Connecting on LinkedIn: Building a Network that Works

LinkedIn is a great place for business leaders to network. In fact, it is the go-to network for B2B conversations and marketing. People go to Facebook to unwind and relax, and the same is true of Instagram. They go to LinkedIn for more than just job hunting. They go to connect with companies, get advice, and network in a whole new way. 

But how do you build a network with your company page? There are some tips and tricks you should know about. Here are the best practices to build your LinkedIn network to develop connections, find clients and customers, and learn from and share information with, your peers.

Start with People

First, your network starts with people not other companies, and if you are going to get more people to network with your company, you need to start with your personal profile and your people. 

LinkedIn profiles used to start with “[Current position] looking to use skills to enter [new position] with an thriving and exciting company in [enter field here].” That’s because it started as a sophisticated job board but has since moved on to become a business to business networking goldmine. 

So if you or a member of your team has not updated their bio since their last job search, make sure they do so. Make sure your employee bios, especially if they point to your company, are up to date and that they represent your company culture. 

Encourage your employees, directors, and advisors to share relevant content, engage with others, and to stay true to your values at least while on LinkedIn. 

Remember, the first place your network is likely to find out about your company is through your people, so make sure your profile and theirs is solid. 

Make LinkedIn Your Networking Tool

After meeting with someone on a virtual call or through an email introduction, look them up on LinkedIn. View their profile and send a connection request from your profile if appropriate. Don’t just send the default LinkedIn connection request. Personalize yours with a message. Someone is more likely to connect if you include something like, “Great chatting with you on [call name]. I’d love to connect here on LinkedIn.”

It’s much easier to make a warm connection with someone if you have something to introduce yourself by. Another method is to look at mutual connections. If you see that someone you want to connect to is connected with someone in your existing network, ask that person for an introduction.

Once you are connected with someone, you can invite them to your company page. That is where the next step comes in. 

Have Something to Invite Them To

Too many companies on LinkedIn wonder why they have few likes and follows of their company page, but when you visit the page, you find it infested. 

With crickets. Nothing is happening. No posts are being written or shared, or the feed is filled with the company’s own content or sales pitches. Boring, off-putting, and hardly worth following. So you want to have more company followers? Give them something to follow. 

  • There are several things you can do: 
  • Share live videos on relevant, trending topics in your industry. 
  • Share posts and insights from others in your network. 
  • LinkedIn Stories are a thing now. Use them.
  • Use LinkedIn’s powerful marketing tools to drive traffic to your page. 

Remember, this is where you start. What do you pay attention to on LinkedIn in your industry or when you are looking for clients or even job candidates? Does that resonate with your audience? Then share more of it. 

Partner with Others

 No company is an island, and you don’t want your only follower and connection to be a volleyball named Wilson who loves beaches and long ocean voyages. You need to partner with others in your network. Share their content and they will be more likely to share yours. 

Which brings up another reminder. Your partners can’t share your content if you don’t have any to share. Create posts and video just for LinkedIn, share your blog post and other relevant content, and don’t always be “salesy” or asking for anything. Most of your content should simply be either pre-funnel or top of the funnel. Helpful advice, industry news, and other things should come ahead of “buy my product” or “use my service.”

Remember, you are partnering with others. Networking. Think of when you attended your last in person networking event (ah, those were the days!) or the person you eventually have to mute on the Zoom call for too much self-promotion. Don’t be that guy on Zoom or on LinkedIn. The more helpful you are (for free!) the more you activate the law of reciprocity. Your partners will become your ambassadors. 

Reach Out to Help (and be genuine)

If you’ve been on LinkedIn more than five minutes, you probably have an Inbox filled with DM’s asking you to schedule a 15 minute call to talk about how “we might be able to collaborate.” Most of these are poorly disguised sales pitches, and there are arguments that the “15 minute phone call” DM needs to die. 

The problem with most of these outreach offers is that the sender is rarely genuine in their offer. When you reach out to anyone in your network with an offer to help, make sure that is what you are really doing. The offer to help should not include: 

  • A sales pitch of any kind.
  • Information on why your product/service/whatever is THE answer (unless it really is, or the recipient of your help asks)
  • An agenda on your part to get a follow-up call or messaging unless you really plan to offer more FREE help.

What your outreach and offer for help should include is this: 

  • Asking a lot of questions. Find out who the person is, and what they genuinely need.
  • Ideas and recommendations if they don’t need what you offer/sell
  • Genuine, unbranded advice
  • An offer to continue to help if it makes sense. 

Do have a time limit. Don’t spend all day on a call just chatting. It’s fun, and easy to do, but it won’t keep either of you on track with your business goals. Respect the other person’s time and your own. 

If you are a consultant or even if you aren’t, make it clear what advice and help you can offer for free, and if, when, and how you will have to charge them for advice. Networking can include an offer to help, but ongoing, unpaid help can be a time suck you start to resent. Set clear expectations and stick with them. 

LinkedIn can be a gold mine for business owners. From marketing and advertising to finding the best talent for your organization to networking with some of the most brilliant minds in the business, you’re sure to find value there. Just be sure you build a network that works. 

Offer help, genuinely. Partner with others. Build your content and your page and be sure your employees (and your) profile reflects your values and represents your company well. The dividends you reap will be worth far more than any effort you put in.