Guest Post by Johanna Mills, Marketing & Business Development Manager
Once upon a time, a pandemic spread across the globe, making in-person networking a near impossibility.
Many millennials and almost all zoomers were already doing most of their networking online (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, Slack, Reddit, WhatsApp, Discord, multi-player video games, Among Us marathons, etc.) and were very familiar with navigating the digital universe. This pandemic did not interrupt their ability to connect to their friends and favourite influencers/celebs. If anything, their networks grew.
Some tech-forward Gen-X-ers and prodigious boomers were comfortable with Facebook and had perhaps even strayed over to Instagram if only to see what their kids and grandkids were up to. So, while they were still able to waste hours of their lives scrolling through other peoples’ unfounded opinions, and remain in tenuous touch, they were starting to miss connecting with many of their friends and colleagues as the pandemic wore on.
And then there were the rest, who by generational default, or by personal choice, had eschewed social media, and had thus far remained true to the in-person business lunch/micro-brewpub hang, industry glad-handing event/local meetup group, and ubiquitous golf/frisbee-golf game.
What were these folks to do if they wanted to stay in touch with their clients, and even more importantly, their POTENTIAL CLIENTS during a pandemic? The most they could hope for was to run into an acquaintance in the liquor store line-up and hope it was slow-moving enough, and that you still had sufficient hearing, to set up a phone call later in the week.
Did you know that during the Spanish Flu, new client acquisition dropped by 90%? I have no idea if this is true, but it could be. And do you know why? Because they did not have the internet. That’s right. There was no convenient, free, and safe online marketplace to meet, share knowledge, make valuable connections, and get new business. They also didn’t have antibiotics. Poor buggers.
Luckily for us, we do not have to risk our health to connect with our clients and referral sources. And it does not cost us a red cent, for those Canadians who remember pennies.
You simply need to set up a free LinkedIn account, start connecting with your friends, colleagues, competitors, and relevant community, industry, and trade associations (especially as relates to your clients or potential clients), and exes (optional) – and engage with your connections for a few minutes each day.
Many well-intentioned folks created LinkedIn accounts that they went on to not use, which is almost worse than having an account at all. It’s like putting up a shiny new store sign in front of an abandoned building. And then people walk by that building and they get a creepy haunted feeling. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but it definitely sends a message that you lack follow-through.
Okay, maybe that’s still a bit much – but if I get a referral for someone, and I go check them out online, and it’s clear they haven’t spent any time updating their LinkedIn profile, and then I check out my other referral who has a recent picture, a ton of great connections, recent experience listed and has published an article or two in the last year on the topic I am interested in – well, I am probably more likely to reach out to them first. It’s called opportunity cost. Look it up (I had to).
All of this to say, to not take advantage of LinkedIn to find clients is like wanting a romantic partner, but never leaving the house. Yes, you’ll get set up on some dates, and they may occasionally be fun, but your soulmates may be at the party and you’ll never know. Also, you are polygamous. That way the anecdote works better.
So, all said, set some time aside to dedicate to your LinkedIn account. There are tons of great how-to videos on YouTube. Do it when you would have watched Emily in Paris. It’s a much better use of your time and you won’t feel sullied afterward.
I promise that if you start using LinkedIn properly, you will get richer. Or definitely not poorer. And at least you can say you tried!
Johanna Mills is the Marketing and Business Development Manager at a law firm in Vancouver, Canada. Connect with Johanna on LinkedIn.