Since its inception in May of 2003, LinkedIn has become a household name. The social media platform has become a thriving database of professionals and helped countless individuals make valuable connections that have catapulted their careers to new heights. In fact, according to Andrew Hutchinson with Social Media Today, as of October 3, 2020, LinkedIn had approximately 766 million users. Additionally, LinkedIn itself reported in the same month that 55 job applications are submitted every second through the platform. With so much traffic on the site, it’s not surprising many businesses wish to learn how to do organic LinkedIn relationship building to find their potential buyers and clients.
While social selling is certainly another acceptable use of LinkedIn, it’s important to recognize that it’s not why it was created. And building credibility and strong relationships is the only way to fortify a strong foundation on LinkedIn. In other words, be the authority in your niche by adding value and you’re sure to find success. Ready to learn more?
Some Fun Facts About LinkedIn
Before we dive into how to go about organically building strong relationships on LinkedIn, it’s important to understand the true reach and value LinkedIn offers.
- 24% of millennials (who by the year 2025 are expected to make up 75% of the global workforce, according to a study done by Purdue University, are currently using LinkedIn. (Digital 2019: Global Digital Overview)
- Half of the internet users possessing a college degree or higher use the platform, as well. (Pew Research Center, 2018)
- Approximately 90 million users on the site are senior-level influencers (Statistic provided by LinkedIn)
- LinkedIn accounts for over half of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs (Sumo Article, 2019)
- 41% of millionaires rely on LinkedIn (SourceCon, 2019)
- The average annual income among LinkedIn users is currently at $46,644 (Social Media Data, 2020), with 44% making above $75,000 per year (Omnicore Study, 2019)
With statistics like this, it’s easy to see how standing out as an industry expert on LinkedIn could be beneficial to you and your business.
You should always avoid adding anything into your marketing strategy without first having a plan. So, what steps do you have to follow so that you, too, can get a piece of the LinkedIn connection pie?
Know Your Brand
First and foremost, make sure you know who you are and what you stand for before joining LinkedIn. If you’re going to stand out amongst the masses, you have to make sure that your brand message is completely clear. This will enable you to speak to your audience in a way they understand. It will also help you more effectively provide content that will add value to their lives. While filling out the sections of your profile, make sure each one is a clear representation of the bigger picture you’re trying to paint for your audience. Rachel Neppes, VP and Co-Manager of Digital Strategy, Buchanan Public Relations states, “Make sure that your B2B company profile is optimized and consistent with your overall brand identity. Treat it as an extension of your website.” Don’t forget to complete all of the sections in your profile.
Create a Content Roadmap
Before you start posting willy-nilly, you’ll have to determine what objectives you’re trying to achieve with your LinkedIn profile. What subject(s) will you be posting about? How will they add value to your audience? Will you use one modality (photographs, videos, infographics, et cetera) or a combination? Creating a roadmap will absolutely help you see what your audience is responding to and what is falling flat.
Understand the Importance of Consistency
If you’re using your LinkedIn profile as an afterthought, don’t expect to get too much traction. Consistency is key if you want to create strong connections and truly establish yourself as a professional in your chosen industry. Experts report that the most beneficial way to maximize your engagement on LinkedIn is to post daily. Typically, the highest post engagement is seen in the morning, with another spike after traditional business hours. That being said, you know your audience best and so you will be the best one to determine the posting times that are right for your business.
Determine How You Will Measure Your Results
What good are your marketing efforts if you can’t understand what’s working and what isn’t? The LinkedIn analytics dashboard will help you to do just that. Primarily, this tool tracks who has visited your page, engagement metrics and the numerical and demographic information for all of your subscribers. LinkedIn also has an Activity dashboard that will give you insights relating to your number of likes, shares, comments and mentions. These tools will help you to identify trends that will keep your social media game strong.
It May Take Time
And that’s okay! Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and neither will your following appear overnight. However, with thoughtful engaging posts and consistency, you will eventually begin to see the results that you are looking for, so don’t give up!
