Why Networking on LinkedIn is More Important Than Ever
Though many B2B organizations have been slow to fully embrace social media as a lead generation tool, shifting consumer preferences and the global pandemic have made it a much more viable networking solution.
While business-to-consumer-focused organizations navigate social media platforms with ease, it’s thought that business-to-business platforms have more difficulty advertising and generating leads across social media. This is because the social nature of these platforms is focused on what users are doing in their lives and the products they trust and use most, rather than business-related conversations.
However, the modern economic landscape is especially marked by an increased consumer-focus on organizational trust. And consumers are looking at what brands are doing across all platforms and paying attention to organizational behaviors both in action and through word-of-mouth. This has led many B2B organizations to adopt tactics on social media to meet customers where they live, using more organic and lifestyle-focused advertising to drive traffic back to their website.
One social media platform that has been extensively experimented upon with mixed results by B2B service providers is LinkedIn. With consumer habits shifting in the wake of COVID-19, it follows that businesses should also shift their approach. That’s where we feel that networking on LinkedIn can be one of the most powerful and important components to a B2B operation’s marketing strategy in 2021. In this discussion, we’re going to guide you through how to network on LinkedIn effectively, how to locate networking events and opportunities, and the value your organization can gain from leveraging these networking opportunities.
How to Network on LinkedIn Effectively
LinkedIn is a unique social media platform. Users largely leave out the personal aspects of their lives in their posts but instead focus on building communities and connecting with individuals in the same or related industries. Because users focus more on business needs and accomplishments, the LinkedIn landscape can be seen as the perfect environment in which to make connections on several levels.
Create a Profile That Invites Others to Connect With You
The networks and connections users create on Facebook are often with friends, family members, close academic connections, and other people with similar interests or hobbies. While it is a useful platform for businesses to connect with consumers, you don’t often see people reaching out to create connections between organizations. On LinkedIn, however, the connections users are seeking to make are with other professionals. This requires a business-like approach to creating a LinkedIn profile that doesn’t have the same utility or impact on other platforms.
Building an optimized profile on LinkedIn targeted at attracting contacts requires a similar SEO-optimization strategy used in building websites and content posts, with yourself as the brand you’re trying to make more visible in searches. There are three primary ways you can leverage search engine behavior to increase connections on LinkedIn:
Use keywords in the descriptions of your work experience much as you would in a resume. This will show that you have an understanding of what’s important in the industries in which you’ve worked.
Connect with alumni groups and professional organizations to which you are a member to appear next to your peers when people are looking to connect with individuals similar to yourself.
Write your biographical “About” section in a way that highlights not only what you do, but the types of connections you’d like to make or the types of relationships you’re seeking out on the platform.
Subscribe to the UpCity Blog
Focus on Building Relationships not Only Within Your Industry but Also Within the Industries of Your Buyer Personas
As you navigate LinkedIn, several mechanisms are working behind the scenes to help identify the right people for you to connect with. Much of this is based on the roles you have had in your past and present work experience. There’s also a related search component that actively works to connect individuals who might be seeking certain services or types of businesses.
In this sense, much of the network building that takes place on LinkedIn is not only about connecting with peers to improve your skills and knowledge, but also to connect with potential customers. You can even use this information to inform and guide your marketing team’s efforts to refine your buyer personas. If you have a target market that isn’t seeking you out on LinkedIn, while another subset of potential customers is interacting with your posts and requesting to connect, there might be a pivot necessary in your organization’s overall strategy.
Create Content That Proves the Value of Connecting With You
Networking in the modern social media landscape is an extension of consumer behaviors. Consumers spend a large portion of their time online focused on seeking out value-imbued content that helps to solve problems and show the value a brand might have in their daily lives. Because people want to feel that their organizations are equally informed and connecting with other professionals with similar values, they seek out the same level of quality content on appropriate social media channels.
LinkedIn offers a platform for professionals to post articles and other types of informational content ranging from product descriptions to event announcements. These pieces of content can be targeted to specific audiences and used to build valuable relationships with both peers and potential clients. In either case, a steady stream of content on LinkedIn helps build your credibility as a valuable contact who might be able to facilitate a business relationship between organizations.
How to Find Networking Events on LinkedIn
While there are benefits in organically building up your community across LinkedIn, there are also tools and strategies for actively seeking out networking opportunities.
Search for Networking Events
You can find mentions of events where you can connect with peers and potential clients by using LinkedIn’s integrated search function. Searching the site’s postings and articles for mentions of “networking events,” quoted and unquoted to adjust the specificity of the search, you’ll be able to see both specific events and mentions of individuals attending such events. By looking into the different events listed or posts about the events, you can identify attendees and opportunities to make inroads into organizations with which you might not have other opportunities to do business.
Follow Organizations and Individuals You Want to Connect With On LinkedIn
Depending on the size of organizations with which you’re looking to connect, they might be signaling their networking activities on their own pages and posts. Whether you connect immediately, it’s a good idea to follow the activities of organizations with whom you’d like to be doing business to identify opportunities to connect. This can be especially timely when those individuals post about needing specific information or if they are seeking out opportunities to expand their services.
Leverage the Networks of Your Existing Connections
The beauty of the connections that you create on LinkedIn is that you’re able to message your network directly to allow them to help you expand your reach. As long as you are creating genuine connections on LinkedIn, where you’ve provided value and information, your connections will be more willing to open up contacts within their own networks to communicating with you on a business level.
The Value of LinkedIn Networking in 2021
Having to navigate day-to-day operations throughout much of 2020 and the start of 2021 remotely across Zoom calls and other online mediums, we’re all feeling a little lonely in the workplace by this point. We all want a return to normalcy and face-to-face networking opportunities, but there’s much uncertainty in the months ahead. One of the most powerful things we can do in the months ahead is the continued use of social media platforms to build and strengthen interpersonal relationships. Building and interacting with your community on LinkedIn’s platform, which is inherently built around facilitating such connections, should be a central component of your weekly routine. To learn more about networking under challenging conditions and other B2B strategies, follow the UpCity blog for more postings on how to build and improve your professional networks.