In a time where ‘social distancing’ is not only encouraged, but enforced in many regions, it may seem strange promoting networking — but hear us out.
We live in a highly digital era, where networking can be done in more ways than just in-person. And it’s more important now than ever to utilize these digital channels to continue to build your professional network.
When it comes to online networking channels, LinkedIn is king. And just like networking in person, LinkedIn networking requires making connections with other professionals and building and nurturing these relationships.
Here is how you can build a strong LinkedIn network and the benefits of doing so:
1) Spend time & effort perfecting your profile
You’ve probably had to ‘dress to impress’ before a big job interview or meeting with a client. First impressions are extremely important, after all. Think of your LinkedIn profile as your ‘dress to impress’ moment. It’s the first thing potential connections will look at before deciding to accept your invitation request.
Before you can begin to build your LinkedIn network, you need to start with the basics and create a compelling profile.
Here are some profile must-haves:
Ultimately you want your profile to stand out in a positive way so that people want to be connected to you and see value from having you in their network.
For more tips on how to ramp up your LinkedIn profile, check out this blog.
2) Reach out & connect with like-minded professionals
The beauty of LinkedIn is that you get a glimpse into everyone’s professional life before even starting a conversation.
Take a quick peek at someone’s profile to see if they’re someone you want to have in your network. These could be people that are in the same industry as you that you hope to collaborate with, people in your target audience you hope to gain as customers, influencers in the industry that post valuable content you could learn from, or simply just like-minded professionals you think would be a nice addition to your network. Not all connections need to be someone you can see yourself just selling to.
When you’re ready to send an invitation request, make sure you craft a personalized invitation message. Keep it professional, friendly and concise. A good entry point is if you have something in common you can call out, such as mutual connection, similar skillset, or job history.
3) Actively participate in LinkedIn groups
LinkedIn has several user groups you can join. For example, as a marketer, I am in a number of groups dedicated to digital marketing and content marketing. Joining and actively participating in these groups is a fantastic way to build a strong LinkedIn network with people that are all interested in similar topics.
These groups will not only grant your access to other professionals in your industry, but they are filled with valuable resources, tips, best practices, real-life use cases; the list goes on.
One of our customers participates in several user groups dedicated to business development and growth, and someone in one of her groups talked about a product they recently discovered that helped them generate a high volume of valuable leads for their company (spoiler alert: it’s us!). She immediately purchased CoPilot AI and saw results right away. Had she not been in that group, she may not have heard about us. You can read her full story here.
You can also join groups specific to your region, so once we no longer have to social distance, you can actually expand your in-person network as well.
4) Build & nurture your relationships
One of the most, if not the most, important aspects of networking is relationship building and nurturing. When it comes to your LinkedIn network, it’s not enough to just connect if the person you’re connecting with is someone you want to actually do business with at some point. You need to engage with these people regularly.
Start conversations with individuals in your network you hope to do business with and start relationship building by learning about them, their business, goals etc.
Be persistent in your follow-ups, but also be organized. If someone specifically says ‘now isn’t a good time, follow-up in a month’, set a reminder to follow-up in a month.
It is also a good idea to engage with your LinkedIn network on a broader scale to remain familiar with your network. The best ways to do that is by:
Most importantly, remember to be human.
There is a big misconception that in-person networking events are more valuable because of the face-to-face interactions and that digital networking isn’t as personable. That doesn’t have to be the case at all.
There are a couple of ways to combat this; shoot someone a quick congratulatory message if you notice they recently got a promotion or started a new job. You can also send friendly birthday greetings. But ultimately, nurturing these relationships is about conversing and listening.
A great example of building and nurturing your LinkedIn network is from one of our customers who wanted to do business with a LinkedIn connection. During one of their discussions, the potential client mentioned he was going out for dinner with his spouse to celebrate their anniversary. Our customer asked which restaurant they were going to, then phoned ahead and arranged for a bottle of champagne to be at the table for them when they arrived. He became one of his most valuable clients after that.
The power of networking on LinkedIn
While the current climate surrounding COVID-19 and social distancing is sensitive, it is never a bad time to continue networking and nurturing professional relationships. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to expand your network, both virtually and in-person.
Talk to us for more LinkedIn tips, tricks and best practices.
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