More than likely you've noticed that I've been writing a lot of posts on the subject of depth vs. the creation of massive networks of people you don't know. The idea behind this is simple, it matters more that people know who you are than how many people you have in your "network." Take a close look at how many followers you have on Twitter, how many friends you have on Facebook, and the number of connections you have on LinkedIn, where has it gotten you? Remember, the whole reason social networks are prevalent is because they allow people to connect with one another in a variety of different ways.
Remember: Your success is directly tied to the strength of your connections. Weak social connections will lead to little or no success while strong connections, with the right people, will lead you to high amounts of success.
Take a look at the strength of your current connections, how many people would you say know you? How many of them would refer business your way or help you out in one way or another? Odds are, not very many. In this post I'm going to give you 5 ways that you can turn your casual LinkedIn connections into financial windfall. Why LinkedIn? Because it's a business network, it's where the movers and the shakers are, if you want to learn how to connect with the movers and shakers, check out how here.
Below you will find 5 ways, plus a bonus, that you can use to connect or reconnect with your LinkedIn connections. Remember, depth is more important than breadth.
#1 Start A Conversation
Engagement (conversation) is a precursor to the building of positive, win-win relationships. In order for people to want to do business with you, to want to refer business your way they have to first like, know, and trust you; if that's going to happen you must first engage them in conversation.
The kind of conversations that I'm referring to aren't the kind that start with, "nice weather we're having." But conversations that paint you as a thought leader. Questions that set you apart from everybody else. Questions that make others stand up and take notice... of you. First, make sure that you know what is in the profile of the person you want to build a deeper relationship with, in other words don't ask them a question that can be answered just by reading their profile, that's actually quite irritating. Below you will find a few examples of some questions that you can ask, the first part is what I like to call a lead in, the second part is where the true conversation starters are, just mix and match a lead in with a conversation starter and go from there.
- Mike, we've been connections for a while now and I'm ashamed to say that I know next to nothing about you, totally my fault, with your permission I'd like to change that.
- Samantha, we haven't communicated much, even though we're connected here on LinkedIn.
- Paulette, it's been a while since we had a conversation, I really enjoyed our last one, I think it's time for another!
- Joe, back when we first connected I really meant to reach out to you, but never got around to doing it.
- In your last post I noticed that you brought up the idea of creating an ongoing development program for salespeople. In your opinion, how often should you have a formal sit down with your salespeople to go over their development plan and where they are?
- Being a small business owner that uses social media to connect with your customers, which networks are you seeing as being the most beneficial?
- I'm just started out, what advice would you give a newbie that was just starting in outside sales? Any advice on how to get past the gatekeeper?
- I'm writing a post on social media in the auto industry and with you owning a dealership that gets it, I'd really like your input on something. Would it be okay if I sent you a questions then quotes you in my post?
The question ideas are endless, just make sure that you keep them relevant to the person you're asking them to. Most people, if worded the right way, will have no problem answering them, especially if it's asked in such a way that answering it will make them feel like an expert. If you can get them talking about themselves or their business then you are well on your way to creating a lasting win-win relationship.
#2 Share Their Content
If the person you're trying to connect with has a blog, share it. If they post an update share it, do whatever you can to help them get noticed, then let them know it! For instance if you shared their post on a LinkedIn group and somebody comments on it, let the author know! Send them a link to what you posted and let them know that somebody asked a question. Then, ask if you should follow up with the question or if they should.
Don't tell them that you are sharing their content just to tell them. What I mean is that you shouldn't send them a message and say, "hey I shared your post on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter." Instead come up with another reason to do so. You can even send them a message and say, "Wow, your last post really opened my eyes. Would it be okay if I reposted it on my blog, with full credit to you of course?"
You can also say something like, "I'm writing a post on a topic that you're an expert on, would it be okay if I quote you, with a link to your site?"
What are they going to say to that one? No? Of course not, share, share, share!
Also, most people who have a twitter account will share it on their LinkedIn profile. Make it a practice that when you share their content on Twitter to add via @UserName at the end, that way they will see that you are sharing their content.
#3 Refer Business Their Way
I spoke about this a bit in my last post and is the single best way to get people to send you referrals. Go out of you way to refer as much as possible. Is your best friend buying a car, refer him to a salesperson that you are connected with. Is your best friend buying house? Refer her to a real estate agent that you are connected with on LinkedIn. Are you in the checkout lane at the local grocery store and you over hear a conversation about needing to go to the dentist, refer one of your connections!
You'd be surprised how many times you miss an opportunity to refer somebody. Don't know anybody that you can refer? Find somebody, search them out on linkedIn and connect them with. For instance, let's say that your best friend is looking to buy a house but she hasn't found the right real estate agent yet. All you need to do is go to Google, look up some reviews then find the real estate agent on LinkedIn. Connect with them and them introduce him to your friend. This is a great way to make yourself stand out and will go a long way to earning you referrals down the road yourself. What are you waiting for, go build that network!
#4 Interview Them For An Upcoming Post
Professionals are always looking for ways to get seen, earn referrals themselves and to be introduced to other people. So, offer to interview one of your connections for an upcoming post. Why?
- They feel good about you asking them because in reality you are saying, "you are expert and both myself and my readers can learn a lot from you!"
- They get an opportunity to be seen by people that they may not have an opportunity to be seen by any other way.
- People like to share what they know, it's an ego boost.
There are more of course, like backlinks to their blog, direct sales and so on and so forth.
#5 Invite Them To A Mixer
This works really great if you are connected to a lot of people in your local market, then it's just a matter of setting up a time and place for you to meet up. Maybe it can be over cocktails, at your place or over dinner. This isn't a get to know you type thing because I don't know yet, but will happen only after you've build some sort of relationship. You can invite 10 people and call it a networking event, I've been to a few of these, hosted by other people, and they usually go over really well. It's a way for you to get to meet the people you've been messaging back and forth, face-to-face. Don't overlook this one as being too outside the box, it's powerful and is something that you should really think about putting together.
Bonus - Write Hand Written Notes
I've spoken about this before and encourage you to pick up the practice of writing hand written notes. They go a long way to helping you stand out from the crowd and will really elevate your status in the mind of the person receiving the note. Don't substitute with email, it's too easy and everybody does it, the whole idea of this post is to go above and beyond and to become a person that is remembered.
If after reading this post you are scratching your head wondering where the financial windfall is then you have missed the point all together. The idea is to create a strong connection between yourself and the movers and shakers of your community, both inside and outside of your industry. By connecting with and helping others to succeed you yourself will succeed in whatever it is that you want to achieve. Become connected, create a powerful network with powerful people, you will be surprised at what can happen.
Good luck and as always I'd love to hear from you. About your successes and failures, what ideas do you have about connecting with your LinkedIn connections in order to create financial windfall?
- LinkedIn, 5 Steps To Connecting With The Movers And Shakers
- 5 Ways To Work Your Way Into Your Customers Social Graph And Influence Word Of Mouth
- LinkedIn- Harnessing The Power Of The Super Influencer