When it comes to using social networking sites for your brand, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other such sites give you a great way to get the word out about your business, connect with fans and customers and build a brand personality, but part of being a business owner is connecting with others in your professional field, building your network and establishing your credibility. Even if your customers don’t see the person behind the brand, professional networking is a must-do for anyone who wants to see their brand grow.
LinkedIn is one of the most useful sites for that purpose. Built on the principle of connecting professionals, everything about this site is targeted toward helping you network with the right people.
This is where you make the connections that can get you the investors you’ve been looking for to help your start up, meet the people who can get your brand on TV, or find your new business partner.
But where do you start and how do you build those connections? Read on for a few great tips.
Start with a search
After you’ve connected with your personal connections, and people you’re either currently working with or have worked with in the past, go one step further and perform a search.
In the advanced search section you can look for people your connections already know. This way, not only can you find people of interest based on their field, location, title and education, but you also have an ‘in’ through a shared connection. You can either initiate a connection directly or ask your shared connection to make an introduction.
Similarly, if you want to search for professionals in a specific industry, you can type in relevant keywords and discover people you wouldn’t have come across otherwise. From there, you can check out their profile and learn a little more about them to decide if they’re someone you’d want to build a professional relationship with.
LinkedIn groups can help you find thought leaders that match your networking goals and allow you to engage in conversations to showcase your own talents, expertise and interest.
Joining an existing established group, as opposed to starting your own, is a quick way to get insight into what’s going on in the industry, as well as make it easier to find people who are already engaged and interested in the topic.
Take it offline
Meeting someone in person will always be one of the best networking practices out there. Don’t let all of your connections come from behind a screen – get out of the office to meet new people, even if they’re from the businesses on your own block. Then, when you’re back at work, reach out on LinkedIn to keep the relationship going.
One final thing to keep in mind is to focus on the quality of connections you’re making.
Start a conversation by saying hello, mention their work and why it’s of interest to you, and show them what having you in their network could be worth to them. The rest is about communicating, having conversations and building a solid, meaningful relationship over time.