An interesting thing happened when I posted to LinkedIn every weekday for a month.
I also tweeted a few of my shorter posts. One of them was about knowing when someone has true leadership skills.
This was one of my learnings: tweet every LinkedIn post and article. But a bigger learning was still to come.
In sharing this particular post, I expressed thanks for the great bosses and leaders I’ve had to far in my career. And I asked “what leaders have inspired you and why?”
While I follow the best practice of asking a question in posts and tweets, I must confess they don’t usually generate much engagement.
But this time was different. To my surprise and delight, a colleague responded by singing the praises of one of our other colleagues. She did it in wonderful detail, mentioning specific leadership traits in an enthusiastic and engaging way.
Soon, the other colleague joined the dialogue, with thanks and good humor. All in all, it was a pleasant way to connect with people who are in my network but separated by busy work schedules and a 3-hour plane ride.
The even better part? I had an upcoming meeting with the colleague getting the accolades. I knew the conversation might be difficult due to the sensitivity of the subject. And our LinkedIn-inspired conversation in Twitter added a more upbeat tone to our working relationship.
(This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)
And it was in a positive and pure way, because my intention was simply to share valuable leadership content with my network.
This underscores the importance of giving in social media – without the expectation of getting. Because you never know how others in your network will respond and what good outcomes may happen.
But what if you want to be a little more strategic and focused in creating a stronger business relationship through LinkedIn?
Who are the important people in navigating your career – now and in the future?
And how can social media add to your efforts to build a positive, long-term relationship?
Once you’ve identified a few people to build stronger relationships with, here’s how you can use LinkedIn to add to your efforts.
If you’re not already connected on LinkedIn, send a personalized request. Remember, always personalize your request. Remind the person of how you know each other and why you’d like to connect.
- If it’s your boss, say you’d like to connect because of your reporting relationship.
- If it’s a peer, mention a common goal or project you’re working on.
- If it’s someone in a function beyond yours, share your interest in learning more about what they do.
- If it’s someone on a project team, share your enthusiasm for your work together.
- If it’s someone more senior to you, talk about a key project they’re working on that you’re following in the news.
See what connections you have in common. Which connections intrigued and surprised you? Can you come up with a hypothesis as to how they know each other? This might be important later when you’re engaging with content.
Is there anyone you expected to see, but didn’t? Is there anyone in your network who might be valuable for this person to know? Consider making an introduction at the appropriate time.
Observe their articles and posts. View their current content and look at past content for the last 3 to 6 months.
What topics are they posting on? How do those relate to your current work or your future interest? What kind of reach and engagement are their posts generating?
Like, comment on and share their content. Once a week, like a post or an article and leave a substantive comment. Mention the person by name so they’ll receive a notification of your comment.
Thinking back to who it might be helpful for this person to know, see if you can mention and weave that person into the comment, if the subject matter lends itself to it.
Here’s where you can help augment the reach of your connection’s content. Share it with your network, if it’s aligned with the types of content you share. Mention the person by name so they’re notified of the share, and add your perspective to the content. End with a question to invite more engagement.
See what groups they belong to. Do you have any groups in common? If so, engaging with content in that group could help build your relationship.
Do they belong to any groups you’d like to learn more about? If so, you could message your connection and ask them for their thoughts on the the group and their advice on engaging with it.
Focus on giving and keep it light. Be generous. Think more about how you can give and how you can help your connection.
In doing that, keep it light. Your interactions should be just frequent enough – no more than once a week or every few weeks – so they’ll appreciate hearing from you.
Don’t stalk your connection by interacting with them too often. Keep your interactions interesting and insightful.
What are ways you build a stronger business relationship on LinkedIn?