Conversations from the Corner Office, by Jaymi Butler with Seth Garber, CRO, ID Plans
LinkedIn has always felt like a bit of a mystery to me, which is probably why I didn’t sign up for an account until 2012. Better (10 years) late than never, right?
Once I finally took the plunge and created my profile, uploaded my resume, and added a few people to my network, I realized I still wasn’t really sure what to do now that I was “LinkedIn.” Should I start posting links to articles that made me look smart? Trying to connect with important people in my industry? Signing up for a premium subscription? It all seemed kind of overwhelming, so I chose the path of least resistance. I did nothing, occasionally logging in to accept follow requests or scroll idly through my newsfeed. All the while, I felt like I was missing out on something, some secret that would unlock my full networking potential and make me wonder why I’d waited so long to sign up.
This is why I was so intrigued when Seth and I connected on LinkedIn a few years ago. This guy I knew personally had the following message on his profile:
What??? I thought only people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet could max out their LinkedIn connections (at 30,000, by the way). Plus, Seth had an additional 30,000 people following him. How was this possible? What was he doing to create so many connections? I needed answers, so I decided to focus this week’s Conversations from the Corner Office on LinkedIn and why it’s so important, especially in the world of commercial real estate.
SG: I’ve been on LinkedIn since its inception [in 2002]. I saw it as an opportunity to take my networking efforts and expand them to a national, and now international, level. I maxed out my number of connections about two years ago.
SG: When I started using LinkedIn, I saw it mainly as a tool to introduce myself to people I’d met in the past – people I’d done business with or had at least spoken with before – and I created a regimented strategy to build followers. I would spend 30 minutes before work identifying these people and connecting with them – this was phase one. After that, I started seeking out peers in my industry. Now, I look for C-Suite commercial real estate professionals who we do business with at ID Plans and work on building connections with them. I’d say I still spend about 30 minutes each day looking at LinkedIn and cultivating my network.
SG – One of the great functionalities in LinkedIn is that it allows you to connect with people fast, but I actually find that speed can devalue the relationships. I mean, you can send out dozens of generic messages that say, “so-and-so wants to connect with you on LinkedIn,” and that effectively makes your outreach meaningless.
SG: You have to make it personal. Instead of sending a generic message, make it more human. This is incredibly important, especially in sales. When I want to connect with someone new, I do a little research so I can write a message that’s 100 percent personalized. For example, if the person is involved in a charity and it’s something I have a personal interest in, I’ll write them a message that mentions the charity and my connection to it. Now, if it’s a charity I have no vested interest in, I won’t go that route because I want to be very genuine in my communication. I’ll just keep researching until I find a topic I can connect with them about authentically. Then I send them a nice hello message that also demonstrates I’ve gone the extra mile to learn more about them.
SG – Very successful. I’d say I get replies and make new connections 90 percent of the time. I also really appreciate it when someone does the same when reaching out to me. I get 300-400 messages every week on LinkedIn – the ones I choose to read are the ones I can tell that the person did a little bit of research.
SG – I see a lot of people trying to create content just to get engagement. Whether they’re copying and pasting from an article or posting the same meaningless quotes that have been shared a million times, people catch on pretty quickly and it can devalue you. Also, I see people focusing on the number of followers they have versus the quality of their database. It’s not like Facebook or Instagram. This isn’t a popularity contest.
SG – I think it’s a little bit of both. The value of quantity is that it can create validation from other people who see you have a lot of followers and are therefore more inclined to pay attention what you have to say. On the flip side, the value of quality is that it creates more opportunities for you. One thing I recommend to everyone is that they cleanse their database regularly, whether they have 100 followers or 30,000. I add and take away people all the time based on how meaningful our relationship is.
SG – In my experience, my posts that get over 100,000 views and drive the largest amount of engagement tend to be brief stories about a situation I’m dealing with that end with me asking for advice and feedback. I don’t ask generic things like, “What’s your best sales strategy?” because even though you’ll probably get tons of replies, it’s ultimately not very valuable information. Be specific with what you’re looking for and make it relevant in order to get quality engagement, not just engagement for engagement’s sake.
SG – I think it comes back to providing quality, original content that demonstrates a level of thoughtfulness. If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to pretend that you’re an expert on everything in your field, nor should you. Start small. If you’re in real estate, get involved in some local groups and use what you learn to create posts that will be interesting and informative to other people in your industry. Then, as you get more experience and learn more about what’s going on, you can expand your focus and establish yourself as a thought leader – you’ll see your number of connections really start to grow.
Basically, though, a good rule of thumb is to post when it’s relevant, and don’t get discouraged if you’re not getting responses. Just keep trying and if you continue to produce quality content, you’ll eventually start getting traction, responses and interaction.
Want to know more about LinkedIn? Check out our next Conversations from the Corner Office where we’ll talk about how to use LinkedIn in a job search, and find out what employers are really looking for.
ID Plans can help you with more than just your LinkedIn presence. For more information on our innovative property management software solutions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.