Connecting with potential clients on LinkedIn is fantastic but it is really only the start when it comes to building fruitful, long-term relationships on the platform. There is a real temptation to focus on simply stacking-up connections without bothering to nurture and work on them afterward.
Without effective engagement, you are missing out on many potential opportunities that come with building quality professional relationships on LinkedIn. Engagement with your contacts allows you to give them more information about who you are and what you’re all about: setting yourself apart from your competition. This is a two-way relationship. Just as your connections are learning more you, you are also building a better picture of them, which can often prove invaluable in the future by paving the way for mutual collaboration and gain.
As the LinkedIn user base is growing daily, users can often find themselves flooded with connection requests and new contacts without feeling like they are really engaging with many of them in any meaningful fashion. This leads them to value their more organic relationships on the platform even more.
Why not make use of this fact to build genuinely interesting and productive relationships that will help to drive your success on – and off – the platform?
In this article we’re going to look at five tactics you can use to nurture your LinkedIn relationships in the most effective, organic way possible to help you to build a high-quality network of engaged professionals.
1. Do Some Digging
If you really want to get someone’s attention, show them you have done your homework. Before engaging with any new contacts, make sure to have a thorough look at their profile. Take note of things they wish to draw attention to and try and determine what their particular specialty and areas of expertise might be.
After this initial survey, you can learn more by googling your new contact and having a look at any business websites or other online profiles that come up. This will help you to really get a ‘feel’ for your new contacts personality and business and will help you decide how best to engage with them in order to build a strong and lasting relationship.
We all enjoy having things in common with other people – so take a minute to look at what kind of things your new contact tends to engage with on LinkedIn and see if there is anything you also find interesting. (Pro Tip: don’t do this too frequently, it could come across as extremely creepy!)
Above all, try to find a good ‘lead-in’ for any initial conversations that will let your new contact know that you have some insight into who they are and what they do.
2. Stand out from the crowd with Deep Engagement
LinkedIn provides a variety of ways to engage with your contacts. Many of these require very little effort – as the platform is trying to make it as easy as possible for users to engage. These can be an excellent way of maintaining a low level of engagement with your connections, but they also lack the sort of depth and commitment that is necessary to really make an impact (after all your connections are also aware of how easy it is to send one of LinkedIn’s suggested pre-written responses or emoji as well!)
As part of your general engagement on the platform, there is nothing wrong with using the built-in prompts (‘happy birthday’, ‘congratulations’ etc.) However, if you really want to set yourself apart from other users and make your contacts value you there is no substitute for genuine comment and discussion.
A large part of your strategy on the platform in general should be to present yourself as a noteworthy individual to your contacts. Across social media platforms in general, as they have scaled-up massively in recent years, there has been a tendency for users to build up more and more contacts with people that they have less and less actual of an actual relationship with. These contacts increasingly become simply a number for many users: a mass of virtually unknown people – the majority of whom, perhaps, we never engage with at all.
Your goal should be to distinguish yourself from these other, more anonymous contacts by making the effort to actively engage with the content others post on LinkedIn and letting them know that you appreciate their efforts.
When you have the time, make sure to contribute to ongoing discussions or let your key contacts know that you appreciate and value their content. This is especially true if you actually have something unique or interesting to say or are personally interested in the content that has been posted.
This can obviously be quite a time-consuming affair and so it is advisable to choose the contacts you wish to engage with in this way with care. Consider building a concise list of contacts that you think you most want to engage in-depth with and focus most of your efforts on these. Those individuals who you do particularly want to impress and build a relationship with will certainly appreciate the effort!
3. Capture them with Content
The flip-side of engaging with your connections by commenting on their posts and articles is posting compelling, high-quality content of your own. The two tactics obviously work together as by commenting on the posts and articles of your key contacts you will encourage them to return the favor by engaging with yours and they will be keener to do this if your content is as appealing and interesting as possible.
Your whole aim, when crafting your LinkedIn strategy should be to set yourself apart as an individual who has something unique to say or some special value that you, alone, can provide to your connections.
By posting well-thought-out content you are establishing yourself as an authority in your chosen field and building up your credibility in the process. Use the opportunity that LinkedIn offers to freely showcase your talents and expertise to the world!
