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SPONSORED BY ASSURED TITLE
Ryan S. Shaughnessy, Broker/Principal
PREA Signature Realty
1802 Lafayette Avenue, Suite 200
Saint Louis, Missouri 63104
RYAN S. SHAUGHNESSY
Real Estate Broker, Attorney and Social Media Consultant
Blog: The Lafayette Report
Biography: Ryan S. Shaughnessy is a licensed real estate broker, attorney and title
insurance agent offering comprehensive real estate sales, management and consulting
services to owners, developers, and investors for the acquisition, development and sale
of properties in the historic neighborhoods of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, including
the Central West End, Lafayette Square, Soulard, Georgian Square, Tower Grove East
and the other great neighborhoods of the City of Saint Louis, Missouri.
Brokerage Services - New construction sales, condo/loft rentals and sales, representa-
tion of buyers and sellers, and commercial and residential sales and leasing.
Sales/Leasing Service Areas—Lafayette Square, Lafayette Towne, Soulard, LaSalle Park,
Benton Park, Benton Park West, Central West End, Downtown Loft District, Compton
Heights, Tower Grove East, Tower Grove South, Shaw, The Hill, Carondelet, St. Louis
Hills, Holly Hills, and Dutchtown, as well as University City, Clayton, Richmond Heights
Developer Services - Site acquisition, feasibility studies, sales staff development and
management, and marketing and related services.
Real Estate Law Services - Transactional and general real estate litigation practice in-
cluding real estate development, eminent domain, land use and municipal law.
Consulting Services - Real estate tax appeals, sales training and sales coaching, and so-
cial media consulting.
Special Thanks to Michelle Silies, my business partner and broker, who has allowed
me the time to develop this training series and encouraged me to pursue the use of
technology in our real estate, law and consulting practices.
In the LinkedIn Pro training series, we start by discussing the “nuts and bolts” of
LinkedIn. After discussing the “how to” aspects of LinkedIn such as setting up a profile,
we then discuss common strategies to harness the power of LinkedIn. Here are a few of
LinkedIn Strategy - Reference Selling
LinkedIn Strategy - The Advisory Board
LinkedIn Strategy - The LinkedIn Website
LinkedIn Strategy - The LinkedIn Expert
LinkedIn Strategy - Agent Recruitment
LinkedIn Strategy - Warm Calling Based on LinkedIn Research
LinkedIn has many purposes or uses. However, it isn’t a magic elixir. To be effective, you
must have a plan or strategy. Instead of thinking of it as a solution, you must think of it
as a tool. It is no different than a paint brush. Simply having one won’t make you an art-
ist. The Mona Lisa didn’t paint itself. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool. However, it re-
quires creativity, a plan, and even hard work. If you use a passive approach by simply
posting a profile, you won’t harness the power.
For LinkedIn Demographics
To stand out from other real estate agents, you need a unique market position. It should send
a message as to why the public should employ you or your services. It should be interesting
and should include value statements that attract the person to you and your profile. It is
analogous to a business tagline or a newspaper headline. It is intended to grab the attention
of the reader. It is simply not good enough to say “real estate agent” or “sales person” or
even “Realtor”. These descriptions, although accurate, don’t generate any excitement and
don’t distinguish you from the crowd.
Here are some steps to develop a good business headline:
Step 1—Define your unique market position. In determining your unique market posi-
tion, break your inquiry into two separate parts. First, answer the question “What is my
strongest practice area?” Second, answer the question “What is my strongest personal
characteristic or skill?” After answering these two questions, write a preliminary business
headline or tagline.
Step 2—Define your target audience. Next, answer the question “Who do I want to at-
tract as a customer?” Create a profile or list of characteristics for your target audience.
The words describing your target audience and your business headline or tagline should be
consistent with each other. Review and modify your preliminary business headline or tag-
line in light of the profile for your target audience.
Step 3—Define the goals for your LinkedIn page. Finally, answer the question “What
do you want LinkedIn to do for you?” It is important to define your goals. It will control
how you frame your business headline and other information. Goals can range from obtain-
ing employment to enhancing your web presence to developing a niche market to driving
traffic to your personal website and listing to saving time and educating customers. After
you have defined your goals, review your business headline or tagline to make sure that
your unique market position matches.
Examples of Good Business Headlines:
The Education Agent—Serving the College Community
Your Family Realtor—Serving Families One Sale at a Time
The Dirt Broker—Selling Lots… Building Homes
Whether your target audience is owners, buyers, other real estate professionals, or employers,
it is important to add a photograph. Before a person or company employs, connects or com-
municates with you., they want to know with whom they are dealing. A photograph that is
properly cropped enhances your professional image. When selecting a photograph, remember
that LinkedIn is a professional, business networking site. Accordingly, leave the family photos,
pet photos, etc. offline—unless these photos are consistent with your business headline or tag-
line. Anonymous profile do little or nothing to project a professional image or to instill confi-
dence in the person who is viewing your profile regarding the quality of your services.
When you are enter your education and employment information, it is important to provide ac-
curate and complete information.
Step 1—Enter all work positions. The public enjoys those “janitor” to “owner” stories.
Don’t be embarrassed by a position. Everyone starts somewhere.
Step 2—Enter the complete company name. If the name of the company has changed, in-
clude the former companies name like BP Amoco (formerly Standard Oil). LinkedIn uses the
information to suggest possible connections that you can make with other members of
Step 3—Be open and honest with the information provide. Do not exaggerate the posi-
tion or your duties. Do not try to hide gaps in employment. Treat your LinkedIn Profile as
your online resume.
Step 4—When preparing the description, describe your duties accurately. Even if the
job isn’t relevant, the skills learned may be. Focus on skills or duties that are consistent with
your current position.
Whether it is Google or LinkedIn, search engines love good keywords. Before you enter your
description, define your keywords. This process starts by knowing who you are and how you
want to be found. For example, if you sell “luxury homes’ in Chesterfield, then your descrip-
tion should include keywords like “custom homes” or “gated communities” and geographic des-
ignations like the specific neighborhoods that you sell, not simply “St. Louis Realtor.”
Step 1—Identify your keywords. Use a Google keyword search tool or look at the statistics
from your website to identify common keywords.
