LinkedIn has finally embraced hashtags and created a real use for them. You’ll notice the hashtags you’re following in the far-left column of your home page. Hashtags have appeared in LinkedIn posts since they first integrated with Twitter (which they stopped because it caused too much junk in the news feed). Since people often posted the same content in multiple social media channels, the hashtags came along for the ride in LinkedIn. The hashtags were hyperlinked so that if you clicked on one it would search of other uses of the hashtag, but since there wasn’t any other real use and people weren’t consistently including them in posts, they didn’t have much value.
LinkedIn is now encouraging people to follow specific hashtags that they monitor and grouping those followers into loose “communities.” They have since removed the reference of hashtags being a “community,” but it’s initial existence gives us some insight into the role they want them to play.
You’re able to search for and follow hashtags that are relevant to your industry and interests. Simply type the hashtag (with the #) in the multi-search box at the top of every LinkedIn page. You’ll see a drop down of the “official” hashtags within LinkedIn and you can select the hashtag in which you’re interested. If you don’t see the hashtag you want, simply hit Enter. Just because LinkedIn isn’t focused on it, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t using it.
However, for the official hashtags, LinkedIn will let you know how many people are following it. Whether it’s an official hashtag or not, you should see a Follow button to add the hashtag to your list.
When you open a hashtag, what you will find is a feed of content that includes the use of that hashtag. This content comes from anyone who has their posts visible to anyone. By scrolling through this news feed, you can find interesting posts that you can engage with. You can comment, like, or share the posts even if you’re not connected to the person.
This provides a great opportunity to get visibility to people beyond your immediate network. You can find centers of influence and when you comment on their post, your post is visible to them, their network and the networks of anyone else who has engaged with the post. AND, those people may get notifications to come and see your comment (people can control the notifications they receive).
You can use this hashtag feed to find interesting people with which to connect and start to build a relationship. There’s a lot that can be found and uncovered by spending some time scrolling through the hashtag feeds that are used by your target market and in your industry.
One last little thing before I explain the $500k. If you have a LinkedIn Page, you can identify three hashtags that your Page follows. When you open the hashtag feeds from the Page, you then have the ability to comment AS YOUR COMPANY/BRAND instead of you as a person.
So, how do hashtags result in a $500,000 commission?
The Ultimate LinkedIn Hashtag Case Study
During one of my LinkedIn Ninja 3rd Friday training sessions, I provided a detailed explanation of how the hashtags worked and some strategies that can be used to take advantage of the fairly new feature. My Top LinkedIn Ninja Dojo student jumped on these strategies and turned them into a $500,000 commission.
A little background about. This student is a commercial real estate broker based in Chicago. He’s a city boy. One of his clients asked him to sell a large ranch property located in…Florida (that’s a little bit of a hike for property showings). He was wondering how he was going to sell this property from Chicago without having a network of ranch owners or real estate agents who specialized in ranch and agricultural properties.
He decided to do a search for #ranchrealestate. Surprise, surprise, even though it’s not an official LinkedIn hashtag, there were commercial real estate agents posting content using that hashtag.
He reached out to connect with them. They accepted. He told them about the property. One of them found a buyer. The deal has a high probability of closing and should close in the next 90 to 120 days. Not only did he get that property sold much faster than he thought he could, his commission on the sale will be approximately half a million dollars! (Boy did that Dojo membership pay off!)
The Moral of the Story
LinkedIn is a goldmine of opportunity. But the gold nuggets don’t just fall at your feet; you have to go find them (every once in a while you may come across a nugget or one may go looking for you, but that’s definitely the exception and not the rule).
I can’t just grab a shovel, go digging in my back yard and find gold. You have to know where to look, how to look, the right tools and techniques to use, and your expertise to recognize the signs and potential that gold may be present.
The same is true in LinkedIn. You may be able to “farm” out some of the heavy lifting (in LinkedIn terms redundant activity), but only you have the knowledge to connect the dots between pieces of data that lead to an opportunity. The data have no meaning unless they are viewed in context that comes from experience in your industry and occupation. Assistants and automated software will never have that context. They may find some small pieces of gold, but you’re missing out on finding the ginormous nuggets that only you will see if you invest a little of your time on a consistent basis.