If you haven’t yet started looking at LinkedIn as a powerful social network to build and nurture powerful business relationships, here are a few statistics to drive home the importance of this platform; for starters, did you know that more than 13 million owners of small businesses are on the platform? Did you know that there are at least 2.2 million C-Suite level executives on LinkedIn, and also approximately 1.7 million managers, business directors or enterprise-level senior employees? Just imagine this goldmine of possible connections and what they can do for your business!
Now that we have your attention regarding how vital LinkedIn can be as you seek to build strong business relationships, let us dive right in and show you how you can get started in growing meaningful connections on this platform.
Choose your target audience
Resources, such as time, are scarce, and we don’t want you to try and reach out to as many of the 175+ million LinkedIn users around the globe as you can. Instead, we recommend that you get laser-focused on which type of people/connections you are seeking.
For example, if you own a food service business, you might want to connect with other professionals in your niche, as well as large organizations that may be interested in what you offer.
Once you have a good grasp of what your target audience is, the ground is set for you to take the next steps to connect with the individuals that fit that criterion.
Polish your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile can make or break your desire to create strong business relationships on this platform. This is because your profile is the first point of contact that people will have with you, and as you know, first impressions matter a great deal in all human interactions.
If your profile is wanting in any way, such as having a bio that doesn’t paint a clear picture of who you are and what you do, or your profile picture doesn’t look professional, many of the people you reach out to may never accept your request to connect.
Ensure that your profile is complete and in addition to giving information about who you are, your credentials and what you have to offer, make it a point to include other ways through which you can be contacted or followed. This may include your Twitter handle, your Facebook (Meta) page, and any other such socials.
Once you sign off on polishing your profile, it should create a distinct impression that you are a serious professional who can be relied upon in their area of expertise.
Aim to help, not sell
Remember, LinkedIn is a social networking platform and people go to these platforms in order to interact. It is therefore unwise for you to go all out from the get-go trying to sell your products or services to the people you connect with on LinkedIn.
You don’t build relationships by going hard with your need to sell something. Rather, position yourself as someone who is genuinely interested in helping the people you connect with. Offer helpful advice, share useful material (links to articles on how to solve a particular pain point, for example).
As more and more people start relying on you as the go-to person when they need help, you will establish yourself as an authority and chances are high that many of your connections will want to do business with you. Actually, you can mention that you are available to discuss how you can offer additional help (at a fee) once a connection expresses interest in pursuing a discussion you have had on the platform.
Join LinkedIn groups within your niche
Another way to build strong business relationships on LinkedIn is by seeking out and joining groups in your areas of interest. Those groups will give you a wide pool of professionals to connect with, so growing your network will be a breeze.
Secondly, LinkedIn groups give you an opportunity to showcase your expertise. Answer questions posed, comment on the posts shared and generally be as helpful as you can in order to get noticed as an authority.
Those interactions in the groups can result into follow-up phone calls or even in-person meetings to further discuss a matter of mutual interest. Once your connections get to this level, it is only a matter of time before business referrals start coming your way or the connections hire you to help with a challenge they are facing.
Don’t forget offline approaches while building your LinkedIn network
As you may know, the line between online and offline is blurring at a fast rate, so it is important for you to leverage any offline networking techniques you know while connecting on LinkedIn.
For example, online interactions can be cold and impersonal, but you can borrow from your offline interactions and take steps to personalize everything you do as you interact with your LinkedIn connections or prospects. How about addressing the person by name each time you interact with that individual? How about focusing on their needs rather than making the interaction all about you? How about doing your homework and then reaching out based on commonalities between you in order to give the other party a reason to want to connect with you?
Remember, people don’t have a lot of time to waste, and there is more than enough demanding their attention. As you build your network on LinkedIn, endeavor to be as concise as possible so that you don’t waste people’s valuable time. Your chances of getting a favorable response will be higher and you can take the connection to the next level.
In short, do everything you would do to nurture an offline networking opportunity while you interact with your connections on LinkedIn. This will result in the creation of a meaningful network of connections rather than simply connecting with so many people who aren’t of much use to you and your business.
In closing, LinkedIn provides one of the most trusted platforms where professionals from all walks of life can connect and interact. Once you design a deliberate strategy to utilize this platform it will not be long before the connections you make result into solid leads for your business. Remember, business success is no longer just about what you know, but rather who you know. There are millions of professionals on LinkedIn that you can tap on your journey to business success, go out there and get connected!
To Your Success,