Step 2—Expand your keywords looking for synonyms. Although you may describe your-
self as “helpful”, the general public may search on “accommodating” or “assistive”. Similarly,
you may use the keyword “Clayton” to describe your geographic area and the general public
may be searching on zip codes. Cover the bases when selecting keywords.
Step 3—Analyze your keywords. Review your keywords to make sure the keywords used
are consistent with your content theme or business headline or tagline.
Before you complete your descriptions, test your keywords by searching for people on
LinkedIn. If you aren’t in the top 5 people on the first page, then rewrite your description add-
ing additional keywords likely to appear in common people searches on LinkedIn.
skills or duties that are consistent with your current position.
Add your websites to your profile. Here are some tips to increase your referral traffic from
LinkedIn to your blog, website or company site.
Tip #1—Do not use the LinkedIn tags like “My Website” or “My Blog”. Instead, use “Other”
and write your own description like “Home Search—MLS Access”.
Tip #2—If you desire more traffic to your website, use less of a description and more of a call
for action like “Search for St. Louis Homes Now”.
Tip #3—Even if you don’t have a blog or three websites, send prospects to three different land-
ing pages like “Featured Properties in Lafayette Square”, “Search MLS Now” or “Contact Me”.
To convey an effective message, you often have to repeat your message at least three times.
The summary section allows you to restate your background, skills, experience, areas of spe-
cialization, and other items that are important to you. Again, it is should be a description that
is keyword laden and consistent with your content theme and business headline or tagline.
LinkedIn is a social business networking site. On my profile, I focus on my business and things
that would interest my business network. However, the other section is one of the few areas
on LinkedIn where I encourage the disclosure of personal information such as personal inter-
ests. It allows the audience viewing your profile to get a better sense of who you are and what
you stand for.
For any social networking site, content plays a major role in generating leads, developing busi-
ness opportunities, and staying in constant contact with your current and former customers,
sphere of influence, and professional colleagues. LinkedIn has three primary resources for
adding content to your site: (1) Status Updates, (2) Applications, (3) Recommendations,
(4) Q&A Forums, and (5) Groups.
LinkedIn added a “status update” feature similar to Facebook and Twitter. It can be accessed
either from the home page (shown on left above) or from the profile page (shown on right
above). It asks a simple question “What are you working on?” The tool is underutilized by
many members of LinkedIn. At the same time, it is overused by others. The key is to remem-
ber that LinkedIn is both a social network and a business network.
Here are some examples from recent updates posted to LinkedIn:
Good Use of Status: “I am currently looking for comparable sales in Downtown St. Louis for
new listing at xxxx Washington.” or “I had a dinner meeting with CIT Small Biz Lending—
great SBA loans still available.”
Bad Use of Status: “Dude, got so wasted last night. Mardi Gras rocked.” or “I just had
breakfast—heading now to office.”
Here are some tips to effectively use the status update feature to generate leads, develop
business opportunities and much more:
Tip #1—Keep the style and tone professional. Your audience will judge your posts based
on the image that you project. I doubt that your employer or customers really want to know
that you are 40+ years old and “got so wasted last night.”
Tip #2—Update your status on a regular basis. Social networks can be a useful marketing
and business tool. However, your experience and success with LinkedIn will depend on how
you use and participate in discussions on LinkedIn. If you simply create a profile and stop
there, LinkedIn will do very little for you in terms of generating leads, developing business op-
portunities, etc. The key is to fully participate in the network. It is all about starting conversa-
tions. The status update feature is an easy way to start a conversation within your network.
Tip #3—Don’t press… don’t sell. It is important to remember that LinkedIn is a social net-
working site that is business oriented. It isn’t intended to be a forum for you to spam friends,
co-workers, and colleagues with unwanted advertisements. Whether on LinkedIn, Twitter or
Facebook, repetitive sales pitches don’t work. Focus on discussing your work, technology, in-
dustry trends, etc. Again, the purpose of the updates is to start conversations and develop re-
lationships, not to sell and close the deal.
Tip #4—Identify the purpose of each update. Before you post an update, ask yourself
“Why are you posting it?” and “What do you want to achieve from it?” If you are posting sim-
ply for the sake of posting, then it isn’t going to be productive or effective. Although I discour-
age “selling”, I do believe that “self-promotion” is a permissible use of LinkedIn. Here are
some suggested topics for updates:
Job Openings / Seeking Employment
Comments on Industry Trends
New Listings / Price Updates / Special Incentives
Selling Information / Other Success Stories
Technology Questions and Comments
Tip #5—Use Ping.Fm to update status on multiple platforms. If you maintain a presence
on multiple social networking sites, you may want to consider using Ping.fm. Ping.fm, after
setting up your accounts, allows you to send a single update to all of your social networking
sites with the click of 1-button.
LinkedIn now offers several applications that can be used to build content for your site. Here
are a few of my favorites:
Box.net allows you to upload files in a variety of formats
(including pdfs) to your LinkedIn profile. It is a great tool
for posting files and allowing your connections and others
viewing your profile to download sales brochures, prices
lists, sales contracts, forms, and more.
Slideshare.net allows you to upload files. Slideshare.net
then converts them to slide shows and uploads the slide
shows to your LinkedIn profile. It is a great tool for post-
ing and allowing your connections and others viewing
your profile to view slide shows on any topic from sales
training to listings and more.
BlogLink allows you to upload blog posts from your blog
to your LinkedIn Profile. It is a great tool for expanding
your audience and readership. It also is a great tool to
show that your are an expert in your field, industry or lo-
The Reading List is really just
for fun. If your goal is to show
your expertise or start a conver-
sation, the Reading List is a must
add tool. This is especially true if
it relates to your area of exper-
tise or if the person viewing your
file is an active reader. The
benefit of the tool is that it en-
My Travel is a another addictive
tool. It is especially useful if you
belong to internet groups like Ac-
tiveRain or attended a college
where people spread out across
the country after graduation.
Similar to the Reading List, it is
often a conversation starter and
attracts invites from friends, cus-
tomers and others located in the
city that you are visiting.
LinkedInPolls is a marketing and research tool. It
can be used for market research or other purposes. It
can be answered by anyone viewing your profile.
