Connecting with Clients on LinkedIn
Social networks are a great way to connect with new clients. LinkedIn has over 400 million professionals looking for connections. You can use LinkedIn to build an online presence as well as a professional identity. Anyone who wants to extend their reach and connect with potential clients should be using LinkedIn to do it.
On LinkedIn, you are a person, first and foremost. When you signup, you create a free personal account and profile, which includes background and professional information relevant to your potential clients.
LinkedIn offers two types of accounts, free and paid. The main difference between the two is that the paid account does not limit the number or frequency of your actions, like the free account does. With a paid account, you can join more groups, send more messages (InMail) and introductions, view more profile information, see everyone who has viewed your profile, and check references, among other things. Most people begin with a free account and only upgrade if the need arises.
Whether you have a free or paid account, your profile is the foundation you build on. Let’s go over the parts of a profile so that you can have your information and details ready to add to each section. It’s important to include as much information as possible.
LinkedIn has set up each personal profile to include information that is similar to a resume. Here, you can include links, images, videos, slide shows, and more. Most of these sections can be repositioned to your liking; however, the headshot is always the first section.
- Headshot – You’ll need a professional looking profile photo. You should stick to the professional images that real estate agents are known for, in order to get the best results. But don’t worry; you don’t have to spend a lot of money for this. Just get someone to take a high-resolution, high-quality headshot or torso shot.
- Profile Headline – Look at profiles. You can see a headline area under each member’s name. In this area, write a headline that identifies and describes you. This helps others to find you, even if they don’t know you on a personal level…yet.
- Summary – This area should include a well-written summary of your experience, education, and knowledge. Consider using bullet points for easy readability. Use power words to grab attention and include keywords. Keep it professional. Your authority, credibility, and reputation are at stake.
- Professional Experience – Here, enter in each job you’ve had, or if you’re a business owner you can create one job and put all the various things you’ve accomplished in the list. This part is important because if you worked on a specific project and you want a reference, it’s a good idea to list them separately. This allows the people you worked with to link their references to that particular project or task.
- Skills & Endorsements – In this area, check off everything you have experience with including software programs and more. Your connections can then endorse anything that you’ve said you can do in order to validate your experience.
- Education – This area is where you should include any education you’ve received. Even if you didn’t finish your course of study, include it so that you can connect with fellow alumni. If you received some type of recognition or excelled at something, include the specifics.
- Recommendations – This area is where people can recommend you. LinkedIn provides an easy way to request recommendations from people you’ve worked with and are connected to. Send personalized, individual requests for the best results. Mass messages tend to be frowned upon by those who receive them and are less likely to take the action you’d prefer.
- Groups – Any groups you join will show up in this section. You don’t have to do anything but join. However, try to keep the first 8 to 10 groups related to your target audience or business philosophy/ethics.
- Add Media – You’ll notice that under Summary and some other jobs, you’ll be allowed to add a document, photo, link, video, or presentation. This is a great way to introduce yourself and help viewers get to know you.
- Publications – If you’ve written any books or published works, you can list and link to them in this area. This is a wonderful way to show your professionalism. Plus, you might sell a few books.
LinkedIn constantly improves the profile area. Whenever there is a change, take note of it and make use of the improved or added functionality. The more areas you complete the more likely you are to make meaningful connections.
Once you build a solid foundation with your completed personal profile and network by sharing updates, it may be time to add a company page. Let’s go over the areas and options associated with a company page.
A Company Page allows you to focus on your business in-depth with 4 main sections – home, careers, analytics, and notifications. It is a great option for business owners. You can promote the page in different ways and look at page stats. You can list your products or services and give updates through LinkedIn from your blog. As long as you have a business name, and a business email address you can create your company page.
- Overview – This is where you’ll add your company name and a company description. Think very hard about the description. You can use up to 2000 characters. If you’re not sure how to write a company profile, you can hire a copywriter to help you get the wording right.
