LinkedIn has over 645 million users worldwide. 20 million of those users are from the UK, which makes up about 58% of the nation’s population. LinkedIn is otherwise known as the Facebook for professionals. It is a great digital resource that enables you to make connections, share your successes and grow your business overall. With that in mind, it is usually the most spam-filled format as professionals try to B2B network with you through direct message marketing.
If you have a LinkedIn yourself (find our company page here), you know that your inbox is full of people you have probably never met, but reluctantly accepted their follow request anyway. These people are constantly trying to link up with you to gain commissions or hire you. LinkedIn can be a major network and client base growing platform, but only if done so correctly. But just like a cold call, it often turns out to be spam-laced content and something that will never be replied to.
Sales over spam
Companies often send a message en masse, so you will need to establish yourself as different than the rest, to truly stand out. If you are pitching for recruitment or wanting to genuinely connect with someone you might think would be a good networking connection to have, you should focus on the sales side rather than the spam side, hoping for a chance they will reply. Here are the best practices to up your networking game and produce content that is less spammy and more sales-y with that magic touch-of-personality.
- Research them first. The key here is to find out the pertinent data you will need to connect with them – have talking points, but don’t sound stalker-ish. According to information gathered by 99firms, LinkedIn has 63 million decision-makers and over 90 million senior-level influencers just waiting for your connection. For these prime B2B agents, you should know where they work, how long they have been there, and their position at the company. Any other useful tips like hobbies or charity work is just a bonus.
- Personalise it. Next you would want to connect with them. It is always good to send a message with your invite, explain why you want to be their friend and how it could benefit you both. Make it quirky and personal, rather than serious so it can catch their eye. Do you have mutual friends in common? Interests that you are both into? Again, knowing your research really helps to build more of a rapport rather than just clicking “invite.” Your personal touch should inspire action, instead of them just accepting you or even worse clicking the “I don’t know this person” button!
Did you also know that more than 5 invites clicking that stranger-danger button, lands you in LinkedIn “jail”? All the more reason to make it personal and clever!
- Make it pointed. Are you selling yourself as talent? Wanting to recruit them for a potential job? Or simply wanting to make the connections for any future networking? Make sure your messages are clear and reflect this. If you establish trust through short and easy to read messages, they are more likely to respond.
- Reputable and strong branding. This means quality content sharing on your page and on your company page while you wait for them to click accept. Don’t assume they won’t do their research back! You should have strong branding and consistency through your regular posts and shares from your company page. If they are constantly seeing you and your branding, you will always stay top of mind for them. Remember, any write-ups or post content should be short, punchy and not littered with spelling or grammar mistakes. Haven’t taken a recent profile picture? Make sure it’s smart and professional, but also personal! (LinkedIn has a reputation for professional headshots, but also allows more striking and personal photos to be accepted as the norm. It’s okay to have a skyline or sunset in your photo, as long as someone can clearly see your face and you are modestly dressed.)
- No spam. Nobody likes to see a clinger once they have accepted you into their connections. Send the message to them once and wait for them to get back to you. It could be that they only check their messages once a week or longer. If they don’t respond, try engaging with them through the content they share. Comments or likes are usually noticed more and will highlight that you are real, interested and mean business.
- Offline trajectory. Like any connection, it should blossom enough to be taken offline. Are they willing to meet up with you for coffee? How about a Skype call to showcase your talents or potentially to help them? Reaching out to them for a meet-up or a quick call allows you to get to know them better and add them as a contact outside of the LinkedIn circle. You never know where that could take you!
Use these helpful tips to establish real connections and aim for making a long-lasting business relationship rather than another connection you will likely never meet. Thinking in terms of the long game will allow you to successfully navigate your habits and interactions and add value with everything you do. LinkedIn probably isn’t the place to close the deal, so taking the prospect somewhere else can be key to setting you for the final moment where that happens.