Today I’m going to share with you some advice for approaching clients on LinkedIn as a startup. You may be asking “What is LinkedIn and why should I use it as a startup?”. The short answer is that LinkedIn is the leading professional social network in the world, used by tens of millions of people. When I started using LinkedIn as a business network, I didn’t even have a business. Here’s what I did differently when starting a small business.
First of all, don’t try to sell your business to your contacts on LinkedIn. As a startup, you’d want to approach customers on a more personal level. Most customers will be impressed when you tell them that you’re working with a “closing finance” schedule and that you’ve got a few clients left. However, if you tell your contacts that you’re planning to build a manufacturing facility in St. Louis and you’ve got several open offices, it doesn’t look like you’re networking with them. So keep this information to yourself.
Secondly, when you do contact clients on LinkedIn, you’ll want to focus on having a one-on-one conversation. Ask them how their business is doing. Then ask them how you can help them. Do this even after your initial conversation. Let your contacts know that you value their opinion (even if they don’t buy).
Thirdly, you want to make sure to give your clients plenty of information about themselves. This can include pictures, bios, and websites. However, be careful not to give too much information or else you may appear like a spammer. It is OK to mention that you have similar interests and goals to what your clients have.
And finally, you can’t let your prospects call you unless they want to. Don’t fall for fancy marketing lines and don’t talk about having an open mind. It’s fine for your clients to talk to you about various options. But when they want to contact you, let them.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be contacting your clients for your own reasons, of course. That’s what marketing is for. However, when networking on LinkedIn with your clients, keep the above tips in mind. The goal is to become an important part of their online world. Don’t clutter it with lots of unnecessary information.
In other words, be patient. Don’t try to “pimp” your page or use a lot of flashy graphics or marketing jargon. Instead, focus on being genuine and natural. That will immediately earn you their trust and loyalty. Once they see that you’re a real person, they’ll be more likely to buy from you.
As a business owner, one of the most powerful aspects of having your own business is having a way to approach your clients. This can be extremely difficult, especially if you’re working from home. Using LinkedIn as a startup tool can help you with that approach.
Many people shy away from using networking as part of their overall business plan. If you feel that you have some skills and experience that can be valuable to potential clients, by all means take advantage of that. However, networking shouldn’t be a primary focus of your career or personal life. Even if you are passionate about something, it’s still a good idea to leave the networking to others. Networking requires some time and effort.
It’s also important to remember that networking is only valuable if you’re able to get in front of potential clients and introduce yourself. Introducing yourself in a personal way lets them know that you’re there for them and that you think the business they’re looking for could work well for them. In other words, show them you’re there first and then offer your business.
You’ll also want to pick up on any of the client’s needs. Perhaps they need a little more training or they want to talk to a consultant. Whatever it is, figure out what you can do to help. Don’t be afraid to offer your expertise if needed. Just make sure you have enough knowledge to really help the clients and not make them feel like you’re there to do their paperwork.
Finally, always be positive. A startup wants to build a positive reputation with their clients. They want to look forward to hiring them instead of dreading the idea of having to deal with an unhappy client. So, always stay positive and don’t take any negative feedback to heart. If a client says something sucks, tell them that’s the last thing you’re going to do. You’re much better off sticking to the facts and helping the client find a solution to their problem.