I joined LinkedIn as an employee in 2009 and honestly it was just out of sheer curiosity and a subconscious fear of not wanting to be left behind in the world when it came to the internet and the way it is changing how we live and communicate with each other. Ironically, even in my desire to be counted amongst the living in the virtual world, I still hold this belief deep down that someday someone can and will pull the plug on the whole system and those whose lives are wrapped around the internet (well, almost everyone that matters) would be simply put, finished! I’m no doomsday theorist but I do have my fears no matter how unreal or impracticable they may sound.
We all come to that time in our lives when we have to make hard decisions about our careers and lives, a time when we are tired of ignoring that small still voice that quietly reminds us of how unfulfilling our lives would be if we don’t take that bold step to follow our own passions and dreams. My time finally came in March 2012. At that time, everything around me was telling me that I needed to make a change and I did. It’s not been a walk in the park experience but I’d say it’s been very fulfilling. Becoming an entrepreneur calls up traits that most of us either don’t know we have or have chosen not to utilize.
In the course of building my business, I realized the enormous challenges I had to overcome and the limited resources I had to work with, so I set out to use every possible tool within my reach that could help me achieve my goals. Naturally, LinkedIn was top on my list and I suddenly realised that there was a lot more I needed to know about maximising my presence on that business networking site. I remember the numerous articles I had read (many I ignored) teaching how to use LinkedIn and how some of them required some sort of financial commitment to participate. I also remember feeling ‘lost at sea’ about what to do to make LinkedIn work for me, so I decided I had to do something about it. I’ll come back to how I solved this problem later.
My business revolves around real estate service provision and other opportunistic investments. I sell high-yield investment-grade property around the world including but not limited to Dubai, United Kingdom and within Africa. My target market though was limited to Nigerian based clients but the more I used LinkedIn the more I saw the possibility of selling to a wider group of clients and that’s when my ‘African dream’ of selling to only my countrymen and within Africa died. The task ahead of me was now a much bigger one and coming from Nigeria didn’t make things any easier. In fact it complicated things because I was now faced with the task of proving my credibility before anything else!
I love my country but I must admit that Nigeria has got a really bad image out there in the international community. This was the rude shock I got when I tried reaching out to people on LinkedIn. To make matters worse my LinkedIn profile was in a bad shape. At that time it must have been somewhere around 50 – 60% completed and it lacked a professional touch. I could imagine some of the foreign connections I tried reaching out to saying to themselves “Yep, this must be one of them scam artists. I can’t wait to receive a mail from him telling of some inheritance left by the widow of an oil sheik that he wants me to claim…” Well sadly, it is true that some Nigerians are notorious for such scams but for some reason, probably due to the volume of such mails coming out of Africa we are the ‘world leaders’. Every nation has its own fair share of criminals but why does Africa seem to take the cake in this case?
Back to my story about how I solved the challenge of using LinkedIn…
I met The LinkedIn Expert, Viveka von Rosen, on Twitter a while back even though for a long time it never occurred to me to reach out to her for assistance. At some point I decided to do so and I think she can tell the rest of the story better than I ever could.
Since giving my profile an expert’s touch, I’ve received several requests from property developers around the world interested in doing business, a lot more sales leads and most importantly I’m building relationships with individuals and businesses in different regions of the world. Things can only get better.
LinkedIn as a business networking site is meant to add value to your business and your life, if that isn’t the case for you then I think it’s time you take it as a major project and do something about it like I’ve done. All the best!