There is also a paid option that disseminates it to tar-
When setting your account and privacy settings, it is a matter of personal preference. How-
ever, these decisions can impact how useful your profile will be to you. The more restrictive
that your privacy and other settings are will determine how accessible your information is and
how useful your LinkedIn profile, status updates, etc. will be.
I subscribe to the philosophy that transparency on social networking sites is the key to their
successful use as a business, marketing and networking tool with one exception. I do not
show (as explained below) my connections on LinkedIn. Here are my personal thoughts on
selected account and privacy settings for my LinkedIn account.
Show your professional photo. The lack of a photo-
graph creates anonymity which can be a barrier to
building a strong, active network on LinkedIn. Peo-
ple and companies want to know and see who they
are doing business with on LinkedIn.
If the purpose of your use of LinkedIn is to maximize
your exposure, then I would use a full profile. It
adds to SEO value and provides a better ability to
convey why someone should do business with you.
Whether your current status should be visible is go-
ing to depend on what you post. If you post lewd
comments to a small network of friends (not recom-
mended), it is probably better to keep your status
private. However, by setting your current status to
visible by everyone, you increase the likelihood that
your status will be read by someone who can con-
tribute to your current project or who might become
a lead or referral source. Often, it isn’t that you
don’t have a network, it is that your network doesn’t
fully understand what you do, what your specialty is,
I do not subscribe to methods used to decrease or
make more difficult the ability of others to send in-
vites to join their networks. The purpose of LinkedIn
is to make new connections and to build, manage
and serve a larger network. This doesn’t mean that
I accept every invite. However, I prefer to receive
and then evaluate whether I should join that per-
son’s network or, more accurately, whether I should
grant that person access to my network, on a case
by case basis.
This may or may not be controversial. However, I do not allow my connections to share, view or otherwise
use my connections. Here are my thoughts on the subject:
I often invite prospects, customers, referral sources, etc. to my network. As to customers, I view their
identity as confidential and not subject to disclosure without their express permission. As to prospects
and referral sources, I view this information as proprietary and would prefer not to give my competitors
a competitive advantage by disclosing my sources of business.
I often invite real estate professionals, including Realtors, developers, builders, sales managers, and
on-site builder sales representatives, to join my network. Often, these people are direct competitors or
at least potential competitors. Some may ask: Then, why invite your competitors to your network?
The short answer is that I value these relationships and find it productive to exchange ideas with other
real estate professionals on a wide range of issues from market conditions, industry trends and issues,
pricing, technology, marketing, etc. that occur from regular contacts with colleagues on LinkedIn.
I often invite my service providers to my LinkedIn network. Often, these connections are or perceive
themselves to be competitors with someone else on my preferred provider list. Although I do not
promise exclusivity to my preferred providers, I prefer to eliminate any misunderstanding that may
arise from having multiple providers of the same services being listed on my connections.
It is a common practice to harvest connections from one’s own connections. Admittedly, I have viewed
the connections of my connections. If I know these people, I often will send invites. If I don’t know
them, I will sometimes ask my connection to make a referral. I prefer as a personal choice to eliminate
this reason as a reason to join my network. I also have connections where I want to expand my rela-
tionship with the connection. I would prefer not to tip someone off as to the identity of my connections
that I am actively courting for new or additional business.
The privacy and account settings that I have mentioned in this post are accessible by clicking on the
“Account & Settings” link on the LinkedIn header. The privacy settings for the visibility of groups listed on
your profile are found on the profile edit page. When it comes to groups, I generally show my groups with
Often, there are multiple groups governing the same subject. For example, there are close to 20
groups for Johns Hopkins alumni. I exclude all of the groups, except one, from visibility on my profile
because it makes my profile unwieldy.
I subscribe too numerous groups. Often, I join groups to get a better understanding of their business
or to develop networking contacts. I often will exclude these groups because I don’t want to give the
perception to readers of my profiles that these are major practice areas where these groups are not
directly related to my practice areas.
I tend to exclude religious, political or other groups that may be offensive or controversial to other pos-
sible prospects, customers, etc. Although I may have an interest in these groups and their issues,
membership in some groups may alienate some readers so I exclude these groups from my profile.
Up until this part, we have focused on establishing a good foundation for LinkedIn success
by creating a good, content laden and keyword rich profile. In this section, we will discuss
the basic strategies for starting to build your network. We will cover more advanced
strategies such as the use of LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn Q&A Forums, LinkedIn Testimoni-
als, and “follows” strategies to expand your network in future posts.
Before you start sending out invites or accepting invites on LinkedIn, I would strongly sug-
gest that you first define your connection strategy. When you accept an invite to join an-
other person’s network, you are essentially granting this person access to your network
and connections. Although opinions on this issue will vary widely, I do not subscribe to the
“more connections” are better philosophy for real estate professionals. In my opinion, a
network for a real estate professionals should be more focused. This is especially true
where you use LinkedIn as a tool for managing your network and developing relationships.
Here are is my connection strategy:
Rule 1—I automatically accept invitations from family and friends.
Rule 2—I automatically accept invitations from all current and former customers and pros-
Rule 3—I automatically accept invitations from real estate professionals in the St. Louis
area, including real estate agents, loan officers, title agents, builders, developers, sales
managers, home inspectors, etc.
Rule 4—I automatically accept invitations from active members of charitable, alumni, fra-
ternal, civic and other groups that I actively participate in.
Rule 5—I automatically accept invitations from active members of internet groups like Ac-
tiveRain that I actively participate in.
Rule 6—For invitations from connections in the 2nd or 3rd tier of my network, I review the
person’s profile. If it is a personal invitation looking for a genuine networking opportunity,
I am inclined to accept the invitation.
Rule 7—For unsolicited invitations, I look at the person’s profile, groups, etc. to see if their
interests, activities and posts are consistent with my professional interests. If the profile is
incomplete, I am less likely to accept the invitation. Similarly, there are two types of invi-
tations—the generic and personal invitations. If you send the generic invitation, have an
incomplete profile, have no common connections with me, or appear to be a link or connec-
tion whore (ie. indiscriminate invitations just to gain connections), I am more inclined to
disregard the invitation.
