Nicole Slaughter Graham is a freelance journalist and writer based in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Maximize LinkedIn’s Networking Potential
Use these tips to enhance your profile and engage with your connections to market yourself and your brand on the professional social media platform.
April 26, 2018
Before embarking on a career in real estate, Marie Presti worked as the vice president of marketing for an internet company based in Cambridge, Mass. The company had developed a platform—much like current-day LinkedIn—but they ceased operations after 9/11. At that time, Presti, who is now broker-owner of The Presti Group in Newton, Mass., turned her sights to real estate. Not long after, a California-based company reached out to Presti. They’d learned about her as a result of her decade in the tech field, and they had a new product they wanted her to beta test. That product was LinkedIn.
“At first, I was like, they stole our product!” she laughed. “I started using it right away, though,” she says, “because I really wanted to keep in contact with the connections I’d made in the tech industry.”
Today, LinkedIn serves as an invaluable tool for Presti’s business. The professional social media platform is a hub for building relationships within the industry, making connections with potential clients, and sharing her knowledge of the field.
Presti has more than 2,400 connections and 2,300 followers on the site. She’s used LinkedIn as a master networking tool and is now sharing her best practices so that others can take advantage of the platform’s potential.
Capitalize on LinkedIn’s Functionality
One of Presti’s favorite features of the platform is that LinkedIn will automatically suggest connections based on the information you input into your profile page. “It has some great functionality in that it can look at my email address book and suggest connections based on the people I’ve emailed who also have LinkedIn profiles.”
Likewise, LinkedIn makes connection suggestions based on where an individual worked in the past or attended school. Some people advise that a LinkedIn profile should only include experience relevant to one’s current goals, but Presti disagrees. “Fill out the profile as completely as possible,” she says. “That way, LinkedIn can look at the information you’ve input and suggest connections.”
Doing so gives agents and brokers a wider web of potential contacts. Though an agent might not work in a particular industry anymore, he or she might still want to connect with people from that industry. After all, Presti says, “one never knows who might be looking for a house.” She has included all her education background from high school on, and every job she’s held. This technique works in her favor time and again. “I’ve had people from my days in high tech reach out to me to help them with their real estate needs,” Presti says. “I’ve had people from high school connect with me.”
Building a comprehensive profile on the professional network can also bring job opportunities. For instance, a California-based real estate agency looking to expand to the East Coast reached out to Presti to head its first Massachusetts-based office. At the time, Presti wanted to move up in the industry, and the proposal was a good fit. “They came to me because of my LinkedIn profile, and it turned out to be a great opportunity for me at the time.” Presti helped the company build its first New England office from the ground up, and she was instrumental in the company’s East Coast success.
Building a Network of Business Partners
Presti knows most of her 2,400-plus connections personally or professionally. “At first, I was really selective with who I accepted as a connection,” she says. Her strategy is a little more relaxed now, but she still wants to ensure the connections she accepts are either in the industry, acquaintances, or people she knows well.
A great way to build connections within the industry is to add a personalized note, Presti advises. Write a short message about why you want to connect—whether you have a referral or want to ask some questions. “I’ve had many business partners do this,” she says, “and it makes me more likely to accept their connection request.”
Plus, business partners are not limited to other real estate agents or brokers, Presti says. “Mortgage officers, real estate attorneys, insurance companies, movers, painters, contractors—they’re all important connections to have,” Presti explains. And LinkedIn fosters the perfect environment for building such a network.
Job history and education aren’t the only important components in a profile. Volunteer experience is also vital to a well-rounded LinkedIn page, says Presti, especially if it’s industry-related. Her volunteer work as the president of the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS®️ lands her regular invitations to industry events, which gives her the opportunity to make face-to-face connections as a result.
Tips to Get Started or Enhance Your LinkedIn Experience
Creating a LinkedIn profile and adding all pertinent information is a great start, but it isn’t enough. “You need to be active on the platform,” Presti says. She recommends posting status updates one or two times a week. “I also look at the alerts on a daily basis.” LinkedIn will send notifications when a connection has a work anniversary or birthday, and Presti makes a point to send a note.
Another important aspect of the LinkedIn profile is the title or headline. “You want to convey to your audience that you’re an expert, but not in a sales-y way,” Presti says. In her own headline, Presti wants to communicate that she’s an expert in her field and a business owner. As a result, hers says, “Greater Boston REALTOR® of the Year/President, Greater Boston Association of REALTORS®/Owner, The Presti Group.” This title tells the LinkedIn community where she’s located, what she does, and that she’s good at her job. But she cautions against using industry jargon that can confuse people visiting your profile. “A lot of firms offer gold or platinum awards for meeting certain sales goals, but to the general population, none of that jargon makes sense, so I don’t recommend putting it in a headline.”
An updated, comprehensive summary is equally important to differentiate oneself from other agents or brokers. Presti advises that if agents and brokers have experience outside the real estate realm, adding it into the summary section can make a difference. “I have advanced degrees and experience in tech and math. I think that’s an important differentiator because it might tell a potential client that I’m good with numbers or logically inclined,” she says.
Posting in blogs on the site is another great way to position yourself as an expert, Presti says. She’s also an advocate for updating a LinkedIn profile on a regular basis. “Every time I change offices or move, I make sure that’s reflected on my profile because all my connections get an update when something changes with me.” This is a great way to keep your business in front of people.
Ultimately though, Presti says LinkedIn is meant to be a tool and should be treated as such. It is easy to become overwhelmed and get sucked into creating a perfect profile, but the purpose of LinkedIn is to get you in front of others. “Social media can suck people in, so it’s important to make sure there’s a balance between how much time is spent on these platforms and how much time is spent in the field,” Presti says. “When LinkedIn is used as a tool and not a primary communication technique, it can be really valuable.”