I have always loved networking and I’m rarely afraid to approach a stranger. Making connections with other people, whether it be in a business environment or a social situation is a huge motivator for me. My role as a business developer and sales person requires me to network constantly. My favorite social media tool to help me grow my network and find new opportunities to develop business relationships is LinkedIn, hands down!
Simply put: LinkedIn is networking on steroids.
- Eliminate the Cold Call: Before I make a call to a potential prospect, whether they were referred directly to me or on a list of companies I am targeting, I always start with LinkedIn. I look at not only their current information but where they may have experience in the past, and who they are already connected with. More often than not, there is a common connection. When I make the call, I now have something ‘warm’ to lead the conversation with. It helps to break the ice and show them I took the time to do my research on them or their company.
- Eliminate the worry you’ll lose your valuable contacts: LinkedIn is your rolodex that follows your contacts wherever they may go. Whether you have a sophisticated contact management system or a shoestring database, you can rely on LinkedIn to keep your contacts organized and up to date. You’ll even receive periodic updates from them with summaries of who has moved on to other companies or been promoted within.
- Eliminate location barriers: While I’d love to meet every prospect face to face, it’s just not feasible for me to drive all over the state knocking on doors trying find ideal clients. I would rather start by researching potential clients and find contacts online first, have the conversation to determine if there is a good fit to do business with each other, and then make the decision to meet in person. We are in a world where business is being conducted virtually every day. The potential to grow is literally without boundaries. If you aren’t prospecting online, your competitors are.
- Eliminate asking for referrals: LinkedIn has great mechanisms in place to help you get more referrals, even without you asking for them. Your contacts and followers can see who is recommending you and reasons why they loved doing business for you, and more likely than not they know someone who could use your services. I have been surprised by the referrals I have received through connections I’ve made months or years ago coming through the pipeline. It is also good practice for you to refer and recommend others to your connections. As the old saying goes, the more you give the more you are likely to receive in return.
- Eliminate Digging for Business Intelligence: If you have your profile completed, LinkedIn also feeds relevant content front and center on your profile page. Notice “Today’s Top Headlines Tailored for You” at the top of your profile. I am always receiving sales, recruiting, healthcare, and social media news because of my background and keywords I’ve linked to my personal profile. I am also following a number of companies and people in marketing and social media, so I can see what they are doing and what they are saying. Another great way to stay on top of your industry is to join LinkedIn Groups, follow and engage in relevant discussions. Read a previous blog on I wrote on engaging in groups here.
If you are in any type of sales or relationship development role, you absolutely must have a LinkedIn completed profile and discipline yourself to spend time on this social tool. I guarantee it will be time well spent!