Winston Rowe & Associates is a national non investment due diligence and advisory firm with a core focus of assisting clients with the structuring complex commercial real estate transactions.
We have prepared this knowledge based article to help business professionals to utilize LinkedIn to grow their businesses and to build professional social networks.
Many people set up a profile, connect with some friends, and then leave it at that. Another class of LinkedIn users are much more active, but perhaps too active, spamming their connections and LinkedIn groups with get-rich-quick schemes or articles, the posting of which is designed more to bring attention to the one doing the posting than to provide any true value to LinkedIn users.
Connecting and effectively communicating with people through LinkedIn is no different than dealing with people outside of the network. Whether they are a supplier, potential partner or customer you need to build enough value for them to trust you in order for them to grow an interest in your company and therefore your product/service.
I can’t recall how many times I have accepted a connection invite from someone to then receive an email marketing spiel about who they are, what they can do for me and how much it is going to cost me. Oh and I forgot to mention that none of this was addressed to me personally, no name at the top of the email.
To be successful on LinkedIn and in business overall you have to add value first. Just because they accepted your connection invite doesn’t mean they are interested in what you have to say, remember this quote: “To be interesting you have to be interested.”
Before you start emailing marketing to your contacts, think of a few ways you could add value to them. For example it may be that within your connections there are about 100 accountants of whom you have recently connected and would like to potentially partner with. Your first email could be a sending a link to a recent article knowledge based article that you published. This shows you were thinking of him/her. Your second email could be a FREE EBook you have found that helps accountants generate more business etc.
This will help develop the trust and rapport necessary between your connection so that when you contact them to hold a meeting they not only recognize you but most importantly interested.
Building Your Connections
Building your connections for the sake of having a large following is not really a sound strategy if you want to effectively grow your business using LinkedIn. Every connection needs to be linked to your goals and objectives in business both now and in the future.
Before growing your network on LinkedIn take a step back and think about some of the goals you would like to achieve within your business over the next year or so. With these goals in mind now think about who you need to connect with in order to help you achieve those goals. For example when I first started using LinkedIn I just launched my business advisory service and given I had no personal brand other then my results in business I knew this was one of the areas I needed to develop.
And as many of you would know one way to build your brand is through PR. With this goal in mind I then connected with over 500 journalist, editors and bloggers online and in a space of a couple of months I managed to get featured in over 40 publications and now write for a few business magazines.
Segmenting your connections
I learnt the importance of segmenting your connections the hard way. Within my first 6 months of using LinkedIn I had connected with over 1000 people within 3 different industries: Media, Accounting & Events.
My aim was to use the media contacts to get some PR exposure, accounting connections to create a few joint venture relationships and connections within the events industry to hopefully get some speaking gigs.
There was just one problem though: All my connections were mixed in with one another, not by choice but by default. You see, little to my knowledge I wasn’t aware that all new connections are automatically tagged under a folder which LinkedIn calls: Untagged.
I knew that in order for me to reach any level of success I would have to personalize my communication and because I could not properly assess who was who quickly within the tags section I had to go through the entire (1000) connections in the untagged folder and re-tag them accordingly.
Whilst it was tedious and frustrating at the best of times it was also very empowering. By the end of the process I knew precisely how many connections I had in each industry, which therefore helped me effectively, communicate my message.