I used to think the same – but then I went on some training and found out how useful it can be! So… here are my insights.
1) Get your profile complete. Get a good head shot and ensure you include your contact details, what your business does (not necessarily your job title) in the “professional headline” section. If people don’t know who you are and what you do they aren’t going to connect to you.
2) I know it says only “follow people you know” – but the benefit of linked in is that you can ask to link with people you don’t know at all. So do a people search. Find the contacts you want to connect with and ask them directly if you can! You can either do this the “correct” way and asked to be introduced… or, you can do it sneakily and say you’re their “friend” and simply add some information in the contact request to say why you’d like to connect. As most folk are looking to expand their network – so most are happy to connect with you. Make sure you connect with everyone else who asks and take time to see who they know when you have. They might know someone you want to speak to!
3) Follow up your new connections with an email intro. This doesn’t have to be long, and can be something simple like “Thank you for connecting with me on linked In. Do let me know if there is anything I can do for you or if I can help you make a connection to anyone else.”
4) When you get to the connections you want to have – then email them and ask them if you are OK to get in touch / send them some information about yourself. (This is good for businesses – not necessarily for writers. It works for me in business as I have a brochure I can send people. It probably won’t work for writers trying to break into the market… but I suppose it depends on which connections you make!)
5) Finally for my fellow BNIers… listen out in the meeting for who people want to connect with and go back from the meeting and plug those names into LinkedIn. You may have a connection to them, or may be able to get one. When you have – then introduce your fellow BNI person and see if you can get that referral for them.