Building meaningful relationships on LinkedIn is critical to making the most of this free/inexpensive lead generation opportunity. Here are a few tried-and-tested suggestions that can help you widen your social circle and improve your chance to make sales.

Make Connections, Not Sales

LinkedIn works best as a relationship-building platform, not a place to be a pushy sales person. You know the sort, they send you a friend request and then as soon as you accept, you’re bombarded with messages and added to email lists… if you are like me, this is the quickest way to lose that new connection.

Your first step is to create a great profile. In your profile, include all the places you have worked. Then you will have the chance to connect with colleagues old and new. You will also gain access to their wider circle of contacts. In addition, you have the opportunity, particularly through the reasonably priced paid service, to connect with other people who work in your niche or industry.

LinkedIn also includes paid lead generation services to help you connect with people who have already expressed an interest in your niche, but who you might not have had a chance to connect with.

Offer Real Value to Your Connections

People are very busy these days, and time is money. Offer real value in the form of quality content and useful information designed to make their lives easier. Position yourself as an expert or thought leader in your niche – someone who is in the know and therefore worth paying attention to.

In particular, if the person is not a direct connection you have worked with, be clear about who you are and why you want to link with them. Did you just meet them at the local Chamber of Commerce? Did a mutual acquaintance in the real world suggest you should link up? Create a little “elevator speech” of a few words about who you are and what you do, then customize the reason for connecting. Then track your success in growing your network.

Follow the Leaders

Following top people in your niche gives you the chance to interact with them. You will see the content they post, which should be useful, and keep your finger on the pulse of the most important trends. By engaging with the content through likes, shares and particularly comments, you can show what you know.

Each of your comments will have a link to your profile so people can learn more about you and decide whether or not you will be worth connecting with. Participating strategically is one of the easiest ways to connect with like-minded professionals and build real relationships.

Keep an Eye on “Competitors”

A lot of people try to connect with people they consider to be a competitor in their niche in order to keep an eye on them. But LinkedIn also gives you unprecedented opportunities to connect with them and perhaps even be able to collaborate.

Small business owners can’t possibly do everything themselves. Collaborating with people in your niche can help you grow your business through, for example, joint venture partnerships, collaborative content that both your sets of followers will love, and making sales and splitting the profits (for example, through mutually mailing offers to your email marketing lists).

Review their profile for information such as places, companies, education, experience, or interests in common and you should be able to connect with them for free. Otherwise, organize a “wish list” and then pay for a month of LinkedIn Premium to make the expense worthwhile.

Join Groups

Niche-related groups are a great way to connect with people interested in your niche. You will be more visible, so think helpful expert rather than spammy salesperson, and you should start to gain connections from people who want to work more closely with you.

Stay Connected

Use the apps and other tools available to stay in touch with your network.

Follow these tips to increase your network through LinkedIn.

Building Meaningful Relationships on LinkedIn
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