We all know that LinkedIn is all about connection. But there is a big difference between superficial connection and deep connection – which is how power-users use the platform.
Although LinkedIn is a digital platform, in many ways the best way to approach it is as if it was a real-world networking opportunity. Think about how people like to be treated when you engage with them in everyday life and you can’t go far wrong when crafting your LinkedIn strategy.
In the real world of business professionals, if you take the time to let people know that their efforts are appreciated, comment upon their work and keep in touch with them, they will tend to reciprocate in turn and strong and lasting relationships will then be formed. The same applies on LinkedIn.
To help you to better make use of this approach we have written a short check-list of tips which you can use to ensure that your strategy is optimised to build lasting professional relationships on the platform.
1. Keep The Conversation Going
As the number of your LinkedIn connections grows it can become increasingly difficult to keep track of all the ongoing interactions you have across the platform. However it is vital that you tend to any important conversations that you are a part of on the site. Nothing will sour a promising professional relationship more than giving a connection the feeling that they are being undervalued or ignored. If you are taking part in an ongoing discussion with a connection make sure that you check-in on it, periodically, to ensure that you are not leaving their comments without a reply for too long.
This doesn’t stop at just responding in good time to new comments or messages, however. Make sure that you engage actively with the conversation, instead of passively, by replying to your connections comments with considered and genuine comments of your own. This will certainly be noticed and will help to motivate them to continue their engagement with you, building up a strong professional relationship over time.
2. Show Your Appreciation
When someone has taken the time to painstakingly craft and then post their own content to LinkedIn the worst thing for them is.to see that it is underappreciated by their wider network. By putting themselves out there they are actively demonstrating that they desire further engagement on the platform but they are also creating a fantastic opportunity for you to build upon your existing relationship with them.
As mentioned above, you should always try to demonstrate personal care and attention when interacting with your key connections on LinkedIn. At the most basic level this means trying to come up with your own unique comments instead of using LinkedIn’s prewritten suggested comments (although this is still better than nothing!). The more you can genuinely engage with the content your connection has posted, the better their response is likely to be and the higher the chance that you will set the foundations for a fruitful professional relationship into the future.
3. Contribute To Your Network
Alongside nurturing your ongoing discussions and showing your appreciation for your network’s content, you should be trying to contribute value to your network in your own right.
There are a variety of ways you can do this. The best way, as always, is to post original thought-provoking content of your own. This is crucial when it comes to building up your profile as an individual with expertise in your chosen area. By sharing relevant professional content – or thoughtful and more personal pieces – on the network you are demonstrating your value as a subject-matter expert to your wider network This will lay the foundations of an ongoing professional relationship with other the readers across the site, as they go to you for quality, stimulating content and begin to view you as a thought-leader in your specific field.
However another effective, and less time-consuming way, to contribute is by sharing relevant news and third party content to your feed. Once again this is adding value to your wider professional network who will be interested in relevant developments and opinions in your mutual field of expertise.
4. Get to Know Your Connections
This is related to the first tip. As you engage in long-term conservations on the platform you will also, inevitably, get to know your connections. But you can also help to speed along this process by taking the time to check out their profile and read their key content in detail. By building an accurate understanding of your connections, you can help to keep the conversation going with them by gaining insights into any common interests and passions you might share.
Beyond this, you should be thinking of all your conversations with your key contacts as an ongoing learning process, where you are both getting to know each other as unique business professionals. Again the key here is to think about your engagements on the platform as simply an extension of the natural, developing professional relationships you might build in offline business networking environments.
5. Celebrate With Others
As in everyday life, users on LinkedIn like to feel that their key professional and personal milestones are celebrated by their acquaintances. Thankfully, LinkedIn makes it extremely easy to do this – at least for the most common milestones such as birthdays, new jobs etc – by reminding you via your notifications and suggesting comments you can leave. However it might be worth your while to craft a unique, personally tailored message – especially when it comes to your key connections. This will show your connection that you are keeping up with them as an individual on the platform and will set you apart from others in their network who just leave short, pre-written comments.
This also works the other way round as well! People will feel more connected with you if you let them in on the important developments in your professional and personal life. Make sure to let your network know of any key milestones that you think are worth sharing or commenting on and don’t be afraid to showcase your unique personality on the platform.
The five tips we have mentioned above should form part of any effective LinkedIn engagement strategy. You can, however, build even further upon this by taking the time to interact with your connections in any organic and natural way that feels right to you. The best way to make this work is simply to imagine that you are networking with someone at a real-life event and act accordingly. Remain professional and appropriate but make sure to also reach out like a real human being and watch as your LinkedIn relationships take-off!