September 22, 2014
Posted by: Grant Owens
We’ve talked about how valuable LinkedIn can be to your business, but we haven’t talked about how to do it well. Like every other human interaction, there’s a right and a wrong way to use any social media. LinkedIn is no different.
LinkedIn is famous for insisting that you know the people you connect with. But, anyone who’s spent time on LinkedIn knows that users have ignored this admonishment for a long time.
Don’t worry too much about only connecting with people you’ve already met, but do make sure you reach out with a purpose.
On Twitter, you can follow anyone you want for any reason. It’s a one-to-many platform, and it’s unimportant that you have a particular reason for following someone.
On LinkedIn, though, you should only connect with people you want to do business with. If you haven’t met them yet, but know you can provide them value, go ahead and send the invite. If they’re just someone you want to know, hold off until you actually have a good reason for taking up their time.
One of the worst things you can do is follow up a invitation acceptance with a sales letter. If your goal is hard sales, you’re better off cold calling or launching an email campaign.
Instead, once your contact has accepted the invite, reach out with a message about a mutual interest or connection. Thank them for the connection, and leave it at that.
This is called establishing a relationship. It’s human interaction 101, and yet we so often forget that people are the most important thing in business. Your contact isn’t a prospect. They’re a real person with real needs, worries, and passions.
Connect on a human level. Don’t worry yet about selling anything. The best partnerships are born out of human connection, and there’s no reason to rush that.
Another important piece to your LinkedIn strategy should be groups.
There are hundreds of groups for every kind of interest on LinkedIn. Some are fluff, of course, but finding the right ones can open up connections and conversations you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Look for local groups, groups within your industry, and groups of peers like business leaders or professional women. Don’t go in with an agenda. Instead, be human and see what happens.
Really, the key to LinkedIn is to be yourself. Because LinkedIn is the “professional network” it can seem like you need to put on your business face. But, just like anywhere else, you’ll find that letting your guard down and being a regular person will get you farther than any tactic.