- Designated Admins – You can add LinkedIn connections as admins for your page. This helps you create a like-minded team of experts while the connections and exposure helps everyone involved.
- Direct Sponsored Content Posters – If anyone you’re connected to wants to post content on your behalf, you can list them here.
- Image – This is like a banner or cover image. You need to upload the image at the right size for this area.
- Logo – If you have a business logo, add it here. You want your business or company logo to be simple, original, versatile, and easily recognizable.
- Company Specialties – This is the area to make your experience shine so you can get noticed. Include specialties for anything that you do, even if you’re not doing it as a main source of income, unless you’re not interested in doing it anymore.
- Featured Group – If you created a LinkedIn group or you are an admin for another group, you can add up to three groups to this page with the free account.
- Engagement – You can share updates by linking to a blog post or video. The content you share here will be shared with your followers on their feed.
- Analytics – This important area allows you to check how your content is performing and how you’re building relationships.
- Today’s Social Actions – This area of your company page shows the actions you’ve done today to make an impact and connect to others. In addition, if your company is mentioned by anyone it will show up here.
With a company page, you can also create career pages to help potential employees get info about your brand, see small business resources, or showcase a page for just one product, service, or brand.
Whether you are just getting started on LinkedIn or you are renewing your focus, you want to take advantage of the opportunities available to you. While we mentioned the company page previously, many people just use their profiles and the basic account options. For this reason, we will focus on connecting using the basic account and options.
Many of the tips and strategies can also be applied to a company page, as is. However, some may need a slight adjustment to be more effective.
Making Your LinkedIn Profile Work for You
There are a few best practices that you should be aware of when creating a LinkedIn profile. If you pay attention to what you’re doing, LinkedIn can be very lucrative for you when it comes to finding new clients and maintaining relationships with current ones.
- Know Your Why – If you don’t know why you’re starting the profile, then you should not do it yet. But if you know that you want to attract your specific audience and why, then go for it. If you don’t know your purpose, it can be hard to stay focused.
- Post a Professional Photo – This was mentioned before, but let’s be extra clear about photos. You need a real head shot that is your face and head. Don’t get creative with headshots and assume it’s going to stay up there at least six months to a year or more.
- Don’t Let Contact Info Get Out of Date – It can be easy to create a profile and forget about it, but it’s important not to do that if you want to get the most out of LinkedIn. If your contact info isn’t updated, they can’t contact you.
- Spend Extra Time on the Summary – Even though you want your audience to look at your entire profile many will not get past the summary. Therefore, spend extra time and focus on the summary portion to ensure that you attract your audience to you.
- Customize Your URL – Under your headline and image there is an area with a URL that you can give to people to send them to your LinkedIn profile. You can customize this URL. Use your name when possible. Keep it professional.
- Publish Content Regularly – When you first sign into LinkedIn, you can share an update, upload a photo, or publish a post. You want to publish a post regularly. You can do it monthly or weekly (or even daily if you want to). This will help you get information to the people you’re connected with and they might share it with their connections too. Do not replace your normal blog with this feature and only post original content.
- Ask for Recommendations – Once you have all your work experience and education listed, you can start asking for recommendations. Don’t be shy. When you do ask people to recommend you, take the time to write a personal message. Remind them about what you did for them and ask for a recommendation. It’ll be added automatically to your profile after you read it and approve it.
- Be Thoughtful with Your Updates – When you share an update with LinkedIn it should be extraordinarily relevant. Also, most LinkedIn users who are successful with LinkedIn don’t share updates daily, but most definitely do not share updates more than once a day.
- Project a Professional Attitude – When you’re posting up dates, commenting in groups, and participating in other activities on LinkedIn, keep your professional hat on. LinkedIn is not the place to share what your kids or cat did or anything personal in nature, unless it is directly linked to a business aspect. It’s all business, all the time.
- Don’t Connect With Everyone – When you’re on LinkedIn, you may get connection requests from people you do not know. Look at their profile and determine if there is any real reason to connect with them. Are they part of your target audience? Can they connect you with someone who is important? What value do they add?
