You wouldn’t go to a networking event, collect business cards, never do any follow up, and expect business to magically appear. Yet many people do exactly that and wonder why their LinkedIn contacts don’t turn into clients.
If you are a business owner or someone who’s responsible for business development or sales, you know that results come from the follow-up. Yet many people connect with their ideal clients or prospects on LinkedIn and never have a conversation with them after the initial connection.
In this article, I show you how you can build strong relationships with your LinkedIn contacts – because at the end of the day, people tend to do business with those they know, like and trust.
How to Build Strong Relationships with Your LinkedIn Contacts
1. Engage your connections by commenting on their content
You can start building relationships with your new connections in many ways – just not the way so many other people promote these days. And that is to send your LinkedIn contacts a Happy Birthday message on their birthday or to say Congratulations on their work anniversary.
I’m not suggesting sending good wishes to people is bad or wrong. But if you rely on this tactic to build relationships with your prospects, you run into a problem.
Consider this: you send such messages on the same day when potentially dozens or maybe even hundreds of other people do it too.
Do you think your message will be noticed by the recipient when they receive 300 more just like yours? Of course, they won’t! You need to focus on the actions that will help you stand out.
If you have a network of 2,500, 5,000 or even 10,000 people, the key is to focus on the specific people (ideally your perfect prospects) with whom you want to establish relationships.
I suggest choosing a targeted list of 10, 50 or 100 prospects (depending on how much time you have) with whom you really want to engage.
A couple of times a week, look at what they share on LinkedIn.
Instead of just clicking like, you can now add different reactions, such as celebrate, love, insightful and curious. These stand out more since fewer people use them. Instead of a regular “someone liked your post” notification, the recipient will see “[YOUR NAME] loved your post.” Better yet, they will see the light bulb or heart associated with your reaction, making it memorable.
Next, engage with your prospects’ posts by leaving comments when appropriate.
If your LinkedIn contacts publish something great, in addition to leaving them a public comment, send them a thoughtful follow-up note saying, “I really liked/appreciated that post you did on [TOPIC].” This note might start a dialogue with your lead, strengthening your relationship with them.
Another effective engagement strategy is to pay attention to the content your LinkedIn contacts are engaging with and commenting on.
To see what they’re commenting on, go to their Articles & activities section, and click on All activity. It’ll give you important insights into what type of content they’re interested in.
Obviously, this won’t work for all your contacts because some may not be very active on LinkedIn.
In fact, many people don’t even post on LinkedIn. With these LinkedIn contacts, you’ll be limited to a much more direct and personalized outreach. It’s not a bad limitation because this particular strategy will produce the best results compared to any other.
LinkedIn ninja trick
The most effective way to generate business from LinkedIn is to employ a direct outreach strategy, enhanced by a dialogue with your LinkedIn contacts.
To learn all the steps of this strategy, read the article I wrote on the five steps to move a cold LinkedIn contact into an offline conversation. It’s offline you really get to know someone and their challenges and, when appropriate, offer a solution to their challenge.
2. Gather intelligence for conversation starters
There is no better way to learn about your prospects than to research them online, paying attention to what they engage with on the Internet. This will provide you with valuable insights into what is important to them on a wider scale than LinkedIn.
A good way to learn more about your LinkedIn contact, as both a person and business, is to google them.
Start by googling their business. On the first page of the search results, you will generally find the website and the social media channels tied to the business you are researching. Spend a little time going through these sources of information to get familiar with the products or services the business offers, its ideal clients, and the language it uses. You can often discover the key challenges and needs of the company through such research.
Next, google the individual by their name.
Often, the search will return all their social media profiles as well as any mentions of them on websites or videos. Use these sources of information to learn more about them personally, looking for commonalities you might share with them as well as what is important to them right now.
In some cases, if they are an influencer, author or leader of a well-known brand, they may also have a Wikipedia page, which can have helpful professional info about them.
You can use the intelligence you gather to spark more meaningful conversations with them, whether it’s via sending direct messages on LinkedIn or responding to their content and comments.
It’s also helpful to look at what they share on other social media channels. Often, people share information of a more personal nature on Facebook and Instagram than they do on LinkedIn.
3. Add value to your LinkedIn contacts
It is important to provide value in your messages to your LinkedIn contacts as part of the relationship-building process.
To ensure you are actually providing value and not just inundating them with links, images or videos of content they will have no interest in (essentially spamming them), research their industry. When you come across something that might be helpful for their business – whether you find it in the news, an industry publication, or a high-profile blog – you can share it with them in a personalized message.
Only share information that’s highly relevant to them and their specific business.
The exception to this rule would be if you come across something specific to their role. For example, if their job involves business development, you could share with them a resource that’s not industry specific but still beneficial to them in their business development or sales activities.
Let me give you an example.
If you saw I shared an article on how to write lead generation messages on LinkedIn, you might say to your LinkedIn contact:
Hi <Name>, I know you are responsible for business development. I came across an article by a LinkedIn expert Melonie Dodaro I thought you may want to read. It’s about how to write lead generation messages that get a response on LinkedIn. I’ve noticed you are fairly active on LinkedIn and thought you might find it helpful. Would you like me to share the link with you?
Essentially, you want to take advantage of any opportunity you have to start a conversation with them while also adding value to them.
4. Become a go-giver on LinkedIn
The more you get to know your LinkedIn contacts, the stronger your relationships with them will be. To strengthen your relationships even further, play a matchmaker when appropriate. In other words, go into relationship building with your LinkedIn contacts with a go-giver mindset.
While expanding your network, you’ll come across people who could benefit from meeting each other. Can you find two such people in your network? Can you introduce them to each other?
For example, you could introduce one of your LinkedIn contacts to someone who runs a podcast because they could be a great guest. Or maybe you can introduce someone to a conference organizer as a potential speaker for their event. Or perhaps one of your connections could be a potential client or vendor for one of your other contacts on LinkedIn.
When you see these kinds of potential matches in your network, don’t be shy to play the business matchmaker. Your willingness to connect people can help create strong relationships with them while establishing tremendous good will and potentially trigger reciprocity. When they meet someone you might benefit from knowing, they may be inclined to make that introduction for you.
5. Share high-quality, relevant content on LinkedIn
In the noisy world of social media, one of the most important things you need to do is become ubiquitous – you want people to see you everywhere.
Now, I’m not suggesting you spend countless hours on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, especially if that is not where your ideal clients are. But I do suggest that at least on LinkedIn, you increase your visibility to your target market by consistently sharing relevant to them content.
There is no better way to showcase your expertise and position yourself as an authority than creating and publishing valuable content that solves a challenge for your ideal clients.
The content you create for your blog can take many forms. It can be written, audio, video or graphic. Whatever type of content you create, the key is to be consistent.
By consistently sharing high-quality content, you will help your LinkedIn network to become familiar with you. Over time, they will come to know, like and trust you – the all-important factor in increasing your sales capacity!
Show interest in your LinkedIn contacts
Ultimately, building relationships with your LinkedIn contacts is the same as building relationships with people face to face. You need to be invested and interested in learning about them.
This means getting to know them while personalizing every interaction you have with them. The moment they feel like just another nameless prospect to you, you will lose any trust you established.
Use these five strategies to help you get to know and build strong, fruitful relationships with your LinkedIn contacts, benefitting both them and you.
If you found this helpful, I share additional strategies on how to build relationships with your LinkedIn contacts that ultimately turn them into clients in my book LinkedIn Unlocked. If you’d like a proven lead generation system to attract new clients using LinkedIn, you can pick up a copy here.