Business owners have lost the ability to prospect like we used to be able to. For the foreseeable future, networking events, business groups, and in-person workshops and conferences are on pause.
So many business owners who didn’t have to rely on social media to network turned to their preferred platforms in droves, ready to roll up their sleeves to generate business.
But there’s something about a screen that makes us forget the basics of human interaction sometimes, isn’t there?
One platform that saw exponential growth during the global pandemic, with exponential growth happening quarter after quarter, was LinkedIn.
First a caveat, LinkedIn is my favourite social network. I happen to think it’s a perfect place for business owners to set up shop. A really dialed in strategy on LinkedIn can turn your presence there into a marketing machine.
How can you dip your toes in and decide if it’s the right place to market your business?
1. Let’s talk about how you can show up on the world’s biggest social network and move the dial in your business.
The first step in any strategy involving LinkedIn is to optimize your profile. That means writing a Headline, About section and Experience section that speaks to your ideal client. There are more elements involved in a fully optimized profile and I’ll get to the nuts and bolts later on. For now, think of your profile as your online business card. You wouldn’t show up at a networking event without one and you wouldn’t hand one to someone scribbled on the back of a greasy napkin. This step is vital for setting a good first impression.
Next, we need to find the right people to network with. There are three categories I like to start with.
- Your ideal clients
- Your industry influencers
- Your current/former supporters (be that colleagues or friends)
LinkedIn’s search capabilities are powerful, even on the free version. You can search by industry, titles, key words, geography, alma mater and so much more. Find the right people to connect with and you’re beginning to build your network with intention.
It’s important to understand that you are networking BEFORE you hit ‘connect’. When you visit someone’s profile to learn more about them, they will be notified that you were there. When you send a connection request, you have an opportunity to personalize the invitation. These two steps are a great way to ‘warm’ up your potential connection, making your request to connect that much more of a no-brainer on their end.
2. Find your new friends- on and off LinkedIn
LinkedIn groups are not a great place to hang out these days but they can still serve a purpose.
Finding groups that your ideal clients are members of is a great way to find more people that might be a good fit to connect with. Think like your ideal client- what groups would they want to be a part of in order to learn, network or find their own opportunities? When you’ve found the group, you can request to connect with the members. Mentioning that you’re card-carrying members of the same group adds a level of trust that helps the connection feel more organic.
3. Do this with groups on Facebook or rooms on Clubhouse.
Being one of hundreds or thousands of people hanging out in a Clubhouse room or in a facebook group has its place but for our purposes of networking on LinkedIn, finding people on those sights and connecting with on LinkedIn can be extremely powerful. Mentioning the group/room and any questions or comments they’ve made that are relevant to you and your work is a great way to stand out from the crowd and begin to build that relationship.
You’ve optimized your profile, you’re building your network intentionally but now what?
Now you can begin to nurture your connections by sharing content that is of value to them and by spending time showing appreciation for the value they’re sharing by engaging on their content.
This is where the screen can sometimes bamboozle us.
In a real-life networking event, you would barely have to think about how to respond to people when you’re having a conversation. When we’re behind a screen, we may not respond at all. But that won’t get us anywhere here on LinkedIn.
The good news is, you can turbo speed your networking efforts by commenting on people’s content regularly with thoughtful insights because the vast majority of people online are simply ingesting content and scrolling on.
Speaking of being the minority who get things right on LinkedIn, if you’re producing content, you’re part of an elite group. Less than 1% of the over 700 million active users are producing content.
That means, if you are producing content that shares value and positions you as the expert, you’re getting up in front of the entire networking event and grabbing the mic. This is an opportunity to become a resource, the go-to in your field and to build trust and rapport.
When you are engaging authentically on content, connecting with the right people by starting with a friendly invite, it becomes more natural to have conversation behind the scenes as well. Just like in real life, you don’t have to think so hard about how this networking stuff works when you’re focusing on building relationships based on delivering value, by being of service and by showing up- as opposed to thinking about how every conversation must turn into a sale.
If you need help optimizing your profile, starting conversations, and learning how to produce content that positions you as the expert, download the LinkedIn Success Roadmap. It’s a bundle that goes more in-depth into the three main pieces that help you network and find success on LinkedIn- your profile, your content, and your connection/messaging strategy. You can find it here.
Carly Martin is an experienced social media and digital marketer with Hawthorne House Media (since Facebook had organic reach!). With a special place in her heart for LinkedIn, she helps coaches and consultants build their brands, generate leads, and be positioned as experts in their industries using the world’s largest social network for professionals. She lives on an Island (home of Anne of Green Gables, no relation) in Atlantic Canada with her husband and three kids. You can learn more at hawthornehousemedia.com or find her at her
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