A few well-spent minutes can help you connect with new clients.
With the advent of the pandemic, virtual networking has taken on new significance. Without the ability to connect in person or get together for dinner or drinks, LinkedIn is filling the gap. In the time it takes for an actual handshake, you can be on your way to increasing your network and connecting with new clients every day. Here’s how.
Your LinkedIn profile and summary are crucial to attracting new business through LinkedIn. These are the first two things people see on your profile and a well-written summary can mean the difference between scoring that new connection or not.
Your profile photo should be a high-resolution headshot, well-lit with professional attire. Stay away from action shots, full-length photos, selfies, or photos that don’t fit well in the LinkedIn 400 x 400 dimensions. While you may not be able to get to a professional photographer’s studio, study competitors’ headshots and have someone at home take a photo on their phone. Pro tip: iPhone’s “portrait” setting is excellent for this purpose.
Next, while it might seem unimportant, your background photo can actually tell a lot to a potential client – fast. The background banner photo sits behind your profile photo and it’s a chance to add another layer to the story of who you are and what you can offer. If you are just getting started in your field and don’t have a lot of experience, use a background photo of you and your team to add credibility and weight to your profile. Use it to tout a recent mention in the press or other win, or offer an inspirational quote that gives a window into who you are and what you believe in. Another way to use it is to showcase what you are passionate about outside of work – use an appropriate and professional action shot and connect with clients through mutual interest. Website canva.com has tons of free images and templates if you get stuck here.
Summaries are where the action happens. Clients want to know what you bring to the table, what makes you tick, and even what you are passionate about outside of your business. Write as if you are telling a story about who you are, what successes you’ve had in the past and how you can help potential new clients. Stay away from jargon and business lingo and instead write how you speak. Ask a colleague to read your draft before you post and offer feedback. Real, authentic and relatable are the qualities you want to impart here.
Don’t forget the all-important keywords that LinkedIn will use to match you with potential connections. Find five to 10 that resonate with your industry through a quick Google search or cherry-picking through related job descriptions. Sprinkle these throughout your summary.
Finally, to pump up your inbound leads, consider adding a call to action to the end of your summary. Phrases like “I specialize in working with” or “Call me if you are interested in” help clarify exactly what you do, and who you can help.
Once you’ve optimized your profile, it’s time for the LinkedIn challenge. This 10-minute practice is specifically designed so you don’t waste valuable time getting lost in a social media rabbit hole. Keep it targeted and turn on a timer to keep yourself honest.
News feed – first minute: The LinkedIn news feed is the middle portion of the page. This is where everyone in your network’s posts are visible. Sort posts by recent activity, and look for career milestones and awards or someone featured in an article, welcoming a grandchild, getting married, etc. Comment and like or reach out via direct message to say congratulations.
You can take it a step further – and beyond the one minute – by creating an IRL touchpoint. For that connection who just had a grandchild, click on their profile, find out where they went to college, and order a baby onesie from their alma mater. Or send an email gift certificate for a congratulatory box of chocolates to that connection who just got a new job.
My network – 2 to 3 minutes: Go to My Network and see everyone who has sent you a link to connect. Who meets your ideal client criteria? Is there someone there you haven’t connected with in a long time who might now be an ideal client? And pro tip – don’t accept everyone who requests a connection – keep it focused so you don’t clutter your feed.
Notifications – 2 to 3 minutes: Go to the toolbar and look for the bell icon. This is a quick list of birthdays, new jobs, likes and comments and a great way to find reasons to reach out and re-engage with potential clients. Pro tip: If you are short on time, skip ahead to this step as it is the biggest bang for your buck.
Meeting prep – 5 minutes: Look at your calendar for the next few weeks. What meetings or calls do you have coming up? Pull up the names of everyone you are meeting with and if you are not connected yet, do so. Look at their work experience and connections. Is there anyone in their network you’d like to connect with? Make a note to ask for an introduction during your next meeting.
Sources: fastcompany.com; lindseypollak.com; wsj.com; linkedin.com; businesslinkedin.com