Shifting from Promotion to Connection
If your focus is B2B, there is no better social media platform for you than LinkedIn. It’s where professionals go to connect with colleagues and consume industry-related content. If you haven’t used it in a while because you thought it was just for job seekers and kind of lifeless, it’s time to give it a fresh look. There’s a lot happening there, and it offers real opportunity for those that use it strategically.
Marketing on LinkedIn can be invaluable to your B2B business, but success on LinkedIn requires more than just posting about your products or services on your company page. If you want to build your network [and ultimately grow your business], you’ll need to shift your focus from promotion to connection.
And here’s why: People want to do business with people they know and trust, and LinkedIn is a valuable tool for building those connections and trust. It requires a shift in thinking–from using LinkedIn as a place to sell to enjoying it as a place to connect and share. The big idea is to do more giving than taking–giving of support, amplification, input, and industry know-how. If you haven’t read Adam Grant’s Give and Take, I highly recommend it. He covers this approach to business connections very well.
Not sure how to get started? We can help! Here are 3 steps to building true connections though your personal LinkedIn page:
Connect with Colleagues
The first thing you should do to start building your LinkedIn network is send connection requests to all of your clients, colleagues, and professional contacts. Use your contact lists as a starting point. One by one, find them on LinkedIn and click “connect.” You may choose to send a personal message along with your connection request to remind the person how you know them.
Going forward, make a habit of immediately sending connection requests to every person you meet in a professional setting. LinkedIn is good at suggesting new connections to you, so take a look at those suggestions and connect in that way too.
For salespeople, face-to-face time with customers and potential customers is your most valuable resource, but it is a limited one. LinkedIn provides you with the opportunity to continue building those relationships and stay top-of-mind beyond the limits of in-person interactions.
In order to start growing those relationships, you have to start the conversation by posting on LinkedIn. Your posts should be a mix of personal, professional, and promotional.
Personal: Share your life–to an extent.
People prefer to buy from people that they know. When you share bits of your personal life on LinkedIn, your connections will begin to see you more as a person than a salesperson. Post about your daughter’s wedding, your new puppy, or your favorite hobby. And make sure to show your face from time to time. In our experience, these types of posts perform the best across all social media platforms.
Use common sense when sharing personal content on LinkedIn. Avoid political opinions, controversial topics, and be careful not to brag or complain. Think of your posts as the same kinds of things you would share in a business meeting.
Professional: Share content related to your industry!
Contribute to the conversation without pitching your product. Professional content can take a variety of forms. Here are a few examples:
- Share articles from industry magazines and blogs, and add your own commentary.
- Welcome a new employee to your company.
- Post professional successes (projects that you’ve completed, promotions, etc.).
- Share photos from an industry event and tag notable attendees or collaborators.
- Discuss ideas related to things happening in your industry. Post questions about industry topics to get a conversation started.
Promotional: Share what you do.
While building relationships is the most important part, you still need to communicate what you have to offer. Post about what you do or what you sell intermittently, trying to keep these posts to a lesser proportion (maybe 1 in 5) of your total shared content.
Make sure your promotional posts are client-focused, using “you” language to convey how your potential customers will benefit from your product or service. Share how you have helped other customers using testimonials, or post about how your product or service solves a problem.
This piece is the key and where you should spend most of your time. This is the giving part mentioned in the intro. Like, comment, and share posts from your customers/colleagues and their businesses. Relationships are a two-way street. If you want your connections to notice your posts, you must start by engaging with theirs. Celebrate the people in your network and what they are doing. Amplify their work and their wins. Follow industry organization and publication pages and engage with them regularly. Get involved.
Social media is a long game. You can’t expect to post a few photos of your product and make immediate sales. It requires building relationships over the course of months and years. It is a process of giving in terms of liking, commenting, and sharing good information without expectation of reciprocity.
Set aside a few 30-minute blocks each week to manage your personal LinkedIn account. And understand that you won’t see results overnight, but know that you will see them in the long term.