I have found LinkedIn to be a very helpful tool to enhance my networking experience at BNI. I use the “free” version of LinkedIn so my capabilities are limited a bit compared to the “Premium” version but still very valuable.
I like the analogy that everyone comes into BNI with a set of keys. Each member then has the opportunity to request a specific door to be opened. The member with the key to that specific door will then open it for them.
The keys represent the relationships that everyone has with people in the community. The request to open a door represents the specific person that a member asks to be introduced to during their sales manager moment. Then the member with that relationship can make the introduction.
When I connect with my fellow networkers in LinkedIn I can see each of their “sets of keys” or relationships in the section labeled “Connections” on their profile page. I can then go through those connections to see which of those people may be a good prospect for my services knowing that my fellow BNI member may be able to introduce them to me.
Each connection listed shows the person's name and the company they work for along with their position in the company. Then by clicking on a connection you can go to their profile page and learn even more information about them. I like to do that to find their website link to visit their site to see if there is an area I can help them with. If so they become a person I ask for an introduction to during my sales manager moment.
Another way to use LinkedIn to enhance your networking is to listen to the update feed. I like to look through the feed for a couple of things. I like to look for opportunities to like, share, or give a testimonial to what my fellow members are sharing in their updates. This helps to strengthen their posts and gain more visibility. Secondly I like to watch for opportunities to refer my fellow members when it looks appropriate to do so on an update post. For example, if someone shares an article link talking about the need for sound financial advice I can comment on the great job our group’s financial advisor does for me. Then hopefully someone will contact me and ask to be introduced and I can make the referral.
In BNI we are always working on building our relationships and trust within the group and that leads me to the third way that LinkedIn helps in my networking experience. As I use fellow members services and / or refer them and get feedback I can go into their profile and share a testimonial for them in the “Recommendations” section. This does a couple of things. It helps to strengthen and affirm my relationship with that member and it helps to make them look good when other people view their profile.
I’m sure there are additional ways to utilize LinkedIn to help enhance one’s BNI networking experience so please share how you use it in the comments section below!
Finally here are some LinkedIn tips (PDF) if you are new to the platform and need help getting started as well as the networking tips above.