Networking digitally is one of the must-have action items for today’s entrepreneurs and professionals. The main reason is simple, to access prospective customers, business partners and perhaps investors. To me personally, LinkedIn offers something more powerful value other social networking channels do not provide – professional community. That is why, I spend more than 10 hours a day on LinkedIn as I see it very crucial in building up my business adventure. LinkedIn is the only platform that I can work on establishing, maintaining and nurturing professional bonding as well as showcasing my skills, experiences, accomplishments, success and failure stories as well as publishing my thoughts to the right audience.
A business will be secured when I am at the right place, at the right time. I believe in this religiously. Thus, my time is worth spent on LinkedIn than any other place. I make sure my online presence here is consistent and aggressive. Elevator pitch has somehow become irrelevant with LinkedIn. Anyone can take their sweet time reading my professional profile summary or even sit down and study the entire profile of mine here.
Here are the steps I normally do to quietly convert my connections into tangible business leads. If you must know, so far the strategy has been working wonders.
Your LinkedIn profile must be different yet authentic. When I crafted my professional profile, first thing I do is not to follow what others are doing, saying or suggesting. To attract strangers, I need to be different, unique and use a different set of tone for the profile. I know that people love to be associated with exciting, vibrant and active professionals, rather than boring ones. So I make sure what I wrote in there is perfectly clear, precise and super easy to understand. Whilst on that, I want the audience to have just enough information of my professional background on LinkedIn. I crafted my profile details to have just enough, and not that full. I just want them to swing out of LinkedIn into my official website if they want to know more.
Attracting strangers is one story, getting them to connect to you is another. Again, playing with people’s mentality is very crucial. Building up something that could spark people’s trust in less than 15 seconds is not easy. I started off with my profile picture, making it look professional but not too professional. To make my profile look classy and evergreen, I made the image black-and-white. This casual-professional profile picture is to showcase that I am friendly and approachable. Then I carefully share my professional journey that is relevant to the audience, nothing more. I just give enough information, but not all. The way Apple market their brand really influences me a lot. I want to build curiosity that makes people want to know more. The publication section is crucial too. People need reasons why they must trust another human being, and LinkedIn’s publication section can handle that part pretty well. Luckily I am a columnist in a couple of publications and I listed all my published pieces on LinkedIn. Without blogging, I find it slightly hard for audience to get to know you and what’s in your head. People need to know whether you deserve their trustworthiness or otherwise. If you do not publish articles anywhere, start the journey at LinkedIn Pulse. It will help you build your community. For me, I need a quality community members who believes in me and my journey. I will tell you why.
Keep the connections close, and their connections closer. My LinkedIn timeline is far from clean. It’s a mess. Why, because I am very active in there. I publish articles, post cool ideas, like and comment on people’s status, reply on comments as well as actively engage with other commenters too. With this mess, I build a strong commanding presence on LinkedIn. There are connections who notice what I like, see my comments and observe what I write in their timeline. The best part is, when I publish a blog or post something cool and if they like or comment on it, their connections will see what I wrote or what I posted. Soon these 2nd level of connections begin to like or comment on my post. This is where I work my way in to engage with them and eventually acquire their trust to connect to me.
Multiple effects will happen along the way. In the end, these people will drop by to take a peek at my profile. The more engaging I am on LinkedIn, the more visits I will get for my profile view. Large number of profile visits will ensure more connections. This is the only method I know on how to build quality connections the right way. I need quality connections as my community if I wish to have strong streams of paid customers long term.
Know how to utilise the direct message feature. I use LinkedIn’s direct message with an extreme care. When I accepted an invitation to connect, or receive a notification that my request is accepted to be connected, I would send the person a thank you note. Just a simple note to express my sincere gratitude, and that is it. I don’t sell or pitch anything. With direct message also, a trust can be built this way. These connections will be reminded every single time when they visit my profile, LinkedIn has a section that display a direct message history to the user. And this will make them recall the direct message conversation he or she had with me way back during early days of communicating.
Be consistent to display your authority on the subject matter. When a human being wishes to offer his or her trust to another human being, the trust is given based on something specific. Example, when I mentioned many times in my profile that I am a content guy, own a few digital assets on content, share string of postings related to content, digital marketing and social media, my connections believe that I am the authority within the subject shared. I stay consistent on all my sharing. I stay consistent on all the articles that I wrote, I stay consistent on the practicality and simplicity of the subject, and I stay consistent in making them to notice where my expertise is.
Repeat and continue to repeat your message on 2 things: Fear of loss and promise to gain. I believe that people will respond to a post when they see a message that resonates to them. Normally the message will involve either a fear of loss or a promise to gain. So, normally I will use these to craft my post. Most of them are tell to sell stories. In these stories, the message is clear cut – Content is very critical in your marketing campaign, and it is very hard to do because you’re not in this line of business. We are. That is all. Instead of I push the sale via a selling statement, I get them to think about the message written. And this will repeated so many times week-in week-out. This way, I don’t sell but instead I make them buy.
Did your connections see the value in you? If my connections do not see any value in me, the rest of the journey will be very difficult. The trust cycle will be very challenging to complete. So the connections must see the value I am bringing to the table.
From an online connection to a real-life friend. Relationship evolves when there are communications. Similar to LinkedIn, daily conversation makes us friends. Words become less formal and more friendly. Then a coffee meet up happens. I believe there should be no other reason or purpose behind the meeting up except for a sincere friendship. There should be no selling, offering or even trying to propose something. I’ve met so many LinkedIn buddies of mine, and in the session I would never expect anything more than just a success feeling of having a new friend into my network of trust. As simple as that.
The business discussion will spark, sooner or later. I put a priority on building my professional relationships with each and every connection I have, and bring them offline. My objective is to make them all my friends in real life. Only at this stage the business leads acquisition will happen, naturally. I’m not the one who will spark it, but them.
Remember this. Building leads online takes a bit of a cycle, and this takes time. Business leads can only be generated when bonding and trust are already there. It will only happen naturally when you have your connections mobile number in your WhatsApp list and vice versa, and after a few coffee sessions.
Trust me, it will happen.