people”. LI, he says, is a little different – he calls it “social networking”.
We get to know people a little first – be it by liking a comment they make on a discussion group or reading their profile and even ‘chatting’ with them in a discussion before linking with them. Another way to be social is if we notice someone who could be helpful to us is already linked to someone we know and we can ask for an introduction. This type of social interaction is often the bit that therapists miss out in their marketing. I have lost count of the number of therapists who have sent out a general mailshot, email or invitation to loads of people and complained at hearing nothing back. It is rare that they have made some sort of social interaction with these people first so no wonder the response to their contact is poor.
Writing your Linked In profile
I always say the best place to start is to write something! I encourage therapists to just start the process. Get your name, contact details and the heading completed. Well done. Sleep on it. Then do a little summary with the key things you help with, and your special areas (these are the things the LI system will build your endorsements for). Sleep on it again. The more familiar we are with what we have written, the less exposing it feels, and reviewing it the next day creates familiarity. Get a friend to check it out too. When you are comfortable with that, then look at what you would like to write in the main part. You don’t have to list every job you have had like a CV – choose only what you feel happy with people knowing about you.
The Linked In Man has done his research. He knows that if someone is trying to find, for example, people who work as managers within a 50 mile radius of Bridgewater that there are forty on LI who won’t be found. That is because they have made a simple mistake in their job title – they appear as “mangers”. You might not be sure about how you have described yourself on your profile but you can at least be sure everything is spelt correctly. Read it through. Then read it through again in the morning. Ha! That will catch any blips of awareness.
Contact your viewers
On your home page there is a list of who has viewed your profile. I bet you wonder why they looked at your profile. Were they looking for your service? Did they like a comment you made a discussion? There is one way to find out – contact them. Say “hello, I noticed you viewed me, I’m learning how LI works and wonder what attracted you” or “if you know someone who could benefit from what I offer, please don’t hesitate to ask any questions” or some such friendly comment.
This way you get to learn stuff about how others see you. You also portray yourself as approachable.
Should I put a photo on my Linked In profile?
Some interesting facts from The Linked In Man are relevant here. Apparently those people with photos get seven times more engagement than those without. Incidentally, this figure is the same for internet dating! Also 86% of people don’t trust someone they can’t see, so make it easier for yourself by braving the photo.
I have a tip if you hate all your photos. Ask a friend which photo of you they like then look at it in a mirror. Bet you will like it a whole lot more! This is because few of us have completely symmetrical faces and we are used to seeing ourselves in the mirror so to see a photo is to see our asymmetry the wrong way round and it looks horrible to us. If what you see in the mirror is what you like, this photo is a good representation of you.
Who do I link with?
All this work is not much use if we don’t engage in the social and networking elements of LI. Link with people you know, and ask to link with people who interest you. Amend your invite to be a personal one rather than the standard one LI sends for you. “I saw you speak at a conference recently and would like to connect” or “we work in the same clinic although we haven’t met yet” gives a handle for people to engage with you – again, it’s personal and friendly and that is what social networking is about.
I engage with people in my therapeutic field, with people in other businesses who I have met in person, and sometimes with people I hear giving a public talk or have read an article, comment, etc which I liked. No one refuses a friendly engagement or a compliment for something you have enjoyed.
This is not about directly getting clients, but about growing the number of people who know you and what you do. When they need to refer someone, it would be nice if you came to mind and that will only happen if they have come to know, like and trust you.
Which groups should I join?
It is easiest to start with a social networking group aimed at therapists. Please join Successful Private Practice SW UK – we are a friendly bunch here to help !
Have a look at what groups others in your profession have joined then pick one or two to start with. Assess the quality of discussions – if there is no discussion going on, don’t bother, as the group is inactive or just being used to post blogs which serving as adverts.
I also recommend you join a general business/networking group for your area. This may be around a particular area you want to know more about yourself, like Social Media. Discussions are responded to well. I find asking a question of a bunch of social media geeks (for example) is helpful, not just by getting your question answered, but by them getting to know you.
As a minimum, click a ‘like’ on people’s comments you enjoy, but better still, make a comment yourself, even if brief. Both make you a little more visible.
Does it work?
My answer is yes, but slowly and in various ways. I have built confidence from a cautious start to being very active on LI. I have had a few clients from LI and also a lot of help and valuable knowledge shared. I have found it is a way to keep myself visible and friendly with people who I have met elsewhere – to really be social. I try to check in a couple of times a week to the home page where I see the updates of all my contacts and so can easily congratulate someone on a new job, comment on a discussion they have posted, read and like the new blog of a professional writer who I have learnt a lot from.
Keep an open mind about where social networking can take you and let me know how it goes!
PS Do you get annoyed by those recruitment ads that seem to appear in some discussion groups? According to James, apparently those guys fund our free membership – I discovered I feel a lot more tolerant of them now…
© Cathy Towers 2013