How to spark a love match on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is billed as the social network for business, but why does it seem so hard to make a connection? I don’t know about you, but at times it kinda feels like a bar at the end of the night, with everyone talking past each other, desperate to find The One before it’s too late.

Because it’s so easy to reach people in the right role and the right industry, LinkedIn has become a bit of meat market for sales prospecting, as I’m sure you’ve experienced yourself. And obviously this sort of behavior has left people feeling just a little allergic to any overtures from someone they don’t know well.

More importantly, your The One is not necessarily out there drink in hand, swaying to Taylor Swift and looking for you too. 

We've talked about the reasons LinkedIn users visit before; to reconnect with past colleagues, update their profile, participate in groups and research – in effect, they come goal oriented. I'm sure you know how hard it can be hard to capture the attention of someone focused on something else, and this can make marketing irritating or just plain invisible.

So like at the beginning of any good long-term relationship, it pays to take it slow. LinkedIn, like any social media is a long term game. You wouldn't barrel into a room and ask for someone you’ve only just met to buy from you or give you personal info would you? Social media is exactly the same. You need to find ways to solve their problems or enhance their lives and not come in fast with the hard sell.

 

Filling your little black book

When you do first reach out, you will get a better response if you spend time crafting very personal and targeted messages that show you know about, and are interested in them or their business. There’s nothing memorable about getting that standard ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn’, and while they may accept your invitation, who you are will quickly be forgotten. Find something genuine to say that they can respond to (compliment their approach on another social network, comment on their background or identify a shared interest) otherwise the next move will always be yours to make.

 

Going steady

It’s a fact that we respond well to people who like us, and by being a regular in their news feed you can begin the cycle of ‘know, trust, buy’, important in all sales relationships. Take the time to stop in regularly and interact with your contacts’ status updates by commenting, liking or sharing their content, and celebrating their successes.

 

Be irresistibly interesting

Curate external articles, research or reports that might be of interest to your target market, by setting up Google Alerts, or using a tool like Medium, Flipbook or Zite. Focus on topics that are tangential to your service or product and see if you can create discussion.

 

Be impossible to ignore

Draw greater attention to your own content by 'blogging' on LinkedIn rather than posting links to a blog in a status update (to do this, click the pencil icon in the ‘share an update box and you’re away). This is particularly potent because your connections get an alert that you’ve posted new content.  I recently started this and noticed a huge increase in comments, likes and sharing from my connections.

 

Getting out of the friends zone

If you’re thinking about sending them an InMail, provide them something of use before you 'go in for the kill' of asking for a coffee meeting. As an example I got a great response once from a connection when I came across an article with an interesting take on his industry. I sent it across to him with a humorous comment, asking nothing in return. This opened the barriers to a light-hearted conversation, and he later came back to me asking to meet to discuss a proposal. 

Ah, true love.

 

Nerissa Atkinson is co-Director of The Revery, a marketing agency that creates 'human shaped' marketing to educate buyers, accelerate sales and drive revenue. She's also the writer of The Rubber Band Brand, a guide to building a strong and resilient brand.

Image via Flickr CC/Evan