It's common knowledge that people buy from people that they know, like and trust. In order to develop the 'know, like, trust' factor, it's necessary to build a relationship, and to do that it's also necessary to have offline conversations, as well as online ones.
But you know what's even more important than having a two-way conversation (versus just broadcasting on social media)?
So what does meaningful action look like when building an engaged community?
Crucial to the success of any effort to create an engaged and interactive community is collaboration.
As discussed in my previous article, LinkedIn Currency: Build an Engaged & Profitable Community, two-way conversation is a vital component to building an engaged community - but it's only one piece. Providing value to members of your community strengthens your network as a whole and creates a strong sense of community.
While this is true for all communities, those that exist largely online (on social media platforms like LinkedIn) provide far less opportunities for person-to-person contact, so there's a larger trust gap and the value that it gives its members must therefore be more tangible and easily measured.
This is where collaboration becomes a powerful tool in the community building arsenal.
The elements and strategies I'm going to share may seem like simple common sense (and they are) but there are very few people taking advantage of them to build their communities. As you read through each element you'll find one example of an action you could take to implement collaboration effectively into your LinkedIn marketing activities.
Here are three key elements of collaboration on LinkedIn, which will help you to build trust with your connections, expand the size of your community and establish your authority on your topic.
LinkedIn Currency: The 3 Key Elements of Collaboration
Be A Connector
Help your connections to grow their network or community and you, by extension, will also grow your own.
On LinkedIn your network is composed of your 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections as well as people you share a group with. While you can, and should, look for new people to connect with and grow your community, these relationships will start from the beginning. Such connections can take significant time and effort to grow.
But when someone you know and trust introduces you to either someone you can help, someone who can help you, or whom you both can benefit in some way, you'll feel a much higher degree of trust from the beginning of that relationship.
Such an act will also invoke the Law of Reciprocity.
Nothing makes a stronger and more genuine impression on somebody then when you give selflessly, generously and (most importantly) without the expectation of receiving anything in return.
The reciprocity you build will also make those same community members inclined to introduce you to people they think you will benefit from being connected to, growing your network in a meaningful way.
So if you know that two of your connections would benefit from being introduced to one another, reach out and introduce them. Share why you think each would benefit from knowing the other and ask for nothing in return.
Doing this will evoke reciprocity and provides your community members with significant value - and greatly increase trust.
EXAMPLE ACTION: Set a goal to introduce at least two of your connections to each other once a week (or month).
While becoming a "connector" within your network is vital, successful collaboration within a group requires additional effort and investment on your part.
One of the most impactful ways you can show your connections that you value them and are invested in their success is by looking for ways to help them achieve it.
This can be as simple as sharing a great piece of content with your community, produced by someone in your network.
Or perhaps a connection's trying to get a new job - aside from connecting them with people who might be able to help, you can also keep your eyes open for opportunities that are similar to what they're looking for. If you know them and what they do, and are comfortable doing so, you could provide them with a recommendation or endorse their skills.
These are all meaningful ways to help your connections.
And while it's always beneficial to do what you reasonably can to help someone in your community, there's nothing wrong with occasionally asking for help yourself.
By making yourself vulnerable and asking for help, you show your community that you trust and need them too. Relationships are give and take.
A quick example of this would be to ask your connections to share your blog post if they find it helpful.
This does NOT mean that you should connect with someone and then immediately ask them to do something for you.
All to often I get messages from new connections, or existing ones that I've not yet built a relationship with who ask me for favor - that's not a reasonable request at that stage of our relationship.
Before you ask your community for help, be sure that you've provided enough value and established enough of a relationship with them that they'll feel that your request is reasonable.
There are no set guidelines for what's considered 'reasonable' - this'll depend on many factors, most of which will focus on what's involved for them to provide the help and how deep and meaningful your relationship is.
EXAMPLE ACTION: Set a goal to find and share five great posts or pieces of content shared and/or created by your connections.
The chance to help your connections will not always come, so don't wait for opportunities to collaborate or help them, create opportunities.
This is especially important if you're working to build your authority on your topic.
Within your own community, look for ways to work together and support each other. Examples of this might be by creating a LinkedIn Group where all members are encouraged to ask and answer questions or provide feedback to other members.
Outside of your existing community, look for collaboration opportunities with other experts who provide complimentary products or services, which your community might find helpful. These types of collaboration opportunities vary and can be based on a single project or event or be long term in nature.
As well as aiding your own community by introducing them to someone who can help them (in an area that you don't), there's also the chance to be introduced to the community of the person you are collaborating with. This is a fantastic way to expand your reach and gain credibility.
There must be value for all partners and it's important to clearly identify the the goals, metrics, roles and benefits for both parties when establishing new collaboration opportunities.
These opportunities can take the form of:
- Strategic Alliance - when two or more people/companies work together to pursue an agreed upon goal while remaining independent of each other. For example, if you worked with another expert to co-run a podcast, create a training program or a live-streaming show.
- Joint Venture Partner (JVP) - when two or more people/companies come together to form a temporary partnership for the purpose of completing a specific event or project. For example, when a group of related experts get together to run a tele-seminar or conference.
- Referral Partner - a person/company that sends relevant prospective leads to you, and you to them, because you offer complimentary services to similar audiences. For example, if you're a copywriter you might set up a referral partnership with a graphic designer or website company.
EXAMPLE ACTION: Set a goal to find and approach at least one potential referral partner a month.
Collaboration: The 3 Cs of LinkedIn Currency
As I explained in my earlier article, LinkedIn Currency: Calculating The Value of Your Network, understanding and implementing the 3 C's of LinkedIn Currency is crucial to your success in building a strong and valuable network, and understanding the actual value of that network in measurable and unmeasurable ways.
We examined the three key elements of Community in LinkedIn Currency: Build an Engaged & Profitable Community that you must include when building a network that will be engaged and wants and needs what you have to offer. In my next article, we'll look into why none of the other aspects of LinkedIn Currency can achieve maximum success without the final C, Commitment.
Would you like to significantly impact the size of your expanded LinkedIn Network? Send me a PERSONALIZED connection request mentioning this article (it is very unlikely I will accept your request if it is not personalized!). By doing this you will greatly expand you 2nd and 3rd degree networks.