If you’re looking to make important business connections, LinkedIn is the premier social media platform to use.

You’ll find recruiters using LinkedIn to find job candidates; CEOs looking to grow their influence and build trust with buyers; and solopreneurs looking for freelancers to build their dream team.

In the world of business relationships, you just never know who you’ll meet that will possibly send you your most lucrative client, so growing your network steadily and consistently makes good business sense.

More than 30 million companies use LinkedIn for business. Not just because it’s the preeminent social network for recruiting and hiring top talent.

With more than 690 million members, more and more brands are using LinkedIn marketing to network, connect, and sell.

There are LinkedIn marketing tools available for every business size and type, from small to large and B2B to B2C.  In this 10 part series on LinkedIn for Business, I’ll explain to you how to use LinkedIn for business, equip you with the best tools, and help you get the most out of your LinkedIn marketing strategy.

However, if you think blasting LinkedIn users with connection requests is the way to go, put the brakes on your plans and rethink your strategy. Here’s some well-researched advice:

  1. Nobody likes a spammer. Logging in to your dashboard and sending out a blast of connection requests is not a good use of your time. And if you think blasting your current connections with your latest product, service, or event will make you instant friends, think again. These are typical forms of spamming which will lose you connections instead of gaining them.
  2. Don’t use people just for introductions. When someone accepts your connection, get to know that person and their company before asking for introductions to others in their network. People are very protective of their networks and will pick and choose whom they allow access. If they refer you to their connection, and that introduction or meeting doesn’t go well, then THEIR reputation is at stake. Building relationships goes two ways for this exact reason.
  3. Remember the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. Follow your simple common sense: If you don’t want to be bombarded with connection requests and product offers or offers to join teams and you don’t know the person asking, why would you do those same things to others? Connect with others who have a common interest or whose companies compliment yours. A personalized connection request makes a big difference, too.
  4. Allow time to build relationships and to build your network. Your network will NOT grow overnight, especially if you use spam tactics to connect with people. Think of networking as the “planting of seeds,” where you certainly talk about what you do and who you are but in a natural, organic, and authentic way instead of in sales mode. Over time your connections will remember what you do and if they like your style, they will readily refer people to you; but they need to know you better and that takes time.
  5. Provide value to others. One way to showcase your expertise to your LinkedIn connections is to share consistently. Write articles, participate in groups, ask questions, and share about your mission and why it’s important to you. Educate your followers about what you do or the problems you can solve. Done consistently, this type of sharing will keep you in people’s minds and you just never know when they will be ready to hire you or send you a referral.

 

Networking on LinkedIn really boils down to common sense: Act professionally so you portray your business in the best possible light and be authentic in your interactions. Your ideal clients will be drawn to you once they get to know you as a person instead of as a salesperson.

Are you still asking yourself, “What’s the point of LinkedIn?”

or “How do I use LinkedIn?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people assume the only use for LinkedIn is to look for a new job.

That may have been the case when the site launched in 2003, offering essentially an online version of your resume, but no longer. These days, people are using LinkedIn for business purposes like building relationships with like-minded professionals, staying up-to-date with industry trends and uncovering new leads who could become customers.

Make connections to find new, high-quality leads.

No one wants to hear a sales pitch on LinkedIn. But members do want to make connections, which can eventually lead to sales. Small business owners are using LinkedIn to find new leads and identify commonalities, allowing them to contact “warm” leads instead of making cold calls.

You might message a prospect, mentioning shared connections or interests, showing interest in their company and offering help. It’s called “social selling” and, according to LinkedIn, it’s working. Social selling leaders have 45 percent more sales opportunities per quarter.

Maximizing your connections can save you time and connect you with the right prospects for your business. So how do you do it? Stay Tuned, this is the subject of the next article.  Would you like to receive notice when the next article comes out, then subscribe to the LinkedIn for Business Series.