When it comes to invitations, I don’t mind receiving the “generic” LinkedIn invitations from
people that I already know, do business with or with whom I have some relationship. How-
ever, when it comes to people that I don’t know and haven’t heard of, I prefer a personal-
ized invitation with some explanation as to who they are or why I should connect with
them. Here are some good invitations from complete strangers that I have accepted be-
cause the person provided a personalized invitation that was consistent with my profes-
Good Explanation of Connection—
Reference to Blog on ActiveRain
Honest Assessment of Purpose of
the Connection—Referral Network
Sincere Compliments Never Hurt
Reference to Participation in
Humorous Comments on Spam
Nature of Invitation —From Fellow
Attorney Looking to Reconnect
with Friends & Colleagues (not
Honest Assessment of the Pur-
pose of the Connection—Rebuild
Loft Website & Forum
Step 1—Invite friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, etc. that you have an
established connection with by importing your contacts from your Gmail,
Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, or Outlook address books. Send a mass invitation to
Step 2—Manually enter contacts from your paper
address book and then send personalized invita-
tions to these contacts in related groups.
Step 3—Periodically check the “Just Joined Linked In”
section at the bottom of the home page. It pulls new
LinkedIn profiles from the education and employment
information from your LinkedIn Profile. New LinkedIn
members are often looking to reconnect and are
more inclined to accept links.
Step 4—Watch the “People You May Know” sec-
tion on the top right hand of most LinkedIn pages.
If you know the person (personally or through an
acquaintance) and have a sincere desire to de-
velop a networking relationship, send an invite.
Step 5—Take the rubber banded stack of business cards out of the desk drawer. Or, take a
look of lists from business, civic and other organizations in which you are an active member.
Use the “Search People” function to see if these people are on LinkedIn and, if so, send in-
vites. After each business meeting, event, etc., I try to send out invites to the contacts that
I have made at these networking events. The success ratio on making new connections
seems to be the highest when the person is already a member of LinkedIn.
Step 6—After you have started building your network, click on your
connections. Take a look at the connections of others in your net-
work. It is a great tool for finding connections that you may have
missed in the first five steps. Send invite if you personally know the
individuals listed as your connections’ connections.
Step 7—Click on “Introductions” on the left hand column of your Home
page. Click on “Compose Message” and then “Send In-Mail or Introduc-
tion.” Use the search tool to identify people who you want to include in
your network. You can search by keyword, location, group membership,
etc. The search results will include common or shared connections and
groups. You can then send the invitation directly to the person or you
can request a shared connection to make an introduction.
Step 7A— If you elect to request an introduction from
a shared connection, highlight the person to whom you
want to be introduced. Click on “Get Introduced.” It
will pull up a screen that includes a note to both the
person that you want to make the introduction as well
as the person to whom you want to be introduced.
Your connection then decides whether he or she wants
to introduce you to the person to whom you have re-
quested to be introduced. It is a much stronger ap-
proach as the introduction from your connection is like
your connection saying “Hey Ryan’s a decent guy and
won’t spam you to death, why don’t you guys talk.”
The greatest asset of Linked-In may be the ability to showcase customer, colleague and
other testimonials and recommendations. Advertising may drive traffic, but testimonials
and recommendations drive referrals. So how do you get those rave reviews? After you
get the reviews, how do you best display the testimonials? This section will answer those
two questions and more.
Whether you are a real estate agent, mortgage broker, title agent, or in some other field,
one of your best assets is your good reputation. Nothing says “hire me” better than the
testimonials of your past customers.
Here are a few tips on how to obtain those rave reviews and testimonials:
Tip #1—Deliver Great Customer Service. It is important to adopt a customer-centric
focus based on the simple premise under promise and over deliver. Don’t just meet cus-
tomer expectations— you need to exceed them. Until you have delivered exceptional cus-
tomer service, you won’t have the satisfied customer base that is willing to give you those
great reviews. So, before you start asking for recommendations and testimonials, first
start delivering superior customer service.
Tip #2—Ask for the Recommendation and/or Testimonial. There are some custom-
ers who will automatically send a “thank you” note. However, if you are going to effec-
tively use customer testimonials, you need ask for recommendations. As a part of closing
out my sales files, whether using LinkedIn or not, I send a brief note as follows:
Dear Mr. Smith: I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to represent you in the pur-
chase of your new home. I am in the process of closing out your file and wanted to ask
you for a quick favor. As you know, my business is based primarily on customer referrals.
I am currently updating my marketing materials and I would like to include some examples
from people who I have recently had the pleasure to represent in sales transaction of how I
have helped them purchase a new home. If possible, I was hoping that you would be will-
ing to send me a short one or two paragraph note describing how my services helped or
assisted you in the purchase of your new home. Again, it was a pleasure working with you.
I look forward to being your Realtor for life.
Tip #3—Use LinkedIn or Full Contact Information. On LinkedIn, you can request rec-
ommendations using the Request Recommendation. LinkedIn does not permit anonymous
recommendations and testimonials. However, if you receive a recommendation other than
through LinkedIn, I would strongly suggest that you obtain permission to use the person’s
full name. Nothing like “M.G” to give the impression that the recommendation is a fake.
Even if the customer requests the use of initials, include some additional contact informa-
tion like “John S., Professor, Washington University, 15XXX Lafayette, St. Louis, Missouri”.
The inclusion of more information makes the recommendation or testimonial more credible
and more effective.
Tip #4—Use Targeted Recommendations. When using a recommendation for a specific
purpose, select testimonials that are from the same core group. For example, if your tar-
get audience is first-time homebuyers, select testimonials from first-time homebuyers.
Adapt your testimonials to your targeted audience. Sometimes it is as simple as adding
“John Smith, First-Time Homebuyer” to the identifying information.
Tip #5—Use Multiple Media. Do not limit your recommendations to a particular media.
Audio voiceovers, photo clips, video clips, or combinations thereof are effective media for
showcasing testimonials. These testimonials can be hosted on LinkedIn using the Box.net
Tip #6—Develop a System. Do not delay in requesting testimonials. The best time to
ask for a recommendation or testimonial is right after the sale. To automate this system,
create a reminder or tickler service to send the request within 15 days of the closing of the
Tip #7—Don’t Limit Testimonials to Customers Only. Testimonials are most powerful
from current and former customers. However, customers are not the only source for great
testimonials. Employers, co-workers, colleagues, competitors, service providers, and par-
ticipants in volunteer, church and other activities are also great sources of testimonials.
