One of the most common concerns brought up in my training sessions – often by senior management professionals – is how to manage your time on LinkedIn. Make no mistake, if you let yourself wander, you may find you’ve blown through two hours bouncing around the site. When this happens, users frequently get angry with themselves and turn that anger on LinkedIn and may not return for a long while. Others may never come back.
So how do we beat the clock on LinkedIn?
There is a series of strategies I’ve developed that works extremely well for me. I’ve taught these strategies to others and have seen them become successful as well. Let’s get the lead out and save some time:
1. Log On Morning, Noon or Night: Now I’m not saying you need to be on three times per day. That’s an unrealistic goal for anyone, because no matter how successful you are using LinkedIn as a business tool, you still have your job to do.
I’m saying that before work, during lunch or after work are the best times to get caught up on LinkedIn. They’re times that don’t interfere with your normal daily work, times you have a little more flexibility and times you’re less likely to be interrupted.
2. Twice Per Week . . . Minimum: No matter how much total time you choose to devote to LinkedIn, you need to break that time up into at least two slots per week, minimum. There are several reasons for this:
A) You won’t go a whole week without addressing your LinkedIn inbox
B) It’s easier to split up tasks if you have multiple log-on days.
C) Priorities can be shifted on the 2nd day of the week.
Multiple time slots increase that flexibility I was talking about. So get your Link on at least twice per week.
3. Set LinkedIn “Appointments”: This is a very successful strategy. I literally book LinkedIn time in my calendar and/or email meeting scheduler and I don’t break it–just as if I was meeting with an important client. Once you start down the road of double-booking your LinkedIn time, the more frequently you’ll keep doing so. This is sacred “you” time.
4. Split Your LinkedIn Tasks Into Thirds: Big or small, super-user or newbie, one-third of your LinkedIn time should always be spent growing your network. This means addressing your inbox, accepting the appropriate invitations, inviting recently-met contacts to connect on LinkedIn and general network maintenance. This is not necessarily meant to make your LinkedIn network huge, but even users who connect only to people they know should be spending a significant portion of their LinkedIn time doing just that.
Another third should be spent in Groups and Answers. Participation in the LinkedIn community generates interest in you. I can’t stress this enough. Visit a select number of your groups (or all if you have a small number of them) and read recent discussions and respond, post your own discussion issues and read/ask questions under the Answers function. You can connect with others all day long, but without activity you will be soon forgotten. By using LinkedIn as a tool rather than a place to just post your information, you will be infinitely more successful at it.
The final third should be spent on everything else. This might include updating your profile, using Applications, lead generation, seeking out Recommendations, etc.
Since you’re dividing your time three ways, you may want to consider logging on three days per week instead of two. It’s just easier to divide your time that way, but as mentioned earlier, two is the minimum.
5. Constantly Adjust: Did you just make a sale on LinkedIn? Then up your time on it because it’s proven to be a money-generating tool. Are you working on a tough project at work this week? Then lower your time on LinkedIn accordingly. The total time spent on LinkedIn week-to-week cannot be static. It changes with business needs and goals just like everything else does.
Rule your time on LinkedIn or it will rule you. Using good strategies to help manage that time will maximize the efficiency of the tool and help prevent you from succumbing to the wily charms of the best professional networking site in the world.
Good luck and go sell.
[Michael Phelps is the VP of Research and a LinkedIn Trainer with Phelps Research Services. He is based out of Milwaukee, WI, and won’t rest until every B2B sales professional has made a sale using LinkedIn! Visit www.phelpsresearchservices.com today to learn more about how Phelps can train your business development staff to stop playing and start earning with social media.]