UPDATE: As of early 2017, this feature is no longer available in LinkedIn. While LinkedIn remains one the most widely recognized social media platforms for business, we recommend augmenting your digital relationships with a third-party CRM system.
LinkedIn is widely accepted as the top business social platform internationally. No longer considered a place for a static, digital version of a resume, the platform has evolved into a vibrant and active community for business-focused individuals. Most importantly, it has become a personal branding and networking tool that can act as a vital part of your client relationship management (CRM) activities if used regularly and with purpose.
A Client Relationship Management (CRM) tool is a program or process that assists in managing your relationships. Think of a Rolodex and a file cabinet. Today, the simplest versions of CRM are maintained within email systems and the most complex are integrated into proprietary corporate systems or supplied by service providers (software as a service or SAS) for a monthly subscription. Incorporating LinkedIn into your relationship-management activities can help you increase effectiveness of researching and connecting with clients and prospects.
Advantages to using LinkedIn as a CRM tool:
- Perfect way to capture and store information about contacts digitally
- Ideal if looking to boost your LinkedIn game
- Nice alternative to higher priced or over-the-top CRM tools
From the individual’s profile page, scroll down to the “relationship” tab. There are four key categories under which you can gather and save information to which only you have access: Note, Reminder, Tags, and Email
- Note: This is a catch-all space for you to capture and store information about contacts that may not be included in a public profile. Details you might list include: family member names, pet names, preference for meetings in an office or meetings over lunch, referrals or names of other connections key to your clients, etc.
- Reminders: Time flies and the most important aspects of maintaining a relationship, any relationship, are to be top of mind and to provide value. List important dates for mandatory reminders (like contract renewals) or arbitrary dates to simply reach out and see what’s going on in their world.
- Tags: Here, LinkedIn makes it possible for you to filter your contacts into friends, colleagues, vendors, etc. Have some unique groups within your contacts? No problem. Simply, add a new tag.
- Email: LinkedIn stores any email conversations created WITHIN the platform here, making it ideal to quickly view the last time you reached out via LinkedIn email and what you discussed. This feature will not capture emails sent outside of LinkedIn, such as correspondence through Outlook or Gmail, so keep correspondence within LinkedIn high-level. If you do not see this option and its corresponding envelope icon, you have not emailed the individual through LinkedIn (and that’s okay).
By following these simple steps, you can easily add to or build in more efficiency to your networking efforts. Ultimately, these steps lay the foundation for a more strategic networking practice.