Don’t forget these avenues – especially if you are new to the real estate field.
On LinkedIn, you can request recommendations using the Request Recommendation.
Step 1— Go to Recommendations under the Profile Section on the left side of your Home
Page. Click on Recommendations. Click on the Request Recommendation Tab.
Step 2— Then:
Select your position.
Select the people you want to ask for a recommendation.
Create a personalized message. Use personalized message not the form “Can you en-
dorse me?” message.
Step 3— Click send. It is that easy. The recipient then writes the testimonial. When com-
pleted, you then can review the testimonial and approve its use on your profile.
I hate to call this a strategy because the use of the term strategy implies a quid pro quo
arrangement like “send me a glowing recommendation and I’ll do the same for you” which
is not the purpose or intent of this strategy. Notwithstanding the lack of a quid pro quod
agreement, I have found that sending an unsolicited recommendation often results in the
receipt of a reciprocal recommendation.
When making a recommendation, unsolicited or otherwise, I am a strong believer that you
should make it genuine and factually accurate focusing on a specific characteristic like or-
ganizational skills, customer service, industry knowledge, etc. I don’t exaggerate or over-
state the person’s qualification and stay within the “just stick to the facts” mantra when
writing a recommendation.
LinkedIn actually encourages reciprocity in the making of recommendations. After you
write a recommendation, the recipient then approves the recommendation. After the re-
cipient clicks to approve the recommendation, LinkedIn automatically asks the recipient of
the original recommendation if they want to make a recommendation for the person who
If your customer, colleague, etc. does not have a LinkedIn account and sends a favorable
e-mail, letter, note, etc. that would serve as a good testimonial, there are other ways to
post the material on LinkedIn.
Here are three examples:
Use Box.net. Create a folder called “Customer Recommendations.” Scan the e-mail,
letter, note, etc. to create a .pdf. Upload it to the folder.
Use Box.net. Create a folder called “Audio Recommendations.” Upload your audio files
to the folder.
Use SlideShare.net. Create a slideshow using Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft PowerPoint
or similar software. Include the text, customer identification, information, and a photo
of the property.
Before you use these methods, always ask the customer for permission to use the
recommendation on LinkedIn and in your marketing materials.
Starting in March, 2009, LinkedIn is no longer just for individuals and their personal pro-
files. It also includes company profiles. Although the jury is still out, this may be a very
useful tool for real estate professionals—particularly real estate agents who specialize in re-
location services. With this new tool, you can more easily identify decision makers who are
in or out of your network. Here is a sample company profile for Brown Shoe Company in
St. Louis, Missouri:
The Company Profile is broken into three major parts: Company Summary, Employees on
LinkedIn, and Corporate Statistics. The Employees on LinkedIn includes is further broken
down into three interesting categories:
People in Your Network
Promotions and Changes
With this new tool from LinkedIn, it becomes easier to track relocation patterns and could
possibly be used to identify key decision makers in the hiring, human resources and reloca-
tion area, which is one of the stronger areas in today’s market. It also identifies people
who have been recently hired, which could be used as a lead generation tool.
If you are a large company or a publicly traded company, your company profile has likely al-
ready been created from data compiled from LinkedIn, Capital IQ, and Business Weekly. For
smaller real estate companies, you have to add your company profile to LinkedIn. Here are
Step 1—Click on Search Companies on
Step 2—Click on Add Company
Step 3—Enter Verification Info Step 4—Enter Company Info
Before you join and start using LinkedIn groups, it is important to understand the LinkedIn
group dynamic. Until you understand the group dynamic, LinkedIn groups can be an inhos-
pitable place for “pure” marketing and advertising activities. That is, your repetitive and
self-serving group discussions like posting listings or requests for referrals will fall on deaf
ears (or more accurately blind eyes).
Notwithstanding this fact, LinkedIn groups can be a very good and effective marketing tool.
The key to using LinkedIn groups as a marketing tool is to understand the appropriate use
of group discussions. The success of your experience in using LinkedIn groups will depend
on whether you fully understand that marketing on social networking sites starts with build-
ing a relationship.
Until group members know you and understand and appreciate your opinions and advice,
you may find LinkedIn groups to be a waste of time in developing new business opportuni-
ties and leads. When you participate in group discussions, you render assistance. When
you render assistance, you develop relationships. Simply put, until you care about others,
they won’t care about you or your business. Relationships are what ultimately will assist
you in generating new business opportunities, referrals and leads.
Step 1—Define Your Purpose for Joining a Group. Before you join a discussion
group on LinkedIn, first define why you want to join the group. Here are some com-
mon business reasons to join a group:
Use as a research tool to obtain information on industry related issues or your
Use as a training tool to learn how to effectively use new technologies in the
marketing and sale of homes.
Use as a marketing tool to general new leads for your real estate or consulting
Use as an advertising tool to expose your listings or real estate services to the
broadest possible audience.
Use as a networking tool to develop business opportunities by identifying stra-
tegic partners and establishing a referral network.
Use as a personal branding tool to develop a market niche or area of speciali-
zation and to establish your credentials or expertise.
Step 2—Identify Groups that Further Your Purpose for Joining a Group. After defining
your purposes for joining a LinkedIn group, next identify LinkedIn Groups that are consistent
with the identified purposes. Here are some common categories:
Education, Fraternal, and Charitable Groups: Identify groups that allow you to
establish connections with current and former friends, classmates, colleagues, etc.
(e.g. college alumni associations, fraternal organizations, civic groups, etc.) These
groups are good for reconnecting with people who already know you.
Personal Interest Groups: Identify groups that have members who have similar
interests as you. (e.g. cooking, food and wine, travel, sports, etc.) These groups are
good because you already have a common bond with these people.
Geographic Groups: Given that real estate is local, identify groups that are within
your geographic service areas (e.g. neighborhood associations, community groups,
etc.) These groups are good for exposing your listings and services to people who
live, work, or sell in your service areas and may have an interest in your listings or
Industry Groups: Identify industry related groups for monitoring trends, addressing
industry issues, or developing referral relationships. (e.g. real estate associations,
landlord associations, hotel owner associations, etc.)
Target Market Groups: To generate leads, you need to be where your customers
are or likely will be. Identify groups whose members include your targeted market or
customer (e.g. medical doctors, human resource executives, students, owners, etc.)
