Some people I meet are still reluctant to use LinkedIn because they are unsure about how to approach it, and imagine there may be some general rules of engagement, but they’re not sure what they are. If I am describing you, be reassured that your concern makes sense as LinkedIn is reported to be where larger Australian businesses play, so there’s potentially lots at stake for your online reputation.
Rules of engagement on LinkedIn
There are rules of engagement on LinkedIn, and I like to refer to them as LinkedIn etiquette because my approach to LinkedIn is not the same as some of the more salesy approaches that you may have heard about or experienced.
When we talk about your business to business (B2B) etiquette on LinkedIn, we are talking about how to engage with other business owners or business leaders on LinkedIn. Importantly, whether your focus is as a B2B business or a business to consumer (B2C) business, in both cases you are interacting with humans and so need to remember to treat people with respect when you engage with them on LinkedIn.
The foundations of building business relationships
While I don’t believe you can live on a digital diet alone, I do believe you can start (and continue) many conversations on LinkedIn with the people who matter to your business. This may be long lost colleagues, suppliers, and potential clients and collaborators.
I encourage you to imagine LinkedIn is just like a virtual room and your profile is you. Focus on what you can give, rather than what you can get, and remember to use your manners. Be personable and helpful, because at the heart of being an effective networker is focusing on the relationship first, and serving your goals second. People can smell a salesperson or personal agenda and often hate this transactional approach on LinkedIn. You know the type!
Focus on key topics of expertise or interest
I recommend you take a strategic approach to how you present yourself and engage with others on LinkedIn and consider LinkedIn’s role as part of an overall content marketing strategy. This involves considering who you want to influence on LinkedIn and clearly positioning yourself as a specialist in your area of expertise.
If you choose to use the LinkedIn published article feature you can demonstrate the problems you solve with case studies or insights from experiences you have with clients. It is also useful to decide the core topics that are relevant to the connections you wish to influence. These topics can:
- form your focus areas for LinkedIn
- help guide the types of articles you share
- help guide the updates you like and comment on
Take some time to think about the 3 key topics that are relevant to both your services and your client’s needs.
Contribute thoughtfully and strategically
Remember, this is a business platform where you can influence current and potential stakeholders so be considered and strategic with your topic choices. Once you have developed a clear understanding of your online voice, you can tell your story via your professional profile and leverage the thinking you have done around your LinkedIn strategy to help position yourself as an expert in your field.
You can provide thought leadership in your areas of expertise and contribute in groups or share insightful posts and LinkedIn articles, creating opportunities to network with your connections and group members.
To start more conversations and build stronger business relationships on LinkedIn I encourage you to:
- respond to invitations to connect with a conversational follow up message
- follow up face to face conversations with new contacts by inviting them to connect on LinkedIn
- like relevant posts and updates shared by colleagues
- comment when you can genuinely add value to the discussion
- share relevant and insightful content (e.g. useful articles you have read) and remember to stay focussed on your chosen topic areas
I encourage you take the time to consider your plan for LinkedIn and I look forward to hearing about the results you achieve for your business as a result.
As one of Asia Pacific’s Top 10 LinkedIn Experts I share fortnightly news with my global email community and run monthly online Lunch and Learns to teach professionals how to unlock LinkedIn. Sign up to my newsletter to help you learn LinkedIn – the right way!