While everyone is busy posting pictures of their pets and catching up with friends over on Facebook, serious minded business professionals are turning to LinkedIn as a way of staying connected with associates. They are also discovering the benefits of utilizing LinkedIn to expand their own customer/client base. There was a time when dedicated salesmen would have to “work the phones” to generate new leads. Today’s internet savvy sales force knows how to work the social media networks. Here are some tips to help you use LinkedIn to get new clients.
1) Share the News
The worst thing that a potential new client or even a long time business associate should ask is, “What have you been up to lately?” If that happens then it’s clear you’re not using LinkedIn to its fullest extent. Whenever your business has a new product or venture you should post the details on LinkedIn. You can also send industry news that is relevant to your network or contacts. You can boost that announcement by adding a follow up direct message to your contacts asking for the time to catch up through a call or email.
2) Make the Connections
After you’ve established your own social circle of professional contacts on LinkedIn it’s time to go exploring. Spend some time every day reviewing who your contacts are connected to. Perhaps someone you once worked with are friends with a CEO you’d like to get in front of. Armed with this information you can ask for an introduction or use that connection as your “conversation starter” with the new contact. Either way, you’re expanding your reach which is what LinkedIn is all about.
3) Track Down Former Co-Workers
Over in Facebook everyone is digging up old acquaintances from as far back as kindergarten. You should be doing the same thing on LinkedIn but keep it focused on business. Take a trip down memory lane and go looking for former business associates or fellow college grads. Where are they working today? Would that be a valuable connection to make?
4) Ask for Introductions
Making a connection is easy but what if you want to gain access to a company where you have no network? You’re essentially making an old fashioned “cold call” reaching out to that company. Your network is the best bet to be introduced to someone within a company. Find out who knows who and ask for an introduction. The best thing about LinkedIn is that it allows you to see who is connected to whom. This doesn’t mean you make a contact and then go for the hard sale. Let that relationship build. (See hint #1!)
5) Join the GroupsEvery member of the LinkedIn community has the opportunity to join groups built around common interests. Here is where the community really comes to life through ongoing discussions. Those groups could all contain potential clients. Get involved but keep it professional. The best way to connect with strangers is to create your own LinkedIn group. Revolve the group around a particular industry/category and invite your peers to connect and share.