LinkedIn is not only useful for the unemployed, but is also a great tool for business owners to connect with one-another. In general, social media can be a wonderful tool to grow your business. But Facebook might be a bit too social for some to take seriously, and Twitter is really only great for short announcements due to their tweet character limit. LinkedIn remains as one of the more purely work-related social media outlets. By utilizing LinkedIn as a business tool, you can jumpstart the way your company communicates both internally and externally.
Cut Out the Middleman
When you're trying to get a hold of someone at a particular company, you often have to jump through hoops just to get a meeting with them. You call their service desk, which is then transferred to the shift manager's desk, which is then transferred to the CEO's secretary, and then you get transferred to the CEO's desk, and then you have to leave a voicemail because he isn't available at that current time.
This is frustrating and a waste of time. By attempting to communicate with professionals via LinkedIn, you cut out the entire middle portion of this process and can speak directly to who you are trying to contact. This way, you can get right down to business instead of worming your way through unnecessary steps.
Before you can attempt to engage anyone in business deals, you first need to find them. This is made much easier through the advanced search on LinkedIn. It's also a valuable tool for locating prospective clients and customers. By finding your audience faster, you improve your workplace's performance and efficiency.
It's All About Who You Know
When your parents were telling you that real life is all about "who you know", they were right. In order to get anywhere in business, you need to make quality connections. You know you're on the right track if they have a professional profile picture, a significant number of contacts, and a detailed career history. If any of these are absent, it's very possible that the person you're targeting visits LinkedIn sparingly, and their request won't be worth sending. The high number of connections is particularly important, as they will help you expand your network even more.
Think About What You Say
After sending a connection request on LinkedIn, you should then write them a follow up message that explains what you are looking for in your business partners, and what they can expect from you. You want to take your time with this and make it personal. Nobody likes generic, mass emails that get sent out after a big bout of interviews and applications. You want the potential business partner to think that you are not willing to just partner with anyone. Think about it like writing your vows at your wedding - you don't want a quick one-liner that could make the bride run away at the last minute, and you certainly don't want your potential partner to ignore your connection request. Just like marriage, working together is a relationship, and you want them to know that you are in it for the long run. Ask them if they have time for a phone call or a meeting (a much more personal touch) to discuss further business.
It Takes Two to Tango
As with any relationship, you shouldn't ask for too much without giving something in return. In this case, you should offer to help your prospective business partner's company in any way you can. If they need insight on a subject they are unfamiliar with, or if they need help connecting with one of your connections, throw them a bone. After all, they did agree to connect with you in the first place, right?
By fully utilizing LinkedIn, you'll have a much more professional online presence. Do you use LinkedIn, and what are some of your favorite tactics for finding prospective business leads? What other social platforms do you utilize for business? Let us know in the comments!