Step 3—Search on Keywords for Groups. Before you join a group, use the LinkedIn search
for groups using keywords. By using on relevant keywords, you will be using the same search
methods used by most of your targeted customer market to locate groups to join.
Step 4—Research the Group. Before you join a group, do some basic research on the group
by joining and then looking at the group. Here are some criteria for measuring the usefulness
of the group:
Members: Before you join a group, take a look at the number of members. Small
groups can be ineffective. After looking at the size of the group, take a look at the
member list. Look for groups that have members from your geographic service areas,
industry, or targeted customer market.
Discussions: Before you join a group, look for groups with active discussions.
Groups that only have sporadic posts can be ineffective. After looking at the quantity
of posts, read some of the posts and assess the quality of the posts. Discussion
groups that only have self-promotion posts are ineffective. Similarly, discussion
groups that have discussions with few comments on each post are ineffective. If the
discussion are simply “link to me” or “buy my product”, then it may not further your
goals for joining.
Terms of Service/Discussion Rules: Read the purpose of the groups including any
discussion posting guidelines or rules. Some groups have strict moderator enforced
rules on self-promotion. Others have no or little moderation. Groups with onerous
terms may not further your business purpose. Similarly, groups with no moderation
may not lead to productive discussions.
Competitors: If you need assistance in selecting relevant LinkedIn groups, take a
look at the groups on the profile of your competitors. Often, you will identify groups
that are relevant to your business.
Step 5—Join a Group. LinkedIn allows you to join 50 LinkedIn groups. After joining the
group, review your group settings. You will have the option to include the group logo on
your profile. The groups that you show on your LinkedIn profile will either support or de-
tract from your intended area of expertise. If the number of groups is diverse or exces-
sive, it will weaken your focus and credibility as a specialist with a particular area of ex-
pertise so choose relevant, non-controversial groups.
Posting an Introduction
Before you start posting comments or discussions, first post an introduction that de-
scribes your background, education, experience or service areas and explains why you
joined the group.
When posting a discussion, you must first decide which group is an appropriate forum for
the question. After selecting the forum, craft a headline that is both clear and concise
and calculated to attract attention. Avoid self-promotion in your subject header. Use the
second box to provide the details or facts applicable to your post.
After you have posted a discussion, participate in the discussion. It can be as simple as
clarifying the facts applicable to the post, replying to or even debating comments, thank-
ing the person for posting, etc. The goals are to: (1) participate, encourage and guide
the discussion, (2) engage people who are posting comments in discussion, and (3) es-
tablish your expertise in a particular niche or area of specialization.
When you have a good discussion with a person, send an invitation to connect. Keep in
regular contact with the person and periodically ask about their business or how you can
help the person. If and when appropriate, move the networking from the virtual world to
Before your post a comment, consider the following: (1) Is the comment or subject mat-
ter of the question consistent with the professional image that I desire to establish? (2)
Is the comment thoughtfully (or superficially) answered? That is, does the comment add
value to the discussion and assist the reader? (3) Does the comment further your direct
or indirect goals? (4) Is the comment appropriate to the group and responsive to the
When posting news articles, first consider whether the article is relevant to the group and
is informative. If it is an advertisement such as a new listing, then label it as such.
Do you want to distribute your blog posts as new items to your LinkedIn connec-
tions or to your LinkedIn groups? Do you want to allow your readers to share your
blog posts as news to their LinkedIn connections or to their LinkedIn groups?
If you answered “Yes”, then you may want to start including the Share on LinkedIn widget
link on your blog posts. After inserting the link, you or your readers can then send the blog
post to your respective LinkedIn connections or to your LinkedIn groups as a news item.
Step 1— You write a great blog post. Your blog readers read the post and want to share it
with their LinkedIn connections or their LinkedIn groups.
Step 2—At this point, there are three main options to distribute the blog post.
Option 1—Your reader can send a status update with a link to your blog post.
Option 2—Your reader can go to their groups, click on the news tab, click on new
news item, and then manually type in the title, URL, the first 250 words, and then the
source for your blog. For each group, the process must be repeated.
Option 3—You save your readers the time, effort and hassle by providing them with
the Share on LinkedIn link. Now, if you want to attract new readers, you will want to
select this option. It really is about making it easy for your readers to distribute or
share your content with their LinkedIn network.
Step 3—Your reader clicks on the Share on LinkedIn link. If they are not logged into LinkedIn,
they will be taken to the log-in screen. If they are logged in and if you have set up Share on
LinkedIn link with all of the required information, they will then go to the distribution screen.
If you have omitted information, they will be requested to provide the additional information
(ie. URL, title, summary, and source).
Step 4—When your reader gets to the distribution screen, your reader will have the option to
send the blog post to their LinkedIn connections, to all of their LinkedIn groups, or to specified
Step 5—With one click, your blog post is disseminated to their LinkedIn connections and to the
specified LinkedIn groups.
The Master Code:
The Input Items or Parameters:
mini 4 Must always be true
The permanent link to the article. Must be URL en-
title 200 The title of the article. Must be URL encoded
The source of the article. Must be URL encoded. Ex-
ample: Wired Magazine
A brief summary of the article. Must be URL en-
summary 256 coded. Longer titles will be truncated gracefully with
Now comes the easy part, right? Write the code. What? You have never written code. Sure
you have—and it is easy. Let’s take it step by step. Using this blog post as an example.
Share on LinkedIn Widget
Note: Parameters must be written as encoded URL. Copy your text and
paste the parameters into an encoding program like:
http://www.w3schools.com/TAGS/ref_urlencode.asp to obtain the URL
encoded text to insert into the link code.
Step 6-Insert Link into Blog Post Step 7-Paste Code
Click on Share on LinkedIn link
below to see how the finished
this widget works.
You want to promote your LinkedIn profile using a badge for your website or blog, right?
You go to LinkedIn and can’t find any information. You search on Google for “LinkedIn
Badges” and are directed to go to your LinkedIn profile and look for a link labeled
“Promote Your Profile.” So I followed the instructions—guess what? I didn’t find it.
Step 1— Enter this URL into your browser: http://www.linkedin.com/profile?
Step 2—Select the badge style.
Step 3—Cut and paste the code into your website or blog.