This will act as an advertisement for you and will attract potential clients to the services you offer as well. Credibility is the name of the game nowadays and one of the best ways of proving this is to craft content that demonstrates your expertise and professionalism to prospective clients.
If you have connected with people who work within a similar niche then your content can also act as a sort of free product for them, providing literal value by sharing your knowledge and opinions without any charge!
Even if you are connected with a lot of people who do not work in your industry it is still possible to craft content that will be useful and interesting to many of them.
For example, you can write articles on general business practices, societal trends, or even your own personal experiences that will be of interest to people far beyond your area of professional expertise.
Try to drive interest by making sure that all the content you share is written in clear and concise English and steer clear of anything that is likely to be too controversial (i.e. politics, religion, etc.)
This may take some practice but, over time, you can really develop a unique ‘voice’ on the platform that will help to enhance your overall image and build engagement with your key contacts.
Make sure that your content is concise, well-written, and presented in an attractive format (including images, for example, can be a great way to break your content up and draw people’s attention to it).
As with all the other tactics mentioned in this article, don’t let content-creation suck up too much of your time and energy but make sure that it still forms a central plank of your overall engagement strategy.
4. Add value to others
As we mentioned earlier, a key part of your engagement strategy should be aimed at setting yourself apart from people’s other connections on LinkedIn by making full use of the platform’s many capabilities and features. By enabling you to share links, LinkedIn allows you to demonstrate your value to your key contacts by highlighting useful and interesting content that you find on the site and elsewhere on the web.
By researching your connections’ particular interests (see tactic one) you can make yourself aware of the kind of content (links, videos), etc. that will be useful and valuable to them. By making a mental (or physical) note of this you can then make sure to share any content you find that might be useful to them.
You might find this content in a wide range of places – from industry blogs, to news organizations, to social media. However ask yourself whether what you are going to share it is really something that your connections might be interested in before sharing it: after all, your aim in doing so is to build up your image of a clued-up and professional individual who knows exactly what will be most relevant and interesting to your connections.
To add extra impact make sure to craft a brief, to the point message explaining to your connection why you have chosen to share the particular piece of content with them. This will help to solidify your image and to demonstrate to your connection that you really have put the highest level of thought into your decision to share it with them.
5. Make Introductions
The main draw of platforms like LinkedIn is, undoubtedly, the ability to connect with like-minded individuals from all around the world. As we have stressed throughout this article, however, too many people do not use this to its full potential. One of the best ways that you can leverage this core functionality to help bolster your personal and/or business brand is to help other people in your network to connect with relevant high-quality individuals with whom you are also connected on the platform.
As with most of the other tips we have given to help you to build a fantastic engagement strategy, the aim here is to make your engagement with people as organic and real-world as possible. This will help your key connections to view you as an authoritative and extraordinary individual instead of just one amongst hundreds (or thousands) of anonymous connections. This tactic will also help you to further prove your value to your connections by helping them to grow their own professional network on LinkedIn and will demonstrate that you are connected with interesting and competent people.
Always make sure that you do your research before making introductions between your connections: this tactic works best if you can help to facilitate genuinely productive and fruitful connections for others in your network.
The more engaged you are with your key connections the easier this will be. If you really take the time to get to know their interests, professional needs, and personalities you will soon be able to see which of your other connections might be a good professional ‘fit’ with them.
Finally, don’t worry about making suggestions that are a bit outside of your key contacts’ main area of expertise as long as you think that they are going to find the person you are recommending interesting or valuable. In fact, by suggesting connections that are not immediately obvious you will be showing that you have really been paying attention to your key contact and have learned what their interests and needs are. This will demonstrate that your professional relationship with them is more than just superficial and show them that you have excellent insight and judgment.
Hopefully, these five tips have given you a solid basis to begin to construct a highly effective engagement strategy on LinkedIn. We could boil everything we have said down to this one sentence: provide value to your connections, show them that you are taking the relationship seriously, and demonstrate your skills and expertise at the same time.
LinkedIn is a platform that makes it easier than ever before to contact professionals from all across the world. But if we don’t take the time to make these connections (or at least the key ones) as organic and human as possible they will remain little more than numbers on a screen.
So, make sure to leverage LinkedIn’s capacity for engagement to its full capacity instead of simply ‘collecting connections’ and start building a truly active and productive network today!