September 10, 2015
Relationships are the keys to success. We have all heard the saying that, “It’s not who you are, it’s who you know”. While this statement isn’t always true, it’s an inarguable reality in the dynamic world of business in a capitalistic society. People rarely, if ever, achieve great levels of success all on their own; along the way there have been a great number of contributors. And in today’s digital word, LinkedIn is the premier platform for building these vital connections and lifelines.
This particular social network has connected a countless number of business professionals so that new ideas can be brought to life. That is LinkedIn’s entire purpose; to connect and foster business relationships. And with more than 350 million members, the possibilities are literally endless. But how does one establish a deep connection that will be mutually beneficial and prosperous for all parties?
By investing time, energy, and resources into connections so that a relationship can bloom. Such a bond cannot be developed without dedicated and consistent work. It requires finding a delicate balance of give-and-take that will be favorable for all.
No matter if you are looking to grow your brand, or just on the hunt for your next potential project, here are 5 ways to make meaningful connections on LinkedIn and turn them into full-blown business relationships:
1. Be Authentic
Sounds obvious, right? But how many people do you know that don’t really come across authentically? Relationships are built on trust, and if you prove to not be trustworthy through the use of an online “persona”, the connection is doomed to be a failure.
Simply promote yourself as the authentic being that you are and find companies and individuals that seem to be a natural fit for you. If the connection you are looking to make feels like a genuine match for your skills and knowledge, communication will flow easily and more commonalities will be uncovered. By being authentic, you accelerate the possibility of spawning a great business relationship.
2. Thank Connections by Providing Value
When others accept your invitation to connect, respond with a brief message thanking them. If you really want to begin to develop a rapport and build upon that connection, it is advisable to not only send them a “thank you” but also a link to a recent post you have written that pertains to their world. If you haven’t posted any material that would be helpful, a link to another author’s content that can be of use to that individual is completely acceptable as well. Just do be sure that the link you send isn’t from the connection’s direct competition, but rather a poster with a similar target audience.
By providing value to a connection from the get-go, you show not only your desire to help, but that you are genuinely interested in that person or organization’s well-being. Additionally, it is always a great stepping stone to a strong relationship to offer something before asking for something.
3. Utilize the “Relationship” Tab
On each of your connections’ profile pages, there is a “relationship” tab that is highly beneficial when put to use. As you and your new connection begin to communicate, it is advisable to take notes on things you have in common, business problems he or she may face, personal information like a child’s name, or anything else that you may find useful.
By placing this information in the notes section of the relationship tab, you can reference the material in later conversations to demonstrate that you not only are listening to what is being said, but that you are also interested and invested in this connection. Putting this kind of time and effort into building a true connection will ultimately be rewarded down the road.
4. Always Follow Through
Follow-through is a foundational aspect to any relationship no matter if it is business or personal. If you told your connection that you were going to send a piece of content, connect him with someone in your network, or anything else, be sure to do whatever it is that you said you would. People often don’t have use for connections that cannot follow up on their words with actions. If you need to write a note as a reminder, that’s fine, just always be sure to keep yourself honest and on the ball.
5. Take Your Relationship beyond LinkedIn
While LinkedIn is a fantastic place to start a business relationship, it should not reside there solely. If it never leaves the platform, the relationship’s potential for growth is significantly stunted.
If you really want your relationship to flourish, it is essential that you connect outside of LinkedIn. Send your connection a message asking if you can meet up for coffee and a brainstorming session. If it is not possible to meet in person, skype, phone, or apps like GoToMeeting are completely acceptable. If you do speak with people over the phone, a good idea is to look at their profile pictures before you do. This will gives you a sense of talking to them in person and the conversation will likely be much more fluid.
With all of this in mind, remember that at the end of the day we are all just people; and people want to connect with each other. Don’t overthink anything and just go with what feels right. As long as you are authentic, humble, and don’t try to use LinkedIn as a replacement for more personal forms of connection, the links you build in your network are sure to become strong business relationships that will provide a bounty of opportunities for all involved.
What are some of your favorite ways for building strong business relationships through LinkedIn? What do you feel is the easiest way to open the door for a genuine connection?
Digital producer, online marketer, community manager, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney-Brown has been managing cross-functional teams for online businesses since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, community management, social networks, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and spiritual counselor. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.