Step 4—Review and adjust your privacy setting for your public profile. The privacy set-
tings for your public profile control what information is shown when a person click on the
view your profile link.
Option 1— PopUp Profile: Use name in text and then have the LinkedIn Logo next to
name. Click on name and public profile pops up for viewing.
<a class=quot;linkedin-profileinsider-popupquot; href=quot;http://www.linkedin.com/in/
ryanshaughnessyquot;>Ryan Shaughnessy </a>  is a principal of PREA
Signature Realty who is currently working on a LinkedIn presentation for his
next blog post.
Option 2— In-Line Profile: Public profile in summary form automatically appears
when the page is loaded.
<a class=quot;linkedin-profileinsider-inlinequot; href=quot;http://www.linkedin.com/in/
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to
get this code to work on my ActiveRain
The code does work on Blogger and
other blogging platforms that accept
In real estate sales, it is important to develop a referral business. Although we have talked about the im-
portance of status updates, customer testimonials, etc., in past posts, it is important to leverage our net-
works on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a good tool for reference selling.
Over the past 10 years, I have been asked to place telephone calls, provide mailing lists, and send out e-
mails on behalf of service providers to my sphere of influence. I have always refused because I found
these methods either to be too intrusive or too much of an imposition on people within my sphere of in-
fluence. However, I have always been willing to make introductions to specific people or to make recom-
mendations and referrals to service providers where someone has expressed an interest or need.
LinkedIn solves many of my concerns because no personal information is shared except the information
that the person has placed on his or her profile and the referral is generally passive. That is, the person
seeing the status update, discussion post, introduction, etc. has the option to ignore the information or
opt in and request more information.
If your goal is to develop a referral only business with no more floor time, no more prospecting, no more
canvassing neighborhoods, etc., then using LinkedIn for referrals and reference selling may assist you to
achieve this goal.
Step 1 — Expand Your Network. Make a list of possible connections including current and former customers,
service providers, other real estate agents, etc. that have involved in a sales transaction with you. Expand your
network to include these people.
Step 2 — Send Out Self-Promotion Status Reports. Post periodic status updates that describe your specialties,
geographic service areas, professional designations, current projects, etc. as well as describing your success stories.
Your sphere of influence is only useful for referrals if they know your practice areas—including areas of expertise—
and your success stories.
Step 3 — Seek Direct Referrals from Customers. Depending on your relationship with your customer, ask them
to send a status update to their network describing their satisfaction with your services. Look at connections in
your customer’s LinkedIn networks who might be possible referral services or might be in need of your services.
Step 4 — Ask for Testimonials. Always ask for a testimonial from a customer. Testimonials build instant credi-
bility with prospects who know your current or former customers.
Step 5 — Seek Introductions from Customers. After a successful sales transaction, look to see if your cus-
tomer is on LinkedIn. If so, take a look at their connections. There may be opportunities to obtain referrals from
your customers. Here are some possible referral sources:
Connections in particular professions — divorce lawyers, probate lawyers, accountants with high wealth
or real estate investor clients, HR professionals, recruiters, physicians who work in a hospital setting with
medical residents, etc.
Connections with particular companies — mergers, acquisition, corporate training programs and even
layoffs may present an opportunity whether it is temporary corporate housing or relocations.
Connections to fraternal or civic organizations.
After you have identified a particular referral opportunity, ask your customer for an introduction to the connection.
Need to flesh out an advertising or marketing concept? Need to test the possible de-
mand for a new service? Need some technical expertise to implement a new business
program or idea? Just ask… Use LinkedIn for surveys, polls, Q&A, requests for assis-
tance, and much more.
Step 1 — Conduct a Survey or Virtual Focus Group. Whether you want to test the
waters, improve a current program or service, or judge the demand for a service,
LinkedIn has a number of tools. Here are a few examples:
Take a poll of the connections in your LinkedIn network.
Ask the opinion of all or specific connections in your LinkedIn network.
Post a question — globally or to targeted to specific individuals such as a sur-
vey of current or past customers.
Start a group discussion. Seek comments. Follow-up directly with the person
who posted a comment.
Step 2 — Ask for Technical Assistance. If you need technical assistance, market in-
formation, etc., LinkedIn has a number of tools.
Join a LinkedIn group where you might find the person with the technical ex-
pertise, a person in the targeted audience, etc. Start a discussion on the “how
to” aspect of implementing the new program or service.
Post a question and start receiving answers to general “how to” or other tech-
Seek out either people with technical expertise or people who are within the
targeted audience using the “people search” feature.
Step 3 — Forge Partnerships to Develop New Ideas. There is no reason to recre-
ate the wheel. Often, another person is performing similar research or working on
similar projects. Often, LinkedIn groups present opportunities not only to seek advice
but also to share research and forge joint partnerships. This is especially true in the
real estate field. If you are in Missouri working on a project to develop a new market-
ing campaign and another Realtor is working in Arizona, it is unlikely that you are com-
petitors. If you aren’t competitors, then it may be opportunity to seek out a partner to
jointly tackle a project.
Before you do any of these steps, you must first examine what is and is not confidential
or proprietary. You don’t want to announce a great concept to your competition. It is
up to you to judge how much information to share and with whom.
Need another tool to dissemination information and other content? With your profile,
you can set up a forum for disseminating information—resume, status updates, power
point and other slide presentations, downloadable forms, links to other sites and much
Step 1 — Setting Up Your Profile
Step 2 — Adding Content such as blog posts, presentations and downloadable files.
Step 3 — Adding Recommendations and Testimonials
Step 4 — Adding Your Company Profile
Step 5 — LinkedIn Widget for Distribution of Blog Posts
Step 6 — Promoting Your LinkedIn Profile Using Badges
For a free site, LinkedIn can be used as an agent website. Use your LinkedIn profile to
create a partial solution. No programming knowledge or experience required.
Generate leads and develop new business by establishing your expertise or specialty.
Start conversation by providing assistance. By participating, you become a leader in
Step 1—Build your Network. Start by focusing on connections in your industry, in groups
representing your target audience or your geographical service area.
Step 2 — Build Relationships. After you send an invite or after you accept an invitation,
send a personal invitation with bullet points describing your background, experience, profes-
sional interests, etc. Ask questions about your connections industry. Identify other ways to
connect online such as blogs, e-newsletters, forums, websites, etc.
