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6 Ways to use LinkedIn to increase your business network

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LinkedIn is a social networking platform oriented a lot more than the others towards building and maintaining professional relationships. You can find prospects, business partners, employees or you can find an employee on LinkedIn if you’re looking for a job.

It is quite critical to use LinkedIn as you’re supposed to, otherwise it can significantly decrease your credibility and will definitely harm your reputation as a professional.

In this article we will provide you 6 tips on how to use LinkedIn to build relationships and find customers for your business – LinkedIn can be the single most amazing social channel to use to find clients, if used wisely. Ready to jump in? Let’s go!

1. Have a top-notch profile

Be it a “personal” profile or a business page, your LinkedIn profile should be updated with the latest information and should contain keywords that will make you easy to be found for the kind of people/businesses that are looking for you.

The most important elements where your strong keywords should be are the title and the summary section of your individual profile. For example, if you are a founder of a Web Design company, make sure you write “Web Design Expert” or something like that in your title, not “Founder”. No-one will look for a founder if they need a Web Design service. They will look for experts/specialists! Keep the “Founder” lower down, for people who do want to find out more about you.

Keep in mind you only show in your connection’s searches: first- , second- and third- degree connections and people with whom you are in the same groups. That is one reason why you should invite/accept invitations from strangers too, if they might be of business interest to you. Only be careful you can send up to 3,000 invites on LinkedIn, so don’t invite connections stupidly.

2. Building & keeping business relationships

Or, something similar to creating strategic alliances. Find peers in your network that address the same market as you do but don’t offer the same products or services. Instead, they offer complementary products or services. Talk to them and try fostering relationships that will benefit both parts, as you both will become stronger in what you offer for the target market.

This is not just about referrals – although this is a big part of it, but also about the credibility that both of you achieve by partnering up.

3. Look up for the kind of people you want as clients

Two important tips here:
a. Look up groups where you future clients are. Join the groups and join the conversations inside. Position yourself as an expert in the field. Avoid too much promotion. Remember that joining the groups will increase your search connections by adding the groups peers.
b. Use the Advanced search option inside LinkedIn to look for connections – use the country, industry, function or other advanced search options to find the kind of people you want

You can also Save your search options so that you can use the same criterias again in the future if you want.

4. Personalise your Invite message

Once you have found someone you want to connect to, send them an invitation by crafting a personalized message – it will increase the chances the other person will accept your invitation.

The message should attract the other person in finding out more about you and/or your business, to become at least a little bit curious about how can you help him/her. Be brief, but interesting and avoid sounding like spam.

You can also contact the people you want by using a paid service LinkedIn is offering – InMail. You can always upgrade your free account in order to benefit of this option.

5. Nurture your relationships

Ok, adding the new business contact was a success! What now?

If the new contact can be easily a client, then start by engaging in professional personalized conversations. Send him/her a personalized email with the proposal you have. Or, if it’s just about building trust, send the new contact a free material (eBook, video etc.) that can be of value to him/her. The limit between perceived value and perceived spam is very thin, so be sure to be of value rather than send anything at all.

If you want to keep contact communication, use the LinkedIn Contacts features (detailed here). These are extremely powerful to keep in touch but to avoid being annoying in the same time. You can use LinkedIn Contacts to:
– Classify your contacts by adding personally defined tags
– Add notes so that you are reminded of what you have discussed so far with that contact, or some other information you might need in the future
– Congratulate people for their achievements or say Happy Birthday under contacts – LinkedIn selects them for you every day!

Not forgetting about the personal side on LinkedIn can foster the business relationships too! So say congratulations on anything important happening on your contact’s life’s!

6. Move the Online Connection into Offline Conversations

If in the same time zone, try to meet the people you’re having business conversations with on LinkedIn. Chances are a business partnership or a sale will happen if meeting in real person and move beyond a message on a social platform.

The real connections are still happening in the real world – so move on to where the magic happens! You’ve got the great opportunity to be in contact with a person that matters to your business – ask for a business meeting to move closer to a sale/partnership.

Not to forget – we’re always open to learn too. If you’ve tried something truly awesome on LinkedIn and it resulted in contact building and conversion, please share! Sharing is caring after all, and we’d love to be cared about! Thank you for your time and see you soon!