Provider Strategy

Making New Connections

The business of LinkedIn is building business. How can providers leverage this powerful tool?

Ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that matters”? Or “The Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules”? Well, if you add together the intent of both, you get the reason LinkedIn is one of the top networking sites for business professionals. It is essentially the social media site where professionals go to network their way from who they know now to who has the gold.

LinkedIn connects you to those already in your professional network. I hear you. You already have a relationship with these people so LinkedIn isn’t providing any additional value, right? Well, think about the people already in your professional network.

Consider all of them. When was the last time you sent each and every one of them a simple “how’s business going” email? Can you really say you are effectively maintaining those relationships? Here’s what I mean by effectively. Ever had someone in your network, who hasn’t connected with you in a very long time, reach out to ask you for an introduction? Whether that introduction is a big or small favor in your world, you’re going to weigh your options when it comes to trusting them enough to open the door.

Enter LinkedIn

Once you’ve completed your free profile, LinkedIn will ask if it can access your email contacts to request them to connect you. You can individually invite them, or let LinkedIn request them all to connect. If they are not on LinkedIn, it will ask them to join in order to connect with you.

Now that you’re “in” the site will notify you via email or smartphone when an event has occurred within your network so you can post responses, helpful information or encouragement when appropriate, all from one place. The ability to post a timely comment on their job change, promotion, or an article they composed, right from your computer or smartphone, means you now have the tools to effectively maintain your current expansive professional network as well as those you will add via LinkedIn to grow your business.

Take who you know, now add who they know. You no longer have to phone your “business acquaintance” to ask them for an in-person introduction only to get …Ugh, voice mail … Ugh, out of office … Ugh, out of the country. LinkedIn not only made it possible to bypass all of these communication roadblocks, and the tedium of the formal introductions, but went so far as to make this casual technology approach to introduction acceptable within today’s business culture.

Developing Connections

On top of to whom you can gain access, add the professional intel you can gather on them, you now have a means to exponential business growth, if used properly. Because LinkedIn developers have done a lot of things right, millions of professionals trust their site enough to provide their professional information for public consumption. This is why today, you can find just about anyone who is someone in the business world on LinkedIn.

In addition to their professional information which often includes the semblance of a resume, you can learn who they are via the groups they belong to, the university they attended and more. Plus, you can gain insight from simply watching their post content with topics ranging from general business commentary to acquisition announcements, job posting to hosted public events that you may want to plant to attend.

If someone is in your LinkedIn network, their connections become your 2nd connections. If you are connected to a number of the same contacts LinkedIn will tell you how many and ask if you want to send them an invitation. The site also notifies you when someone in your network makes a new connection and who that new connection is. If they would be a valuable contact in business, at the click of a button you can invite them to connect. Brilliant! What’s more brilliant? Because business professionals participating know how LinkedIn works, they expect some of their new connection’s network to reach out, this can serving to warm the call for you.

Also, there is something to be said for the advantages of being able to use LinkedIn on-the-go. Ever built your professional network via your smartphone while riding a train or lounging by the pool? You can with LinkedIn.

So how do you use these new found LinkedIn superpowers of connection? The most basic active use of LinkedIn, for the cost of free, would be the ability to search for the companies with which you want to do business. In locating the business you may find that you have someone on your network connected to someone who works there. With just a small amount of effort via LinkedIn, you can request they make your introduction.

When the connection happens, message your new contact privately for more information on who to approach and give them some benefit their company would experience by meeting with you. Keep in mind, you are now operating on the value of your connection’s professional currency and that’s golden, whether or not this contact opens the door.

A “Business-Only” Venue

Upon initial comparison, like other social media sites, there is some advertising. However, these ads make it possible for LinkedIn to offer the basic tools of the site free of charge, thus helping to build their participation. Unlike other social media sites, those participating understand LinkedIn is for use as a business tool.

The acceptable “business only” environment being established, participants thankfully refrain from posting pictures of or comments about, their dinner, gaming results or relationship status. LinkedIn cuts the personal noise and thereby has enticed millions of professionals to join and actively participate in a professional community conducive for maintaining and building the professional connections necessary for the growth of any business.

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Jennifer Heller is Division Manager of VGM Corporate Specialties, a division of VGM Group. Inc. VGM Corporate Specialties is a promotional product and corporate apparel distribution company that serves clients by pairing unique marketing strategies with promotional products to increase effectiveness and foster growth.

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