Business owners are driven. They chase what they want and take charge of their future. They dedicate so much of their time, energy, and resources to making a living that they often forget to create a life.
Business owners aren’t making time for friends, and face-to-face networking hasn’t been easy in recent times. Isolation is against human nature, and feelings of loneliness can have very real, very devastating impacts on a person’s mental health.
R U OK Day reminds the vibrant business owner community to proactively seek comradeship. As events and workplaces transition to a remote or hybrid model, LinkedIn becomes the new watercooler or co-working space. Through meaningful interaction, you can feel in sync with the business world and part of something bigger.
The value of a LinkedIn network
LinkedIn rewards conversation. That helps you in two ways.
First, it gives you access to referral partners. Interactions on the social platform demonstrate expertise and build trust, paving the way for referral opportunities. You can pass business on to members of your network, and, in return, they can pass business on to you. Win-win.
Second, LinkedIn fosters connection. Who better to share your struggles and successes with than other business owners? Who better to turn to for advice or feedback? Everyone wants to feel understood and seen.
How to build a meaningful LinkedIn network
The spray-gun approach doesn’t work. If you want to win referrals and find genuine connections, you need to curate a strategic network of professionals who could advocate for your business and carry your content.
The people you need may not come to you – you should be trying to find them. How? By using LinkedIn’s highly targeted search functions. You can search people by who you know, who they know, what city and country they’re in, the industries they work in, their job title, who their employers are, and by keyword.
How to nurture genuine relationships
Finding the right people to connect with is only step one. To get the most out of your LinkedIn network – both in terms of referrals and a sense of belonging – you must engage authentically with your connections. Here are four ways to do that.
1. Personalise your connection requests
Failing to personalise your connection requests is like putting your business card in someone’s pocket without saying anything and walking swiftly away. It’s a poor first impression and a rocky start to a relationship – personal or professional.
Instead, let the person know why you want to connect with them. Do you have mutual connections? Do they operate in the same industry as you? Find common ground and use that as a starting point.
2. Publish posts and comments
You wouldn’t stand silently in a corner at an in-person business networking event, so don’t shy away from the conversation on LinkedIn, either. Publish posts that demonstrate how you solve your clients’ problems and be generous with the information you give away.
Comment on other people’s posts, too. Attention is the greatest gift you can give, so show people in your network that they are worth your time. Avoid generic two-word comments. The effort you put in will repay dividends.
3. Facilitate introductions via private messages
Just like sending an email, you can directly message one or more people on LinkedIn. Use this feature to refer business to a member of your network or introduce two people who you believe could benefit one another in some way.
Be generous with your introductions and explain what their common interests are and why you’re facilitating the introduction.
4. Send voice messages
Online communication is typically written, which means you have the time and space to consider your words before hitting send. However, your writing may not capture the unique character of your personality – that’s where voice messages come into play.
You can send short recordings of your voice as a message to your connections. It’s a warm, highly personalised way to communicate and can help strengthen your bond with the receiver.
Finding connection online on R U OK day – and beyond
Humans are social creatures, and in today’s digital world, you must actively reach out, connect, and nurture your business relationships. LinkedIn gives you the tools you need to foster real, meaningful connections with fellow business owners, so you can ease your sense of isolation and experience those spontaneous touchpoints that, once upon a time, we took for granted.