LinkedIn is the most powerful professional social media platform, and yet it’s the most under-utilized of all the platforms in the travel industry. Why? My opinion is that most professionals in travel do not know what the real point is and view this business development tool as another social media time-suck, or they simply do not know what to make of this social media outlet.
In my professional experience, LinkedIn is a game-changer. LinkedIn allows you to connect with key decision makers and influencers in your target market and provides the space for you to connect with important and relevant professionals that you may never have had the opportunity to connect with in the first place.
In order to truly embrace this powerful platform, a mindset shift needs to occur around how you view LinkedIn. If you are open to this concept, then read on!
Mindset shift #1: LinkedIn is not just for job seekers
This is by and large the biggest misconception about LinkedIn. Are job seekers and recruiters using LinkedIn? Absolutely! Does that mean if you aren’t looking for your next opportunity you should stay away? No! LinkedIn for travel professionals is mainly about B2B connections in your respective niche and specialty vs. B2C. The biggest blind spot among travel professionals in approaching LinkedIn is that you look at LinkedIn as a way to find direct bookings. Now, I am not saying you can’t use LinkedIn to source and build relationships with your direct clients – but the biggest success stories among travel professionals leveraging LinkedIn correctly are the ones who seek B2B connections. Here are a few examples:
Example A: Connect with editors and publishers of online and offline magazines and/or blogs for your respective niche.
If your expertise is romance travel, then the next time you pick up a local or national publication that your ideal brides are reading, look for the names of the professionals who run the magazine. Connect with the important people who put together the publication and eventually pitch yourself as a content contributor to increase your exposure to your target market.
Example B: Connect with business owners for a joint venture
If your passion is food and wine and you want to build your travel business around this passion, then connect with winery owners, wine educators, authors of wine books, publications and blogs. If you don’t know the names of the above prospects or how to find them, simply start searching for wine-themed LinkedIn Groups and request to join the Groups so you can click on the Members tab and start finding business owners to connect with in this niche.
An important point to make about the above two examples is that it is far more appropriate and relevant to connect with professionals in your niche/specialty on LinkedIn than it is on Facebook. You are not going to “friend” a potential joint venture partner on Facebook. You want to keep the relationship professional, right?
Mindset Shift #2: Connect with everyone and anyone
This is a big one! Are you one of those people who likes to keep everything closely guarded at your chest? If that is you, then LinkedIn isn’t going to work as effectively as someone who is a social butterfly and enjoys meeting new people. Here is the good news about LinkedIn: there is no risk to unknown professionals learning deep dark personal or professional secrets about you. Honestly! You control what you want to share on your profile, and LinkedIn is a professional space so no one is posting pictures of their kids or the fact that they are at a Sunday BBQ. So rest assured, there is no risk.
Think of it this way: If you had the opportunity to attend a networking meeting full of your ideal prospects, would you say “no thank you, I don’t know any one attending so I will sit this one out.” No you wouldn’t! You would attend because that is the point of networking – to meet new professionals and increase your exposure! The same is true for LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one big online networking event. And if you only connect with people you know and have met before – then you are missing the point of why LinkedIn is so powerful. Remember this: LinkedIn is not about who you know, it is about who knows you! So go ahead and expand your network.
Mindset Shift #3: I don’t have time for another social media platform
Reality check. If you are a business owner and want to increase your sales and create new channels for your business via partnerships so you can attract more opportunities for your business – then you can’t afford not to make time. LinkedIn isn’t as “pretty” as Facebook and often doesn’t yield a result on your time and efforts right away. But LinkedIn is all about building solid professional relationships and that is simply not going to happen overnight. If you are looking for a silver bullet/instant gratification sales strategy then LinkedIn isn’t the right place for you to spend your time. If you believe in the power of always connecting with the intention of expanding your network and exposure, then LinkedIn is the right place for you.
Like any other business tool, LinkedIn will only work if you are committed to this vehicle. If you log in whenever you feel like it and don’t stay consistent, then don’t be shocked when you don’t see results and start to question whether LinkedIn is where you should spend your time. Consistency build confidence and if you change the way you are approaching this most powerful professional social media platform, then you will start to see results!
Ensure that your profile is up to date with a professionally appropriate head shot. Accept the invitations that are sitting in your inbox and also actively seek our connections in your niche that you want to connect with. Need help navigating this platform? I did a 60-minute webinar on LinkedIn earlier this year which I am happy to share with you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and our Team will send along. Happy connecting!