It’s important to remember that LinkedIn is not like other social media networks. LinkedIn is a place for professionals. When someone tries to connect using the wrong tone or strategy, it can cause businesses to lose followers and credibility. So, keep it professional at all times.
One feature of LinkedIn is the ability to join and create groups. As with your profile, use “best practice” strategies that make using groups worthwhile. Many groups either have little activity or too much activity. So, make sure you participate in an appropriate manner.
- Share Your Content Carefully – Some group owners do not want you to share your content with the group, unless you’re a regular. Other group owners don’t want you to share it at all. Be sure to read and follow the rules of the group. If you don’t, your account could be flagged for spam. Even if sharing your content is allowed, don’t share content without also participating in other ways. You are there to make connections. This means you should do more socializing than promoting.
- Engage With Others Frequently – The best way to stand out on LinkedIn is to comment on posts in an intelligent way. Read the entire discussion and add to it only if you can add some sort of value to the discussion. When you have information to offer that tis helpful people will value you for it and contact you on their own accord without you shoving it down their throats and practically begging for a job.
- Create Your Own Group – A great way to have more control over the group is to start your own. Create a mission statement and explain your vision for the group with a good key-worded description, summary, and image for the group. Create clear group guidelines, and only let people in the group if you’ve checked their profile.
The important thing to note with any interaction in groups is to know and understand your audience, create content for them, and remember to interact and engage in an intelligent and thoughtful way with others too. Remember, it’s all about building relationships, not spamming, not selling, simply build the relationships and connections, add value where you can, and soon your inbox will be full and your phone will ring.
When you first sign up, you’ll be given the opportunity to connect LinkedIn with your email addresses. You can enter your email in the system under My Network, Add Connections. You can also find Alumni and see “people you may know”. In addition, there are many ways to expand your connections on LinkedIn.
- Start Where You Are – Even if some of the connections you have right now are just your family and friends, that’s okay. Just start with what you have. As you are noticed, “found,” and recommended, your connections will grow accordingly.
- Send Invites – LinkedIn gives you the ability to invite people who are in your email contact list automatically. This is a good way to get started.
- Ask for Introductions – Ask existing connections to introduce you to potential clients. There is a way to do that via LinkedIn between connections. You and the person you’re being introduced to have to be 1st degree connections for this process to work. Avoid sending invites to people that you don’t know.
- Be More Active – Commit to be more active on LinkedIn. Most people actually don’t use LinkedIn to the capacity that it can be used. You want to at least sign on once a day and do something such as comment on a discussion in a group, start a new discussion in a group, post an update a few times a week and publish a post monthly. It’s up to you what schedule you use, but being more active, yet also valuable (don’t be active just to be active) you’ll end up getting more connections due to people liking what they see.
- Promote Your LinkedIn Page – Anyplace you can add your LinkedIn URL is a good place to add it, including your email signature. You want to invite people to connect with you on a regular basis. You can do this also within Facebook Groups, on a blog post, or in another manner as long as you know the person you’re connecting to in some way you’ll be able to build your connections. You don’t have to really know them, just know “of” them.
- Build Trust – Building relationships also involves building trust. Always do what you say you will do. Post accurate information and most importantly, be yourself. Fake just doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to build trust. You’ll get further, be happier, and make more connections when people like and trust the real you.
The most important thing to remember about LinkedIn is that it’s very professional and as long as you are honest, professional, keep an updated and filled out profile and are active on the network you’ll soon make a lot of connections.
Like most things for your business, everything is better with a plan. You’ve heard the saying that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It’s true. If you craft a plan before you get started about what you want to do with your LinkedIn network you’ll do a lot better and be more likely to reach your goals.
- Know Your Audience – Take some time to research your audience before you get started so that all the activity you do on LinkedIn will resonate with your audience. After all, even when it comes to your profile and your actions on LinkedIn, it’s all about your audience.
