Use LinkedIn to take the next step when you don't even know where to start

If you are starting a new phase in our career or business journey, it can be overwhelming: you don't know anybody who could help you, you have no network. You can create that network starting from scratch by interacting in LinkedIn conversations.

What is "Take Five Minutes"?


In this series I encourage you to take just five minutes out of your busy day to set yourself up for bigger, better success.

People wonder how they can make their dreams come true: very often, it's a matter of working out a way of making a small dent in a big ambition, putting the right systems in place, and making sure that it's easy for these systems to work.

I will share my own systems, so that you can test them and see whether they work for you.

If you want to share a five-minute system with my readers or indeed give me feedback on how this is working for you, tweet me @SusanHayes_

Remember, it only takes five minutes, right now, to change the course of history - your history at least!


Interact in LinkedIn conversations with helpful suggestions


Often people ask me how to take their first steps towards exporting; or perhaps they're wondering about how to return to the workplace after being out for a period of time; or they want to know how to move into a new industry. They're overwhelmed - where do you even start? What if you don't know anybody in the sector you want to join or go back to? Where will you find new contacts?

Join a few groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your goal. Then, monitor the conversations in those groups and, when it feels right, add relevant comments and helpful suggestions.

This is a great strategy:

  • to get a good feel for where the conversation is at in your industry: what are your peers talking about, what are your prospects struggling with?
  • to increase your profile and network remotely, especially when you can't network in person
  • to become known as a helpful and knowledgeable expert in your industry
  • to get back into the swing of things, at your own pace, if you're going back to work after time spent out of the workplace. It's great to "lurk" for a while before jumping in.
  • to gain confidence when you realise that you have expert knowledge that other people need to hear.

So take five minutes on a regular basis to monitor conversations on LinkedIn and see where you can add value. This strategy is especially great if you feel shy: you can practice striking up a conversation and offering valuable tips at a pace that feels good to you. However, if you're not shy, post away!

Comment by comment, post by post, you will be able to showcase your expertise and become known as the go-to specialist. You will be establishing yourself as a knowledgeable influencer, and you will always be at the front of people's minds.

LinkedIn Groups

These interactions will also provide free market research: you will see what people struggle with, what problems come up again and again. What's more, you will get to know your audience better, and they will get to know you as the solution to their problems!

Then, when it comes to going on a trade mission to a country of your choice, you will have an understanding of the "lie of the land".

If you're returning to the workplace, you will have key points to talk about in an interview, like the challenges of remote working or the proliferation of social media in traditional marketing strategies.

If you're making a move into a new industry through a full time education programme or a new job, you will have an organic, dynamic source of market research as you go.


"It feels very sales-y... Will I have to promote myself constantly?"


People come to LinkedIn to solve professional problems and find experts who know how to solve these problems: maybe they're looking to hire an employee or a contractor, maybe they want to keep up to date on a certain topic.

LinkedIn has been created especially for professionals to show what they know - there is an expectation that people are looking for a job, or for business, and some self-promotion is perfectly acceptable.

You could end some of your comments with "Please feel free to get in touch to see how I can help you", when relevant. However, you don't need to do this all the time if you don't feel comfortable; whether it is acceptable will also depend on the LinkedIn group.

So listen in, and do what feels comfortable for you, and what is acceptable in that specific LinkedIn group. You don't need to be more "sales-y" than you want to.

Related: How to become better at sales: 13 lessons learned in 10 years of selling

Podcast: Even if you don't think you do, you work in sales


"What if I can't help anybody because I don't know what to say?"


There is no obligation to jump into the fray immediately and to have something to say all the time. Listen and observe for a while. Get to know the people in a group, their tone and their concerns, from reading their messages.

Very soon, you will feel inspired to help out and you will see, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you have very valuable knowledge that others don't have.


"It sounds overwhelming, LinkedIn is such a big place!"


Remember, it doesn't have to take more than five minutes. You don't need to do it all day, every day.

Marketing yourself is something you could be doing 24/7, so it needs to find a specific time in your diary and have a clear objective.

You can tailor this to the amount of time you have available and to your strategic objectives: Do you want new clients? Do you want to keep up to date on industry developments? Are you looking for a job? Do you want to redefine yourself and change direction?

Start small and find just two or three groups to participate in - you don't need to be everywhere at once.

Watch the video: 5 key ways to define yourself and turbo-boost your career


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