Why you need to be on LinkedIn as a vegan professional
You may think LinkedIn isn’t for you – but before you skip over this article you need to know that LinkedIn is a hub of vegan activity.
It can give you the best chance to connect with executives at larger companies that you can’t access through other channels, as well as collaborate with other vegan professionals.
The evolution of LinkedIn
For many years LinkedIn was viewed simply as a tool people used to search for another job. It then evolved much further into something people and businesses actively used to network and sell their services and products. However, over the past few years LinkedIn has evolved far beyond this; it has quickly transformed itself into the professional version of Facebook.
With time moving on and the platform introducing new features (even the welcome introduction of more emotive reactions to posts) LinkedIn is attracting a much more varied type of user. As a result, its content is also becoming much more interesting. OK, so there are still some people using it in the traditional ways; there are still some users and company pages constantly pushing out sell messages. However, these are being increasingly diluted by people actually having interesting conversations with each other, posting sector-relevant content and commenting on it, taking daily short videos to create more personal connections with their network, and even posting selfies of what they’ve been up to on that day.
LinkedIn has become a treasure-trove of interesting information, up-to-date conversation points, and some truly fabulous people who want to engage. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, or you haven’t logged in for years, or you’re using it but not getting much out of it, then now is the time to really plug yourself in and create some noise for yourself there.
Using LinkedIn to connect with the right people
LinkedIn is the place where you can find and connect with the sort of people you can’t connect with on any other social media platform. For example, you have the opportunity to connect with executives in larger companies, and you can also have direct contact with buyers in national outlets. From investors to mentors also, LinkedIn users are all the sorts of people who you’re either not going to find on Instagram or who won’t personally engage with you there, and those who are on Facebook but wouldn’t accept your friend request. You’d be surprised how often an executive who you’ve been trying to contact by phone or email unsuccessfully will reply to a LinkedIn message.
You may be wondering how to start this process though – you’re not even connected on LinkedIn to these people. Firstly, make a list of individual people and target companies who you either want to be a customer or you want to be involved with; this is going to be your LinkedIn connection campaign. Secondly, search for them all on LinkedIn and try to connect with them (if you’re targeting a company, find the company page and click on ‘employees’ to find the people currently working there).
When you’re sending a connection request always make sure you add a personal note to it; keep it professional but be warm, friendly and personable at the same time. If the ‘connect’ option is greyed out it’s because you have too many degrees of separation at the moment. In this case just keep connecting with people in their sector and inevitably you’ll be able to come back at a later date and have enough mutual connections to be able to send them a connection request.
You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to grow your network and connections in this way; for example, I’ve easily been able to connect with Head of Plant-based Products at national supermarkets with only a few clicks through mutual connections. Then once you find and connect with one person at a company it becomes much easier to connect with others within that company, because someone is more likely to accept your connection request if you do have mutual connections – the more the better.
Another type of LinkedIn activity which can yield good results is finding groups that the people you’re trying to connect with are likely to be a part of. Join these groups and start posting and commenting on other people’s posts – engage engage engage! The more often people see your name, the more likely they are to engage with you. In this way, you may even find that some of the people you want to connect with send you connection requests first.
LinkedIn and the power of vegan
You may be rolling your eyes, think you’ve already got enough social media going on, you’re too busy to think about something else. However, LinkedIn is where you can create some real professional value for yourself, your company, and make truly invaluable connections – often without even trying. The reason for this? You’re vegan. You probably have no idea just how many vegans are using LinkedIn, some of whom have vegan businesses themselves, and others who are professionals in other sectors who are vegans. Equally, you don’t understand why you should connect with them, or how you’d even find vegans on LinkedIn.
Let me explain…
Networking without even needing to try (much)
If you start using LinkedIn and you make it clear upfront that you’re vegan and that you have a vegan business, in 12 months you’re going to be astounded by how many vegan connections you have. You’re not even going to need to put in that much effort.
The reason? We vegans want to connect with each other. We have this yearning for vegan community, people who share our values and ethics, people who understand us. This doesn’t change just because you’re in a professional setting. I’m always astounded when the tone of a professional conversation I’m having completely changes when myself and the person I’m talking with realise we’re both vegan; it’s still professional, but suddenly there’s common ground and we’re almost instant friends. It’s a strange thing, but it’s wonderful.
