15 Small Business Tips to Become a Networking Pro [SLIDESHOW]
July 31, 2013
Having the right connections on LinkedIn can create breakthrough opportunities for your small business, from raising funds to making your first big sale. But how do you find and engage the right contacts? How do you network on LinkedIn in an effective, assertive, and professional way?
We explored this topic at our first LinkedIn Live event in Blacksburg, Virginia, where local LinkedIn experts and business leaders shared tactics for effective networking on LinkedIn. Here are some top tips from the day:
- Have an immediate goal, but think longer term. Connections can come from unexpected places; the engineer you meet at a networking event could be a good friend of the CMO you’re trying to engage. Don’t discount someone who doesn’t have direct or immediate relevance for you – if they’re an interesting and successful person, they can open doors to new opportunities down the road.
- Start the conversation first, connect later. So you’ve identified a potential business contact on LinkedIn – what now? Creating a dialogue and developing a relationship are important prerequisites to sending an invitation to connect. Break the ice with an InMail, stating your intentions or complimenting their work
- Show your worth. Demonstrating value to a potential business contact is key to building a fruitful relationship. Start by helping them achieve their goals before yours – connect them with your contacts, share your knowledge, or even contribute to a project. This selfless attitude will be rewarded when you need something in return.
- Focus on quality, not quantity. Would you rather have 100 connections you don’t really know, or 10 business contacts who truly want to help you succeed? While LinkedIn is effective at maintaining ‘weak ties’, the value of your LinkedIn network depends on having sufficiently strong relationships to enable economic interactions.
- Leave your office. LinkedIn offers an expansive network of potential business contacts, but proximity helps, and the person you’re looking for could be right next door. Get out of the building and start networking in person. Close the loop after meeting new contacts by reaching out on LinkedIn, and get access to their collective networks.
- Identify the ‘network hubs’. It only takes one connection to unlock the right pool of potential contacts. Evaluate your existing network to identify contacts that are ‘hubs’, who can help give you access to the network you need to achieve your goals.
See all 15 tips to networking on LinkedIn here:
This blog post is the first of a series of three posts, which will explore topics covered at LinkedIn Live – a gathering for small businesses and local professionals to share ways to grow their business using LinkedIn. Stay tuned next week to hear what local Roanoke-Blacksburg LinkedIn experts have to say about finding talent on LinkedIn.
For more tips on how small businesses can leveage LinkedIn for networking, visit us at smallbusiness.linkedin.com, or follow us on Twitter at @LinkedInSMB."