Your success on LinkedIn lies in your ability to build strong and meaningful relationships with the connections that have potential to introduce you and spread positive word-of-mouth. We can’t put it more simply than that. Just being connected isn’t good enough. You have to develop a healthy relationship with your connections.
The good news is, this is really quite simple. It means activating the law of reciprocity by helping others.
Gary Vaynerchuk, author of numerous bestsellers, speaker, and successful entrepreneur, recently wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal discussing his personal secret to networking. He states, “I’ve learned the true secret to networking is gaining the first-mover’s advantage: leverage. The right kind of leverage in a relationship allows you to extract value over time. How does one acquire that kind of leverage? Be the first person in the relationship to provide value.”
There are many ways to position yourself as a Giver with your LinkedIn connections. It all boils down to each individual connection and what that particular person values most. Do they value networking support? Small gifts? Information? Time? Your objective is to figure out what your key relationships value, and then deliver. Here are a few ways to become a Giver.
Give LinkedIn Introductions
Why not give your clients and COIs exactly what you are seeking? If your connections are actively trying to grow their own businesses, offer to introduce them to others in your network that they may benefit from meeting. From our social media research study we found that 79.7 percent of Influencers have offered to introduce one of their LinkedIn connections to another user (Fig. 1).
This can be as simple as saying:
Mrs. Client, I’ve built a robust network on LinkedIn. I have some people in my network who can provide expertise in everything from refinancing your mortgage to renovating your kitchen. If I can ever introduce you, I would be happy to. Just let me know how I can help.
By the way, if the client or COI has children who are about to graduate from college or are job hunting, offer to introduce that child to select members of your LinkedIn network. We’ve seen multiple advisors do this and the feedback from their clients and COIs has been off the charts.
Little things mean a lot in terms of giving. Sending helpful articles and resources is another way to be a Giver. Be sure to include a note explaining why you felt it would be pertinent for your connection. The articles don’t always have to be business-related. If your connection is interested in gardening or cooking, send an article on those subjects.
Give Your Social Time
This is appropriate for the 1st degree connections with whom you are interested in building a social relationship.Perhaps they would appreciate you taking them out to dinner or for a round of golf. Investing time to socialize is a great way to develop advocates who are willing to introduce you. Not to mention, our Affluent research shows that their willingness to introduce you increases significantly if you maintain business and social relationships. As noted previously, 71 percent of Affluent investors are willing to introduce you if you have both a business and a social relationship.
Give Verbal Affirmations
We all love being praised. Givers give praise. It’s easy to give praise on LinkedIn by liking and making positive comments on your connections’ posts. You can also do it in person. If you are in conversation, show that you are truly listening. Most people like to talk about themselves, and want to know they are being heard.
Give Small, Thoughtful Gifts
We call this “Surprise and Delight.” Think “coffee table book.” What coffee table books would your 1st degree connections like? This forces you to focus on their passions. For instance, if your client or COI is a Chicago Bears fanatic, buy them a book on Mike Ditka.If the COI received an award that was recognized in the newspaper, frame it for them. The gifts should be small, but personalized and thoughtful. The less expensive the gift, the less your motives are questioned.
Our research shows that Elite Advisors give Surprise and Delight gifts on a regular basis, with 72 percent claiming to Surprise and Delight top clients yearly or more (Table 1).
Develop a strategy to regularly add value to your 1st degree connections in a distinctive way.After all, they are the fastest and most effective gateway to potential new clients. Your goal is to develop connectionswho are eager to introduce you to others in their LinkedIn networks. When in doubt, you can always ask your 1st degree connections one key phrase: How can I help you? Now that is the mindset of a Giver!
Kevin Nichols and Stephen Boswell are thought-leaders with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. www.oechsli.com.