Linked in is one of those social networks that’s geared toward business. But, I must admit… I didn’t really like LinkedIn at first. I didn’t really see much benefit to it except for maybe looking for a job… But, since I own my own business, that really wasn’t what suited me. I was more into networking with other freelance designers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs.
It wasn’t until later on that I started to see those that I know on LinkedIn. As it turned out, there were a lot of people I knew who were trying to connect with me on LinkedIn simply because I had an account. This was in spite of the fact that I hadn’t really used it for years.
When I logged back into LinkedIn, the interface was completely different, it was clean, easy to navigate and easy to find and connect with those I knew… Surprisingly what I found is that I could network on LinkedIn just like I do in person at events or functions. And just like in real life networking, I could use the same concepts on LinkedIn to get new customers.
Step 1: Connect with those you know or do business with
The first step to gaining new customers is to connect with those you already know or do business with. Connect with your current customers, your co-workers, and event those you’ve met at real life networking events. In fact, make it a habit to connect with those you’ve met at networking events. It can even go a long way to ask a person you’ve met if they are on LinkedIn and if they’d like to connect.
As a rule of thumb, you can never have too many connections. It is possible to have the wrong connections, but never too many. A person who has agreed to be connected with you has, for the most part, is someone who trusts you on a professional level. And the great thing about that trust factor is that it can be implied and passed on. For example. If you are connected to “Joe” and “Joe” is connected to “Sally”, then that implies that Joe trusts you and that Sally trusts Joe. And since Sally trusts Joe, it implies that Sally trusts you too… (or at least you have a better chance of earning Sally’s trust). It’s the classic math equation for those who think logically… If A = B and B = C, then A must = C…
Step 2: Connect with your connections connections.
The next level is to start connecting with 2nd level connections. 2nd level connections are those people that your connections are connected with. There are several ways to go about this. You could simply ask for a connection, you could ask for introductions, and more. Here are some techniques that have worked for me:
- Keep on the lookout for fresh connections. In the newsfeed when you see that someone has connected with someone you want to connect with too, ask for an introduction. You always have a better chance of an introduction when 2 people are first connected because they both know each other. If a connection gets too old, people tend to forget who they are and will ignore your request for an introduction. Just like in real life, nobody will introduce you to anyone they can’t remember anything about.
- Keep on the lookout for recommendations. Again, the newsfeed is a valuable resource because you can see what’s going on and capitalize on what you find there. When you see that someone has recommended someone else, that is a sign that the connection is a very positive one. You have a good chance of turning that positive energy into an introduction.
- Keep on the lookout for questions or problems where you know the answer. If you can help 2nd level people solve their problems, that will undoubtedly earn you a new connection. You can also take a look at LinkedIn groups and look for problems that you can solve. Above all, don’t be a salesperson, just be helpful.
Step 3: Reach the decision makers
With all the connections you’ll be making, you will more than likely come across 1 or 2 decision makers. And this is where the sweet spot is. If you can connect with and interact with decision makers, they will be more likely to think of you when they need the products or services you provide.
Some LinkedIn Best Practices
Before you get all gung-ho and start connecting with everybody, there are some things you should know and some etiquette you should always follow.
- Keep it professional. Never get into any kind of public match with anyone you meet on LinkedIn… Instead, simply remove that connection.
- Keep your profile up to date. Always make sure that your profile reflects the latest information. Also, post a professional photo and update it every so often.
- Participate in groups. Groups are one of LinkedIn’s most popular features. Joining or starting a group can skyrocket your connections and in many cases earn you additional business. It’s important to make sure that you contribute and what you contribute is relevant and helpful. Don’t be the guy that’s always posting ads for their own business.
- Don’t be annoying. Networking on LinkedIn is just like networking in real life. If you are annoying, you’ll get booted. Instead, listen to a conversation, and only chime in when you can provide relevant and valuable insight. Above all… be patient.
- Be yourself. I think this one goes without saying, but there is always that person who tries to be someone they’re not, and it shows. When you aren’t being yourself, people can tell… (Just like a dog can smell fear) But when you are genuine, you become likable… and likable is good.
- Don’t ask anyone you don’t know to recommend you. After all, how can they recommend you when they don’t even know you. Imagine being at a networking event and there’s someone going around to everyone, butting in and saying “Would you recommend me?” … awkward, right? If you want a recommendation, get to know the person first.
- Share valuable, high quality content. When it comes to LinkedIn, higher quality content seems to work best. Users don’t want their newsfeed to be cluttered with a bunch of self promotions, ads, or irrelevant content. If you constantly fill up everyone’s newsfeed, they’ll disconnect you.
- Above all, be social. Talk, chime in, participate, get to know people, mingle…. it’s just like networking, except online.
If all else fails, hire a professional
Let’s face it, getting new customers on LinkedIn can be a ton of work. Some of you may want to simply hire someone to mange your LinkedIn account for you. If this sounds like you, you can always give $ocial $en$e a try.