As the coronavirus crunch continues, business leaders are discovering they have more time on their hands than usual. The good news is there are still plenty of low-cost, high-impact activities you can do that will put your company in a strong position to bounce back when regular trading resumes.
In this article, I’ll discuss how to grow your network and establish credibility within your industry using LinkedIn. This is a tactic we’ve used at Red Flag Alert over the last couple of years, and we’ve seen a significant increase in leads gained through the platform.
First, Build Your Network
Growing your online network is highly beneficial, but can be time-consuming. Now is the perfect time to increase your online activities.
The first step is identifying the most valuable people to connect with. Look at your current contacts to see what type of customer typically uses your service and search for companies that share these key characteristics. Then, identify the people who make buying decisions at these businesses.
LinkedIn is the perfect tool for reaching out to people you haven’t already been introduced to and is widely accepted as a platform for business networking. While people may not respond to an email or a phone call from a stranger, they are likely to accept a connection request.
When making requests, the key is to send personalised messages (don’t spam) and include useful information.
At Red Flag Alert, I’ve found that a message with the following tone works well: “During this hiatus, we’re focused on producing articles and content that may be of interest to you. Best wishes at this time.”
Having a real-life commonality – such as knowing the same people, having attended the same school, or worked for the same company – can also increase the likeliness that your request will be successful. It’s also important to ensure you have a professional profile that makes clear what you do.
Red Flag Alert has a LinkedIn integration – this allows you to find key decision-makers at target customers and then open their LinkedIn profile in just one click.
Next, Increase Your Credibility and Authority
Once you have begun to build your network, you can take steps to increase your exposure and build credibility.
Here are three types of content I frequently share:
Articles are a great way to comment on industry trends and demonstrate your expertise. They can also be interesting conversation starters, which make them a useful relationship-building tool. A good story takes time and effort to create, although we typically find that the investment is worth it.
Alongside contributing to the Red Flag Alert blog, I also guest post in other publications to build my audience. Many publications are open to guest posts because they need diverse, high-quality content to attract readers.
Company updates are easy to do and help to inform your audience about what’s happening in your business. Be sure to tag any relevant parties and use the correct hashtags to increase the exposure of your posts.
Updates like this one, when Red Flag Alert was featured on Sky News, lend significant credibility to your brand.
Sharing Third-Party Content
If you don’t have the time to create your own posts, sharing content that others have produced can be an effective way to interact with your network.
Simply find a relevant article someone has written and post it to your timeline. Be sure to include a short comment or introduction to let your audience know why you are publishing the story. Interacting with third-party content is an excellent way to show others you are plugged into the industry.
It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t stop at posting content. Be sure to communicate with people who comment on the things you share. Also, spend some time engaging with other people’s content if you see something that catches your eye on your timeline.
Track Your Progress with the LinkedIn Social Selling Index Score
Don’t worry if you’re unsure about how effective your networking efforts are. LinkedIn uses what it calls the Social Selling Index, which can tell you how well you’re building your brand. This feature considers the people you connect with and how you interact with them on the platform when calculating your score.
SSI is not perfect, and it is possible to have a low score but still use LinkedIn effectively. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting way to see how your authority is increasing and what steps you can take to improve the way you use it.
The Red Flag Alert COVID-19 Playbook
At Red Flag Alert we’ve spent the last few weeks speaking to sales leaders all over the UK to find out what their priorities are during this challenging time. We’ve published the findings in a report titled The Red Flag Alert COVID-19 Playbook.
In the book I’ve authored a section on the ten priorities that sales and marketing leaders can focus on during lockdown. We hope this will enable companies to build better sales machines that will help them to emerge from lockdown in an even stronger position than before.
To get your copy click here.