Understanding the Features of LinkedIn
There are several other valuable tools that the LinkedIn platform offers that you should most definitely take advantage of. Having a broad understanding of these will help you to make the most of your online presence. Here are a few of the most pertinent things you’ll need to know:
This feature will show you a list of people who you are currently connected to on the platform. It will also offer suggestions for new connections based on who you are already in contact with, your current location and your industry.
You can also sync your mobile contacts and calendar to your LinkedIn platform by using their scheduler. This means all of your contact information, meetings and interviews in one place.
Are you enjoying this post? If so, be sure to subscribe for occasional email updates from our team!
The jobs board where LinkedIn will suggest recommended jobs for you based on your location, current position and the keywords it finds on your profile. You also have the option to set up your preferences if you are actively searching for a job.
The chat feature on LinkedIn is where a lot of connections are going to begin. Once you’ve sent a message to another user, they will receive an email notification to their personal inbox, ensuring that your inquiries are never missed.
LinkedIn Groups are a great way to find professionals within your own industry or who share your interests. It’s a great platform to share insider information and insights, ask for guidance from peers and create new connections.
This feature will deliver the most relevant news by sending you targeted content that is tailored to your professional interests. It is available both through the LinkedIn platform and on the Pulse app.
LinkedIn Showcase Pages
If your business represents more than one brand, you can use Showcase Pages to shine a light directly on them individually. They are considered extensions to your main page and can be found under the ‘Affiliated Pages’ tab on your main page.
LinkedIn now allows for live video streaming, as well. This allows your business to create a more authentic and engaging presence with your audience, generating an average of 24x more comments than standard videos (according to the platform, itself). In order to utilize this function, however, you do have to submit an application.
If you’re looking to drive fast engagements, you won’t want to overlook the polls feature. Polls are a great way to gauge interest in a topic, get feedback on your existing content and start new and interesting conversations.
So, now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to start creating your content and sharing with your audience. There are some basic posting guidelines you will want to follow in order to make the most out of the platform.
Regurgitating what’s already been said and done by other professionals in your industry is not going to gain you much traction on LinkedIn. Recognize that your audience deserves fresh, exciting new content that will add value to their personal and professional lives. If you expect your audience to engage, understand that they have expectations that you will deliver content that will guide and inspire them. Get very clear on what it is they want and be prepared to go above and beyond to give it to them.
Remember that your LinkedIn profile is almost more like a living, breathing resume than a social site. It is a glaring representation of who you are as a professional, so take it seriously. Does this mean you can never drop in a joke? Absolutely not! Be authentic, but understand the types of funny content that your audience will relate and respond positively to.
Mix it Up
Rather than inundating your audience’s feed with your company promotions over and over again, mix it up and remember the 4-1-1 rule. For each post that is working to sell or highlight your brand, share a relevant update from a different source and four articles or content pieces that others have published. Again, this isn’t just about your business; it’s about your audience.
Additionally, avoid posting the same boring text blocks on repeat. Don’t be afraid to mix it up with different types of media. Videos (particularly livestreaming), infographics, PDFs and PowerPoints are all powerful tools to hook your audience and keep them coming back for more.
Hashtags are searchable themes that allow site members to find a consistent stream of content related to a particular field of interest. Using hashtags for your posts will help you to attract an audience that is truly interested in what you have to say. Remember to make sure that your hashtags are relevant to your topic and industry.
Don’t let any post go to waste! Using a call to action on your posts will encourage your audience to interact more fully with your brand. Whether you want them to contact your company directly, redirect to your personal website, register for an event, or something entirely different, CTA’s are the perfect way to boost audience engagement.
Expanding Your Tribe
What happens if you’re doing all of the “right” things and you still aren’t noticing as much traction as quickly as you’d like to? Remember, it’s not your audience’s job to find you, it’s your job to find your audience, so it’s probably time to start doing a bit more proactive searching in addition to posting.
Head to Your Contacts Page
Show your audience that you care about what’s going on in their lives. Your contacts page will offer daily alerts to remind you about important events that are occurring with your contacts. This can be anything from birthdays, work anniversaries, promotions, or more. Sending a quick note will let them know that you’re thinking of them and keep you in their awareness.