Step 3—Update Your Profile. Consistently update your profile so that it highlights your
education, experience and professional accomplishments that are designed to generate new
leads from your target audience.
Step 4—Update Your Links. Periodically update your links on your profile to include your
company website, personal website and blog.
Step 5—Write a White Paper. Post questions and start group discussions to collect infor-
mation on industry topics. Publish blog posts on your LinkedIn or other social networking ex-
Step 6—Q&A. Answer questions in your field to establish your knowledge or experience in
your field. Focus on complete and insightful answers or commentary to obtain top ratings for
Step 7—Industry Groups. Join groups in your industry as well as related fields. For exam-
ple, if you are a Realtor, join a developer group, title group, lender group, affordable housing
Step 8—Websites and Blog Posts. Publicize your LinkedIn profile using badges. Post blog
entries describing your LinkedIn experience. Cross-market your website and blog with your
Linked profile. Include a LinkedIn badge or link in all e-mails. On blog comments, redirect
them to LinkedIn or your website and vice versa.
Step 9—Obtain Expert Recommendations. Secure recommendations from third parties
as an expert from persons posting or answering Q&A. Ask other LinkedIn members that you
assist or with whom you have shared insights to make such a recommendation.
LinkedIn is the Mecca for recruiters. It is fundamentally designed for recruiting. What is better
than having the ability to advertise “jobs” on LinkedIn or post “jobs” on LinkedIn group pages.
However, it isn’t just the features that make LinkedIn a good recruiting tool. It is also the sim-
ple fact that LinkedIn is built on the online resumes of its members. In addition, it isn’t just
about advertising a position or being in the right place (ie. where job seekers are online). It is
also about the connections and relationships that you develop. Lateral hiring is common on
PAID ADVERTISING—SINGLE POST
Step 1—Click on Jobs Tab. Click on Post a Job.
Step 2—Enter the job details.
Step 3—Set your privacy and other job search management settings.
Step 4—Preview your advertisement.
Step 5—Pay for the ad—$195.00 for 30 days.
FREE PLACEMENT—POSTING TO GROUPS
Step 1— Send out a status update announcing a new position. Link to the job details.
Step 2—Go to your LinkedIn groups. Click on the Jobs tab.
Step 3—Post the job. If you have never written an advertisement for a job, look at the content
required to post a paid advertisement for a position..
Step 1—Search using the Find People search tool. Type in your key words for the position.
Review the results for possible lateral hires.
Step 2—Participate in groups. If someone strikes you as a good candidate or if they have the
same approach or business philosophy as you, start a conversation to see if there is interest in
LinkedIn is a great research tool. When you are working with a prospect, LinkedIn pro-
vides valuable information, including interests, education, employment information,
etc.. For example, I had a very good showing with a prospect. I searched on her name
in several social networks and found a number of connections that we hadn’t discussed
such as her alma mater (which happens to be mine). LinkedIn provided me with addi-
tional information to build upon the connection and develop a better relationship based
on common experiences and interests. With LinkedIn, cold calling is dead. You now
have information at your finger tips that makes that telephone call, e-mail, personal
note, etc. feel more like a “warm call” and not an intrusive “cold call.”
Step 1—Search for a person using the search for people feature on LinkedIn.
Step 2—Read the person’s profile.
Step 3—Develop a “selling” strategy based on the person’s profile.
Step 4—Invite the person to connect to your LinkedIn network.
Step 5—Read the status updates. It is amazing how many leads are generated simply
by reading your network’s status updates and saying “congratulation on your retire-
ment…” followed later by “now is the time to downsize…” or “congratulations on the ad-
dition to the family” followed by “I have a great home in xxx near the park for a grow-
Step 6—Use the information to your advantage. Some random ideas on the use of this
Use employment location to sell to a prospect based on location of the home.
Read status reports to develop potential leads from existing customers or peo-
ple already within your sphere of influence.
Review testimonials to gain insights on customer satisfaction for suppliers or
Use the information to “break the ice” at a meeting or other event. Refer to a
blog post, book they are reading, common connections, etc. LinkedIn infor-
mation is a great “small talk” starter.
Use the information to enhance your follow-up after a networking or other
event. Ask for information. Offer assistance. Build on the relationship.
Use status reports as a refresher on “current happenings” with people in your
Thought leaders are recognized by their peers for developing and promoting innovative
ideas and by the general public as someone who understands their industry, the needs
of their customers, and the housing market generally. When you attain the status of a
“thought leader”, you will find that people bring you business opportunities. It is the
point where you are asked to serve as opposed to volunteering and where you are
asked to participate in business opportunities as opposed to developing business oppor-
tunities on your own. LinkedIn groups are a great way to develop or enhance your
status as a thought leader.
Step 1—Participate in existing groups. Focus on national groups. Become a
LinkedIn expert (as described in a prior post).
Step 2—Create a smaller subset of the existing group. For example, if you are in-
volved in a Green Realtor Group, start a Missouri Green Realtor Group or St. Louis
Green Realtor Group. The best approach is to avoid duplicative groups, to focus on a
niche, and to focus on the keywords that will attract new members. LinkedIn Groups
can sometime be like the great land rush with claims being made to a territory—just
make sure you’re a claiming prime real estate as opposed to swampland.
Step 3—Create a content or benefit for joining the new group. For example,
take national trends and create the local story or angle to the national trend.
Step 4—Actively promote the group. Consult the moderator of the existing group.
Determine whether there is an affiliation opportunity to promote the new group as a
subset of the larger group. Mention the new group in posts. Invite your connections to
the new group. Use the search feature to identify people who might be interested in
the new group and send out invitations. Encourage members of the group to invite the
members of their networks to join.
Step 5—Encourage discussions within the new group. Post starter conversations.
Consider pulling hot topics from more established groups. If people are reluctant to
post, send group members suggestions on what to post.
Step 6—Build mass—both in terms of content and members. Start slow and fo-
cus on steady development. Also, there is a tendency to run before you walk. There is
nothing worse than an inactive group with little or no discussions. Just like any mar-
keting activity, you get out of it what you put into it.
Step 7—Provide recognition to active members. Use featured discussions and re-
caps to recognize members and good discussions. Share the group moderator with ac-
tive or established group members.