- Become a Thought Leader – The way to become a thought leader is to be published, get interviewed, comment intelligently on issues, go to live events and then share all that with your connections on LinkedIn.
- Publish on LinkedIn – While you do still want to publish mostly on your own property such as your website, blog, courses and books you still want to publish on LinkedIn because a high portion of your audience will see what you published.
- Share Your Blog Updates – When you post a blog (or even a book) always share it with your audience on LinkedIn. Write a blog post about it, and then share that with LinkedIn in the form of an update. People will then click through to read your blog and they’ll know that you’re very active in your industry.
- Participate in Groups – LinkedIn has a lot of groups, and you can even start your own. The best type of group to join is one that consists of your target audience not the people who do what you do. The best type of group to start is also one that will attract your audience, not one that will attract people just like you. You want to network with potential customers more than you network with your competition although that has merit too.
- Keep Your Profile Active – Try to keep your profile updated and active as much as possible without spamming. Don’t place updates more than a few times a week, but you can do other things such as posting an image, or publishing a post or updating something about your profile.
The very most important and useful thing you can do to make LinkedIn work best for you is to ensure that you are providing value to your audience in every possible way. The truth is, the more giving you are of yourself, the more people will seek you out and want to connect with you and work with you.
In some ways, communicating on LinkedIn is confusing. For one thing, if you don’t upgrade your account it seems as if you cannot send InMail messages. But, you can. The way you do it is that you have to be a member of the same group and send them a message through that group privately. Go to the group, click members, find the member’s profile, go to it, and then find “send message” and click it.
- Don’t Spam — It’s very important to realize that if you’re going to send InMail messages that you do not want to send spam to people. It’s best to focus on relationship building. Reach out to them by finding an article you wrote to share with them, or something someone else wrong to share with them, that you think they’ll enjoy.
- Pay Attention — But first, show them that you have paid attention to what they say by commenting on their updates, group posts, and even off LinkedIn on their blog posts, other social media and more. This will set the stage for you to be able to contact them in a manner that they’ll actually read because they will recognize your name and realize you’re not spamming them.
- Make it Personal — Make your messages personal. Word your messages as though you were talking to a friend, directly. You want to build relationships so try asking for the reader’s help or offering a free item. Remember you want to create a relationship building message not turn them off.
You can do that by focusing on how you can add value to their business and their lives. When you focus on what your audience needs, and not on what you need (a new client, a sale, money, money, money) you’ll succeed at getting exactly what you really want.
Join and Participate in Groups
Join several groups that look like they might consist of your target audience. Monitor and participate in the groups daily. Find out what the group talks about. Make note of what their problems are. After a month, if you don’t see people, who fit your target market, leave the group and join another.
Post Comments on Group Discussions
When people do post something that is useful attempt to engage them by making a comment about the post. Try to be positive, but you can also be real and call them out on the post if it’s something you feel strongly about and will advance your position as an authority on the topic.
Post Discussion Starters in Groups
Before leaving any group, try to post a discussion starter in the group. Make sure it’s not a sales post, or just a link to an article. Post a real question, or answer a real question in a new post that someone else in that audience asked or could potentially ask. When people respond, be sure to comment back.
Accept Connections but Pay Attention
The more people you connect to the better, but you do want your connections to be useful for you. As you become more active on LinkedIn, you’ll notice people seek out a connection with you and you may find that some of them are indeed spammers. It’s okay, you can delete and even block the connection should that happen.
Start Asking for Recommendations
Every day, until you’ve asked every connection you’ve worked with send out a personal request for a recommendation. The recommendations on LinkedIn, due to the way they’re collected are highly coveted and sought after. The right words will make all the difference. Remember to send a personal note asking for the recommendation with a reminder of what you did with or for them to help them choose their words.
Finally, update your profile regularly with an update, an image, or a post. In addition, keep the rest of your profile fresh and polished. As LinkedIn adds more features, you can add more to your profile. You’ll be happy you did because LinkedIn is a great place to connect with existing clients and find potential clients.