On LinkedIn there is an ever-increasing number of professional people who are vegan and leading with that on their profile. Some have vegan businesses, some are professionals in other industries but who proudly make themselves known as vegan upfront. It’s easy to lead with vegan on your LinkedIn profile, for example using the ⓥ symbol or 🌱 at the end of your name instantly makes you recognisable as vegan. In your headline you can add these symbols or the word vegan (note that the headline field is used by LinkedIn for searches, so if you want people to find you if they search for ‘vegan’ then this is where you want to put it).
So, lead with vegan, search for other vegans, and send connection invitations with a lovely personal message. When someone connects with you, send them a short message telling them it’s great to connect with fellow vegans (because it truly is) and ask them to tell you a little more about what they do. Starting professional conversations can be difficult, especially when coming in ‘cold’, but it is never difficult between vegans. It seems we all just want to talk to each other and support one another – it all helps the cause!
Why you should connect with other vegans
So, you may be thinking that it would be great to have LinkedIn up and working and have lots of vegan connections on there, but why? To what end?
To put it simply: vegans just want to help vegans. That’s it.
The more professional vegans you connect with, the more conversations you’re going to have with them. In turn, the more likely it is that you’re going to find the type of help or advice or service that you need (even if you don’t need it now, you’re building your tribe of people for when you do need them). Most vegan businesses would rather give their money to other vegan businesses when needed, which is why anything from vegan accountants to vegan virtual assistants to vegan photographers are now becoming more commonplace. This is a wonderful development, as it means more of us are using our skillsets and veganising them in order to create a vegan professional community.
So, you may be thinking why LinkedIn, to what end? To put it simply:
vegans want to help vegans.
What’s going to really surprise you
You might not be looking for collaborations or teamwork. You may not feel you need help or advice in any areas. Even then, not only are you going to end up connecting with vegan professionals, you’re going to end up helping each other out. I’m not necessarily saying that professionals in the vegan community offer their services to each other for free (although this does sometimes happen). What I am saying is that if you’re wanting a bit of advice or help which isn’t going to cost someone more than an hour, they’re usually more than happy to help a fellow vegan.
I’ve experienced this over and over again. I’ve been astounded by the warmth and kindness from my vegan connections on LinkedIn, and how readily they’ve offered insight when asked. Equally, I’m happy to pay it forward when I get a message from a new connection asking a simple question. You must remember that all of this must be within reason though – you shouldn’t send a connection request and once accepted follow up with a string of questions, or one question which would be the equivalent of giving what they usually get paid for but for free. A little friendship-making first and perhaps you can swing it towards this way in time, but never ever lead with that.
Also, if you’re going to ask something, then make it a relatively short message – the shorter it is, the easier and quicker it is to answer, so the more likely you are to get a response. Although remember if you ask a question it may sometimes take a few weeks to get an answer, so be patient (everyone is busy and LinkedIn is rarely a top 5 priority for anyone).
It’s likely that by helping other vegans, having conversations, and allowing them to help you, is all going to result in some interesting collaborations and thought pieces which you just wouldn’t have dreamed of at this point.
Remember: the worst someone can do is say “no”. That’s it. So, once you’ve built up at least a small friendly rapport with someone, ask the question. You’ll be surprised how often you get a positive response when we’re vegans (even if they can’t offer the help you’ve asked for).
How to find other vegans
You want to start building your vegan professional network, so where do you start? The search bar of course!
Type in vegan and you’re already on to a wealth of different vegan professional groups you can start posting in and commenting on. Search for vegan people and look out for the Ⓥ symbol or 🌱 at the end of names. Search for any vegan businesses and charities, follow their company pages and also look at the list of their employees (link for this is always located on the company page).
Keep checking your LinkedIn feed and like other people’s posts, comment on them. The more you do this, the more your name is going to be seen not only by the person who posted it but by other people who see their post. It never ceases to amaze me how many connection requests I get just because I’ve commented on another vegan’s post; in every instance it raises your visibility to others.
LinkedIn vegan top tips to get you started:
There are lots of great guides to get the most out of LinkedIn, but as a vegan professional, make sure that:
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