With 722 million members, LinkedIn is the largest social-media platform for business interactions. It's a powerful tool for both recruiters and job seekers, as well as business-to-business (B2B) interactions: 55 million companies and 61 million senior-level influencers are on LinkedIn. With so much opportunity, it's important to have a LinkedIn strategy that helps you build relationships for a high return. So what does that look like?
Like any other large social-media platform, as LinkedIn grows there are more and more people who use the platform to spam users directly in an attempt to sell something. It might be tempting to go this route, but building relationships before selling is key on LinkedIn. This way, you build trust with potential clients or customers, which will make them much more likely to buy what you’re selling.
With the right LinkedIn strategy, you can easily form those relationships. LinkedIn states this itself: “LinkedIn is most effective when you use it as a relationship-building platform.” You might have hundreds of connections, but if you’re not building meaningful relationships with those connections, you won’t see much productivity or profitability from the platform.
Research your prospects
Before you connect with someone, do your research on him or her. Read through his or her profile, taking note of any commonalities you might share that you can bring up in later conversations. While you’re at it, check out what LinkedIn groups the person is in. Then, take your research off LinkedIn and check out his or her company’s website and social profiles. You can even google his or her name to get a complete picture of who the person is.
Use LinkedIn groups
Not sure where to find prospects? If you’ve exhausted your other lists, LinkedIn groups are a great place to look. The groups are meant to help people find others in the same industry or with shared interests. Since LinkedIn only allows you to join 50 groups, be mindful about which groups you join. You can also join groups that your prospects are in if you don’t have any other acquaintances to give yourself an in.
Be open and honest
When you connect with your prospect, send a personalized message along with it. Include why you’d like to connect and, if possible, include what the mutual benefit would be. Perhaps you just met at a networking event — or maybe you don’t know them at all and have no acquaintances. LinkedIn is made for these types of connections, so don’t be shy.
Keep the conversation flowing
Once you’ve made the connection, you have to keep in touch. Use your previous research to open up the conversation — what do you have in common? Is there anything on his or her profile, company’s website, or social media you can bring up? Whatever you land on, reach out to him or her about a week after connecting. This follow-up must be purely for value, with no sales or pitching involved. Your next goal should be to connect with him or her off LinkedIn — that might be a phone call, Zoom meeting or in-person coffee.
Don’t overload prospects
You know those annoying marketing emails — you sign up to get a free ebook and suddenly you’re getting two emails each day? Don’t be that person. Keep conversations short and avoid overloading his or her inbox. This will show that you respect his or her time, and you’re more likely to get responses with this approach.
Use LinkedIn’s tools
Implementing a LinkedIn content strategy and prospect strategy can get overwhelming, especially when you consider that this is just a fraction of your business tasks. Utilize the tools LinkedIn offers to help keep you on track:
Set reminders to follow up.
Use notes to remind yourself of the details you learned in your research.
Stay organized by tagging prospects depending on where you’re at with building the connection.
No matter your industry, LinkedIn is a powerful platform on which you can build relationships that lead to sales. Terri Hardin Jackson, a professional sculptor and speaker, used the platform to promote her book Tales from Terri: A Disney Sculptor’s Life. She wrote the book just to see what the experience was like and used LinkedIn to spread the word. By connecting with others, building relationships and sharing about her book, she sold out the collector’s edition. She also entered a writing contest and won thanks to the support she received from her LinkedIn connections, resulting in selling her memoir to an agent. From these events, Terri went on to book more public speaking engagements than ever — going from four per year to 25 in three months.
The lesson? You never know what your connections on LinkedIn might get you. Terri Hardin Jackson started with a LinkedIn content strategy centered around sharing her first book and got so much more in return. Build on your LinkedIn strategy today to create wins in the future.
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