While it is a little more challenging to build relationships that will turn into referrals and new clients today due to social distancing, it is not impossible by any means. It just requires us to pivot what we were doing before the pandemic (such as taking clients and prospects to lunch or events, going to in-person networking events and conferences). It involves shifting to doing more thought leadership and relying on social media and webinars.

These tools can help you cast an even wider net on your marketing and business development efforts than before due to the vast reach of the social platforms. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate these tools into your marketing and business development strategy and turn your connections into new business and referrals.

  • For every first-degree connection you add to your LinkedIn network, you instantly gain hundreds of second-degree connections and thousands of third-degree connections. And, if one of your connections likes one of your posts, their connections have the potential to see that update. This is one reason why is it so important to actively add connections rather than to just sit back and accept connection requests from others.
  • Build online rapport and relationships by following people you admire on Twitter, retweeting their content, liking and commenting on their statuses. Do the same on LinkedIn with their content and status updates. Supporting others helps you build a strong network.​
  • If you are on a group Zoom happy hour or networking event, screenshot the participant list so you can connect with each person afterwards on LinkedIn. ​
  • Groups are a great way to expand your network on LinkedIn. They have gained traction since the pandemic and give you access to many other business professionals who are interested in the same topics as you. ​
  • The advanced search tool on LinkedIn is another great way to strategically expand your network. Use LinkedIn filters to search by keyword, for example, job title, location, company, school and Premium LinkedIn accounts enable you to conduct more searches, search parameters and saved searches; however, you still can get some of these benefits with a free LinkedIn account.​
  • Staying top of mind is the key to success on LinkedIn. Provide status updates on a regular basis. It keeps you visible to the people in your network.​
  • Become a member of key industry groups on LinkedIn where you can find like-minded professionals and share content that establishes you as a subject matter expert and expands your network. Perhaps most importantly, belonging to a group instantly grants you access to sending connection invites to every other member within that group.
  • Request to join the alumni groups of any of your former places of employment and reconnect with former colleagues with whom you’ve lost touch who are also members of those groups. Each time you add a company to your list of prior jobs in your profile, you automatically follow that company but not its accompanying alumni group. So, you’ll need to manually find the corresponding alumni group and request membership.
  • Like and comment on LinkedIn posts that you think are valuable and share the posts with your connections and in your groups.​
  • Review your connections’ connections. Whom do they know that you know? This is why it’s a good idea to link in with colleagues and former colleagues so that you can see their connections and then add them to your network.
  • Consider connecting with certain friends and family members. We often overlook mixing our personal and professional lives and we shouldn’t—oftentimes this is a source of potential business opportunities.
  • Connect with anyone who engages with your content or content in which you’re mentioned.
  • Connect with anyone who follows you. Note that a “follow” is different than connecting—an individual can choose to follow you (without connecting to you), depending on your settings, in order to receive your posts. I always take it a step further and invite someone to join my network if they’ve elected to follow me.
  • Utilize the “People You May Know” feature. The more you use it and choose to connect with the potential connections it suggests for you (based on your connections’ connections, past education, employers, education and interests), the more targeted your future connection suggestions will be.
  • Curate content from news sources you trust—this is a great way to ease the burden on having to create a piece of content. You can instead scour news sources such as Forbes, Fortune, the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company or the Huffington Post and add introductory content saying why you think it is valuable and expressing your point of view about the piece you’re sharing.​
  • Regularly write content that is valuable to your connections and share it on social media with brief introductory text on why they should read it. Consider highlighting a few key points in your synopsis to catch their attention and always use an eye-catching visual to accompany your post.​
  • Be generous—like and share others’ posts and congratulate others on their successes, especially your VIP connections. While they may not be ready to hire you at this moment, they will likely be in that position in the future.

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