If you’re posting about something that you know will be relevant to another of your LinkedIn connections, tag them. This serves, also, to keep you at the forefront of their mind, but also allows you an opportunity to be seen by their connections, thus offering you boatloads of additional potential exposure.
Utilize the Network Feature
As we previously mentioned, your network feature doesn’t only show who you’re already connected to, but offers a steady stream of recommendations for new connections based on who you are, who you already know, and what you do. Peruse this often and look for other relationships that you could build upon that would add value to both sides. Make sure that you personalize your connection requests rather than sending the same thing to everybody.
Another great way to find your audience is to join groups! According to Smart Bug Media, there were over 2 million active LinkedIn groups as of April 2019, with an average of 8,000 more being added on weekly. They also report that members who engage in group discussions on the platform receive an average of four times more profile views than those who do not. The typical LinkedIn member joins about seven groups, creating a lot of extra possibilities for new connections.
Engage with Existing Contacts
Just because you’ve added a new connection, it doesn’t mean that the interaction should end there. If you want to maintain strong LinkedIn relationships with your connections, reach out periodically to check in and see what they’re up to.
Introduce Your Contacts
If you have contacts who you think might benefit one another, don’t be afraid to connect them. This will usually work in your favor, as later down the line they may do the same for you, helping you to also expand your own network.
Promote Your Profile
Lastly, use your other social media platforms to drive your audience over to LinkedIn. Share your URL and make sure that there is a LinkedIn button on your website.
Understanding LinkedIn Etiquette
All that being said, there are some definite do’s and don’ts that you will want to consider when trying to expand your audience and build new connections.
DO Be Authentic
Just like in the non-virtual world, when you meet somebody online, you want the connection to feel authentic, so be yourself. Adding a bunch of fluff to your profile will only take you so far and people will likely be able to see right through it. Commit to speaking from your real-life personal and professional experience and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
DO Respond Promptly
Check your LinkedIn inbox and notifications regularly. Respond promptly and professionally to any inquires, connection requests, questions or comments on your posts. Response time is oftentimes indicative to your audience of how much they mean to you, so let them feel heard.
DO Have a Good Reason to Connect
Rather than just clicking “connect” on everybody that pops up on your feed, make sure that there is value added to both parties by the LinkedIn relationship. When you reach out, offer compelling reasons that the other party should get to know you. Showcase the benefits that they stand to gain.
DO Learn from Analytics
If you’re noticing that certain types of posts aren’t getting much traction, switch it up! You’ve definitely misread your audience and it’s time to step back and reassess.
DON’T Use Automation
Have you ever gotten an email or comment that was so cookie-cutter and impersonal that you absolutely knew it was automated? Annoying, right? Remember that this is about making real relationships and connections. Even if you happen to convince somebody to accept your connection request based on your automated response, it’s probably going to be relatively shallow. Make sure to personalize all of your LinkedIn interactions.
All of your content should be original, period. If you do choose to share somebody else’s content, it’s absolutely imperative that you give them the credit for it by tagging them in your post. Your credibility will be paramount to building a lasting network.
DON’T Over Pitch
Lastly, do NOT, whatever you do, connect with somebody and immediately try to pitch your product or service to them. Buyers on LinkedIn are absolutely willing to spend their money, but first and foremost, they are looking for help with a problem, not a rehearsed and impersonal pitch.
DON’T Self-Promote Ad-Nauseum
While it’s fine to celebrate your victories, make sure that your entire feed doesn’t become a show all about you. Remember that your connections are looking for ways that you can add value to their lives, not just talk about your own.
While there are certainly many things to know about LinkedIn in order to make the most out of it, it has proven itself to be an extremely valuable tool in the world of business. Whether you’re an employer looking for your next recruit, an employer searching for their dream job, a business or entrepreneur looking to expand awareness on your brand or anything in between, there’s no doubt that LinkedIn will help you to broaden your reach if you use it the right way.