As a new graduate to the workforce, getting your name out there soon becomes a top priority. When I joined Zeald I had only considered referrals in the sense of recruitment, in that if you know the right people they can suggest your name for a new position. But after only a few days at Zeald, I soon realised how important referrals are for businesses too. How do you get your name to the people you want to reach? Contacts you already know and have done business with are the hottest ticket.
You may have heard of LinkedIn, the networking site your marketing and HR people know all about. I was recently at a seminar when a man dismissed the idea of using it for his own business seeing it as another Facebook. My own dad has even sworn to never use it. It may seem like another social media contraption, but it has huge potential for anyone who uses it right!
LinkedIn puts you in front of your target audience by enlisting the help of people you already know. New Zealand is a very small country, I often marvel at the mutual friends I have with people who I met along the way. LinkedIn is great in that you can be introduced to desired people that your existing connections already know. Suddenly that supplier or potential client is not so far away.
Unfortunately, “don’t judge a book by its cover” fails here; you want people to look at your profile and want to know you!
What not to do:
Unfortunately, no one is going to take me seriously with this photo or profile. I have not filled it in properly, and I seem quite apathetic about work.
What to do:
In this profile, I have filled my title out properly, conveying that I am ready to work hard and am enthusiastic about my job. My photo is actually my work photo which is more friendly and professional. In this, someone who does not know me, would be able to place me in a work environment without much difficulty.
Get your photo right. It’s important people are able to see you in the workspace, avoid photos of partying or on holiday as you want to make connections, not drinking buddies.
Make the most of your title! Using your professional title here is a wasted opportunity; people want to know what you can do for them.
Make sure your tone is right, if you’re an expert, sell it! If you’re a worker bee, tell them!
Share your good news! If you have a new exciting project underway or have a photo in the local paper, let people know this; create your own buzz.
Write about activities or hobbies you enjoy. Someone who likes fishing is more likely to trust a fellow fisherman.
Avoid the temptation to add just anyone, make sure the people you connect with want to sell you, and vice versa.
Change the default note when connecting with people. Tell them how you know them, why you look forward to their connection, and sign off in a personal manner.
Join groups where you can meet people and discuss similar thoughts e.g. Small Business Network for start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Don’t be scared to ask for a testimonial. Choose people you have made a positive impact on professionally, and be specific in what you would like them to say.
Lastly, ask people to refer you, either find a connection they already have or someone they think would be good for you. In doing this, make sure you outline what you want from a future connection.