How many LinkedIn connections do YOU have? If you are like most international-minded business people, you probably have a few hundred, but do you actually know how to use this professional social network to get more customers?

Since 2003 LinkedIn has become the most innovative and effective way to achieve success in social selling, and in recent years its influence has reached Taiwan.

Realizing LinkedIn’s potential in connecting Taiwan to the world, Enspyre’s Start a Business in Taiwan invited LinkedIn expert Frank Mittermüller to share his knowledge (2014/11/23). Entrepreneurs, marketers, salespeople and managers from ITRI and the French and Swedish Chambers of Commerce came to listen and learn.

Mittermüller gained his LinkedIn knowledge through his own experiences. With LinkedIn, he successfully landed perspective jobs in Spain and Taiwan. At those jobs he also reached new customers using LinkedIn.

Mittermüller started with a detailed description on how to build a good profile page. When you are connecting to someone you don’t know on LinkedIn, all details on your profile can affect their feelings toward you. Any negative feeling given to others can cause unwillingness to confirm the connection which may cause LinkedIn to regard you as a spammer and lock your account. Providing a friendly, professional profile is the first step.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so choosing a great profile picture is crucial. Frank listed seven common mistakes – the Selfie, Bad light, Inappropriate, Boring, black and white, party pic, and not having a picture at all, what he calls “the ghost”. He suggests we should go to a photographer and take a professional picture suitable for your industry. It might cost you a thousand or so but should be well worth the investment.

Another big mistake is to use the standard text to connect to people.

“Hi XYZ,
I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.”

This text gives no value to the person you are trying to connect with, it doesn’t tell them why they should connect with you. If you have met them before it does not remind them when and where. Take the time to write something more personal that matters to the other person.

So, what happens after you have successfully connected to the person you want? Mittermüller elaborated on how to establish ties. “It’s all about social debt,” he said. By sending personalized messages, you can offer them small values first, then gradually create social debt. According to psychology, when people are given things from others, they tend to feel a sense of guilt that they should give something in return. When you need some help in the future, they will be more likely to give you a hand.

The participants came from different backgrounds and heated discussions on their startup experiences, sales techniques and LinkedIn experiences filled the room with excitement.

Many foreign entrepreneurs were also interested in Enspyre’s book “How to Start a Business in Taiwan.”

The second session was a workshop where Mittermüller helped participants put all the tips into practice. Mittermüller also provided templates for personal messages and recommended groups that may help with the their business.

Many of the participants said they found the information shared very useful, and were all deeply interested in using LinkedIn to develop their business in the future. Imagine that, a social network where cute cat videos does not reign supreme.