Are you on LinkedIn? Did you setup an account there years ago but rarely leverage your contacts? Perhaps you're a LinkedIn regular, but you want to take your your efforts to the next level?
This article will reveal five ways you can build meaningful relationships on LinkedIn that will lead to business opportunities.
Is LinkedIn Not Working For You?
Up to this point, you've probably focused on building up your connections to grow your online influence and visibility. However, the greater challenge lies in actually going deeper with those connections that you've made online. If you're simply connected to someone but have no further dialogue, what have you really accomplished?
The lifeline of new and existing business is relationships, and having meaningful conversations and in-person meetings are crucial in order to move from the connection phase into the relationship phase.
How can you leverage your professional presence on LinkedIn to connect on a deeper level with people and turn those connections into more meaningful relationships?
#1: Timing Is Everything
The time to go deeper with a connection is when you're top of mind; after you've made a new connection, an introduction, received an introduction, answered a question, received an answer to a question and even after someone has commented on your status update or group discussion!
Action Step: All of these situations give you a reason to take the next step and initiate a related conversation. Give a compliment, ask a question, ask for a favor, ask for advice, or ask for an introduction soon after you've had a basic interaction with one of your first-, second- or third-degree connections. Conversations can lead to phone calls, ongoing dialogue and potentially even in-person meetings!
#2: Leveraging Events
If you're paying attention to what your LinkedIn connections are up to, you may be able to see if they're planning to attend an upcoming event if it is highlighted in the LinkedIn network. Look for events in your area that you're also planning to attend or may possibly attend. Live events provide an excellent opportunity to meet and converse with online connections even if they're second- or third-degree connections!
Action Step: Visit the event RSVP page, determine who's attending and reach out to one or two of those individuals. You can either send a message (if you have a first-degree or group connection) or an InMailTM (if second or third degree, or no group connection) letting them know that you'll also be in attendance and that you look forward to the opportunity to meet them in person. This is a very nonthreatening way to get face-to-face and go deeper with your connections of every degree.
#3: Sync Geography With Travel
Perhaps you have clients in several geographical locations. Where does your network live and work? Under the “My Connections” tab, you can see the location of all of your connections. Let's say you have a business trip planned to New York City to visit one client, but 15 connections are there whom you might also be able to get in front of. Or perhaps there are a number of connections within the same city whom you can bring together for a special lunch or dinner!
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Action Step: Contact connections to let them know you're going to be in their area soon and ask them if they'd like to meet for coffee or lunch so you can spend a few minutes learning more about their business. Or contact several connections who have complimentary businesses and live in the same area and invite them to a small-group networking dinner!
#4: Ask for Advice
Most influential people don't like to have their brains picked, but everyone loves to give advice whether they admit it or not! People love to give their opinions when asked, and asking for advice can actually endear you to people because it makes them feel important.
When you reach out to an influential connection, first explain who you are, reference a common thread, give a genuine compliment, ask for advice, and explain your reason for doing so. Always have a reason when asking for advice. You'll be amazed at how you can open the door to building a deeper relationship around common personal and professional interests by asking for advice!
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Action Step: For example: “Hi John, we connected recently here on LinkedIn and I noticed that you commented about the upcoming technology event taking place next month in Seattle. It appears that you've attended in the past and you really seem to have a grasp on the subject matter. I'd like to ask whether you think it's a good fit for a marketing team to attend, as I am thinking about taking my company. Thanks so much in advance for sharing your thoughts!
#5: Be a Resource
Going beyond basic listening and serving as a resource to your connections is a powerful way to stay top of mind and develop more meaningful relationships on LinkedIn. Review status updates, discussion topics and questions from your connections frequently to determine where you can add value, provide insight or resources, or help promote your connection through a key introduction.
Once your connections see you as a resource, they will classify you as a valued relationship in their network. Acting as a resource can create opportunities to move from online social networking to offline conversations and face-to-face meetings.
Action Step: Look for opportunities to reply to connections' status updates, questions or discussion topics publicly, and then send a more detailed message to them privately with additional tips and resources that can help accomplish their goals.
If the purpose of social media is to build your network of connections, you must also think about how to engage those connections to turn them into true relationships. As you build solid relationships, you'll create more opportunities for introductions and referrals into your own business.
There are plenty of resources available to help you grow your influence on LinkedIn. Here's a great resource for learning more about the basics of LinkedIn and also some top marketing tips that can help you gain greater visibility on this powerful, professional social network.
Challenge yourself to go out and participate on LinkedIn with a strategic focus on getting to know your connections better, and use the steps mentioned in this article to help you generate conversations and face-to-face meetings. You stand to gain a greater return on your social networking investment if you can turn connections into relationships. Good luck!
What do you think about these tips? Have you tried any? How is LinkedIn working for your business? Please leave your comments in the box below.
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