When using social media for business, having a well-established audience is crucial to success. You could be posting interesting and engaging updates regularly, but if nobody sees them you won’t get much in return.
Growing your connections on social media means that more people will see your updates, which will help to increase the reach and exposure of your business.
On LinkedIn, growing your connections has another benefit. When using the LinkedIn search function, the results you see are based on your connections. The first few pages of search results are dominated by your 1st and 2nd degree connections – people you’re either directly connected to, or you share a connection with. So if you want to be found on LinkedIn by potential customers, it pays to expand your network.
But growing your social network can be difficult. Simply sending hundreds of LinkedIn connection requests, or following tonnes of Twitter accounts in the hope they’ll follow back, won’t yield much success.
This post will provide you with eight tips to encourage people to connect with you across the various social platforms – particularly LinkedIn and Twitter – so that your outreach attempts don’t fall on deaf ears.
1. Look at your own profile
If somebody you don’t know tries to connect with you on social media, you’ll probably look at their profile before deciding if you want to accept the request. So it makes perfect sense that people will be doing the same to you.
Is your profile complete? Does it have your details on – job title, areas of expertise, company, location? If not, expect to be rejected. Honesty and transparency are important on social media. Be clear about who you are so that people can see why the connection request is relevant to them, and they’re more likely to accept you.
Having a clear, professional photo will also boost your chances of success. On LinkedIn, listing qualifications and awards helps to build trust and demonstrate that you’re an expert in your field. Endorsements and recommendations also build social proof – try to gather some of these.
2. Think about your updates
What have you posted recently? Are your updates relevant to your industry and the people you’re trying to connect with? If you’re attempting to build a certain area of the business, post a few updates relating to this before reaching out to new people. When they look at your profile, you’ll appear as a connection worth having.
If you don’t post updates regularly, start doing so now! People are far less likely to connect with an inactive profile.
When using social media for business, always bear in mind the 80/20 rule. Constantly posting about your own products and services can be off-putting. You should aim to spend 80% of your time posting updates that aren’t directly related to your products or services, but which your connections will find useful and interesting. The remaining 20% can be used to promote your business.
3. Engage with others
If you follow somebody on Twitter, and want them to return the favour, try engaging with their updates so that they become aware of you.
Consider doing this before you follow them, so that when they see the notification pop up saying you have started following them, they’ll be more likely to follow back straight away.
If somebody engages with you, perhaps by commenting on one of your updates, always respond. Show that you’re active on social media and willing to engage with people. This will encourage more people to do the same in future.
4. Personalise your connection requests
This isn’t possible on every social platform, but on LinkedIn you have the opportunity to send a personal message with your connection requests. Never send a generic message. Always tailor it to the individual. Why do you want to connect? How could the connection be relevant? What benefit could you bring to them?
5. Join and build communities
Join in with a Twitter chat relevant to your industry, or host one yourself. Read our handy guide on how to do this here. On Facebook and LinkedIn, join industry groups or create your own. Browse through your groups regularly and contribute to the discussion.
On LinkedIn, if you share group membership with another user, you can send them a connection request stating that you have this in common – a clear reason why they should want to connect with you!
6. Promote your profiles
Make it as easy as possible for people to connect with you by promoting your various social media profiles. A good way to do this is to include links to your profiles in your email signature and on your business cards.
When dealing with people you already know and work with, don’t be afraid to ask for connections. The easiest way to grow your audience in the beginning is by starting with people you already know.
7. Add keywords to your profiles
Your social media profiles are searchable, so be sure to include your most important keywords somewhere. In your Twitter bio, include the areas you work in and the topics that interest you. On LinkedIn, use the summary section of your profile to do the same.
Not only will this ensure you appear in the search results for more users, but the people you send connection requests to will instantly be able to see how your profile is relevant to them. Like this example from RAL Display:
8. Measure – Analyse – Refine
Use the analytics functions within each social network to see how your audience is growing. How many new followers on Twitter have you gained this month? How many new connections on LinkedIn?
Also monitor the engagement your updates received. Figure out what worked and what didn’t, and use this to inform your strategy. Constantly refining your social media strategy is important to stay relevant.
To be successful, you should actively grow your social media connections, rather than leaving it to happen naturally. The good news is, this should get easier – the more connections you have, the greater the social proof that you are somebody worth connecting with!