Heidi May joins the Bay team this month with advice on using one of the world’s biggest social networking platforms designed specifically for the business community.
There is so much information and advice out there for a start-up business; sometimes, it can be hard to know where to start. You may not be confident in applying all the information to your particular business, and even with all this useful advice the bottom line for all startups is..…how and where can I find clients?
You may have heard that social media is a must for all startups, to help raise your presence and get you seen by your new and future clients. You might be familiar with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.
But did you know there is one platform that is solely for business professionals and is focused on building B2B and B2C relationships? It is all about providing a new business with the opportunity to find their ideal clients and most importantly connect directly with decision-makers.
The platform is called LinkedIn
It is a social networking platform designed specifically for the business community. The purpose of the site is to allow users to establish professional networks, alongside providing them with the opportunity to approach and connect with new and future clients and decision-makers.
A regular question I get asked is……how do I use LinkedIn to connect with clients, and why is it a platform I should use?
LinkedIn provides you with the ability to access and connect with a vast audience of potential new clients and businesses, as well as help spread the word about you and your business. But you need to know how to use it to make the most of it.
Like any social media platform that you use for marketing, or connecting with others, your message is critical. If you don’t use it right, you will get lost amongst the hundreds, thousands of other people, businesses, who are connecting, posting and chatting on Linkedin.
But how can you use it?
Here are a few pointers to help you in the right direction, to begin connecting and engaging with people on the platform to generate business and leads.
Firstly you need to ensure you create a personal LinkedIn profile which is up to date. LinkedIn is your podium to present your skills, ability, knowledge, experience and work history. You are also able to display recommendations you’ve received and skill endorsements. It is always advisable to get others to endorse you and provide reviews, this will help validate the value and benefits you bring to a new clients, connections and businesses.
The more you add to your profile the more information others will see. This will help them to understand who you are and how you stand out from the rest.
Once you have your profile ready, you need to start connecting, finding those potential clients, businesses and networks. To help you do this and get some real results apply the following approaches:
- Identify prospects and build networks – Begin by finding people with a title or role that relates to your market or ideal client. This is crucial to find the right people to connect with and to start those conversations with about your products/services.
- Send genuine and personalised connections with a message.
- Send a Thank You message – Often people don’t realise how well received a thank you and acknowledgement goes when it comes to LinkedIn.
- Many people on LinkedIn are inundated with connection requests. Therefore any way you can personalise your connection is advantageous, and you will stand out from the crowd. However, the message should not be used as a pitch or self-promotion; this could turn the person off. Add your website in your signature but make sure you leave a positive impression.
- Join and engage with LinkedIn groups – Just like other social media platforms, there are groups on LinkedIn. It is beneficial to join these, as you can post and engage with a broader audience in a specific field or area of interest that is relevant to your business.
- Move conversations offline – Moving it off, LinkedIn allows you to show a real interest in them. You can build credibility, expertise and provide value, by taking the time to find out and understand their issues and or interest in you and your business.
- You can start to establish a personal relationship and nurture the connection into a buying client or future contact.
Consistency will get you the results!
With all forms of marketing, networking and lead generation, consistency is vital. You need to use LinkedIn regularly and remember to follow up, take the conversation onto the next level, with a call, or email. Make every connection personal, build rapport, show interest and be genuine. Everyone on here could be a potential client, so show you understand what their needs are or what their struggles might be. If you are connecting to build your network, suggest meeting in person, grab a coffee, chat through your common issues, business matters and current trends. People like to deal with people who show awareness of who they are and what they are doing and that you are willing to invest your time in them! All the effort you put in, will help make their purchasing decision easier.
Remember, without clients; you’re not making money. Without visibility, they’re not finding you.
Heidi May – Business Support Manager – www.oasis-support.co.uk