Here are three essential tips on how you can use LinkedIn and the Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum to network with Oil & Gas trading partners.
TIP #1: Learn how to use LinkedIn Advanced Search to find Members to network with.
The first reason for joining a large industry group such as the Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum is because LinkedIn allows you to communicate directly and for free with all the members of the Group.
The following questions should be essential to you: Who is in the Group? Who are the VIPs? How many of the Oil & Gas e-Transaction members are people you should try to build a relationship with?
One thing you should know about the Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum: The quality of the memberships is exceptional. The Group has thousands of top Oil & Gas executives -- both Operators and their suppliers! If you use the advanced search techniques explained below you’ll be able to check this out for yourself.
The first thing you have to do is to go on LinkedIn “Advanced Search” and select “Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum” as “Group.” LinkedIn search will select 100 Oil & Gas e-Transaction members (or up to 700 if you have a premium account). Because this may or may not find the most interesting members for YOU, you need to learn how to use “Filters” to reach only the most important 100 to 700 members for YOU. Tip #1 is all about mastering LinkedIn advanced search techniques:
1) Note that if you have a premium account (starting at $24.95 per month) you have access to very interesting filters, such as Company Size, Seniority Level, or Function. This information is essential for the most active LinkedIn users.
2) I always advise Group members to think globally but act locally: Use Location to limit your search to your country or even your postal code (with your selected radius). This has a key benefit: The members in your area are people you can meet face to face! Find them and invite them to a networking breakfast!
3) You need to learn how to use Boolean commands for Keywords, Titles, and Companies. Here is what you should know about these Boolean commands:
Keyword1 AND Keyword2: Connects two or more search terms, all of which must appear in results. Be sure to use capital AND. Example: vp AND finance in title will ONLY find VP of Marketing, not other type of VPs nor other Finance seniority levels.
Keyword1-Keyword2: Indicates exact multiple-word phrases. Without the “-” (example vice-president), LinkedIn Search would find a least one of the keywords. If the AND was used it would look for both keywords, but not necessarily together. Note: Other similar Boolean commands such as “” works on some LinkedIn Searches, but not others and NEAR does not work.
Keyword1 OR Keyword2: At least one of the keywords will appear in results (not necessary both, as opposed to AND). This is a good way to connect synonyms or alternate spellings. Be sure to use capital OR. Example: purchasing OR buyer OR procurement OR supply will find any procurement-related title.
•The following search in Title (Current) will show you the impressive number of of executives in the Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum:
•Title (Current) = ceo OR chief OR president OR general OR principal OR partner OR owner OR vp OR evp OR svp OR avp OR director OR head
Keyword1 NOT Keyword2: Exclude words that must not be in results. Use this to exclude results containing a particular word. Example: architect NOT software will exclude software architects
Parentheses ( ): Use parentheses when combining Boolean statements. The following search for Titles will explain how to find out who the top supply chain executives are in the Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum:
•Title (Current) = (president OR vp OR evp OR svp OR avp OR director OR head) AND (purchasing OR procurement OR supply).
Tip #2: Use Discussions to build relationships with other Members
Do you realize the most efficient way to create a relationship with people on LinkedIn is through Group Discussions? You can publicly and privately engage anyone who starts a Discussion or make a Comment on a Discussion.
Most of the time people who participate to Discussions have an outgoing personality. They are likely to agree to a private exchange with you if they feel you are interested or if you bring some expertise to the Discussion.
There are many ways to engage other Members through Discussions:
1) You can demonstrate your expertise by posting Comments in Discussions where you are the most knowledgeable. You'll be surprised by the result: You'll start receiving private messages from Members interested in building a professional relationship with you.
2) Congratulate the Members who give interesting answers - both publicly and privately. They’ll appreciate your compliments and may want to know more about you.
3) Just like in a local networking meeting, “listen” to what people say and jump into the discussion by asking additional questions. Try to focus on what you agree on. Always be careful when you have to disagree: You are there to win hearts and minds. Soon enough you’ll have a virtual conversation with a group of Members. Some Discussions have turned into chat rooms. Relationships are built. I can’t tell you how many times I have had the opportunity to continue the discussion on the phone!
Try this RIGHT NOW with the Oil & Gas Transaction Forum! Click on the link to check for interesting Discussions and post a comment. If you are lucky somebody is there right now, posting a comment on the same Discussion at the same time: Try to engage him or her! Good luck!
You may wonder how you can reach members you would like to engage but do not seem to participate in any of the Group Discussions. It’s true that less than 5% of Group Members participate to their Group’s Discussions. There are still EXCELLENT opportunities to use Discussions to engage these Members who never participate. Here is how you do it:
After finding a Member you would like to engage (see Tip #1), find a Discussion you feel may interest him/her because of the expertise displayed on his profile. If there is not such Discussion, create one!
Then send a private message to the Member with a subject line such as “Your expertise and advice would be much appreciated”. Give the Member the URL of the Discussion which should interest him/her, explaining that the Discussion deals with a subject which seems to be one of his/her specialty.
My experience is that if you choose the right subject and you have the right message, at least a quarter of the Members you contact will actually join the discussion! And if you choose a really interesting question for them, you have a good chance to receive a Thank You note!
Tip #3: Influence what type of Group the Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum is by influencing its Membership.
What most Group Members do not realize is that they have the power to influence the Membership of their Group. If feel the Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum does not have not enough members in your field of expertise (i.e. purchasing, information systems, finance), from a specific company (i.e. ExxonMobil, Texacco), or in your geographic area, we will tell your here how to make sure your field of expertise, your targeted companies, or your geographic area are well represented in the Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum.
I would like to give you a concrete example. I received las year an email from a Member of one of the global groups I own. He was from Argentina and told me he loved the group but unfortunately it was not very useful for him because he was on the only Argentinian in the Group. I gave him the advice I am sharing with you today and less than three months later more than 2,500 Argentinians, mostly from his area, had joined the group. He wrote me he started local networking meetings and have built many new relationships thanks to the group.
What I advised to him was to send a message I prepared for him to as many of his peers as possible. He told me he sent the message to 180 colleagues! The “viral” effect of his email was unbelievable. Because he was sending the message only to the type of people he thought would be truly interested by the Group, because the people he selected were all executives, and because he was highly recommending the group, his 180 colleagues turned into one of the largest local community in the group.
Here is the message I propose for you to send to your colleagues:
Subject: Your expertise would be much appreciated.
I am sending you this message because of your Oil & Gas industry expertise. I hope you will find this quite useful.
I am a Member of the Oil & Gas e-Transaction Forum, the largest group for Oil & Gas trading partners, reaching soon 15,000 Members. The group includes top executives of most Operators, as well as thousands of top executives of companies supplying these Operators.
This group is a think tank on all subjects related to the Oil & Gas industry and electronic transactions. I believe your experience would be very useful to the Group and would be happy if you could join and participate. The shortcut to join is http://tinyurl.com/onget.
Is it too much to ask if you could to also forward my message to your colleagues and other Oil & Gas executives and experts?
I am looking forward to our exchanges in the Oil & Gas eTransaction Forum Discussions!
Of course you can send this by email, but if your contacts are on Linekdin there are a far easier way:
1) Go to http://tinyurl.com/onget. (this takes you to the Oil & Gas eTransaction Group on LinekdIn.
2) Look for the 'Share Group' link: Click on it.
3) Add up to 50 names from your LinkedIn connections
4) Copy/paste the above message
5) Press ‘Send’: On average at least 25% of the people who receives this type of message join the group.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a good way to test your relationship with colleagues and peers! This is a good way to “engage” them and see how they react. Good luck!