Optimize LinkedIn to Build Business Connections
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
With almost 740 million members and over 55 million registered companies, LinkedIn’s professional social networking possibilities give retail dietitians plenty of opportunity to foster business relationships. In fact, engaging with this platform for only a few minutes a week can have a positive impact on your work. Follow these tips for making connections on LinkedIn so you can benefit from this strong B2B network.
Create a meaningful profile. Use your profile description to truly communicate who you are. Include a professional headshot, your name, credentials, contact information, and enough work history to establish your expertise. The details you provide should be memorable to those visiting your profile and let other businesses and professionals see that they should connect with you as part of their network.
Initiate Connections. Reach out to co-workers, former colleagues, other retail dietitians, community health professionals, food companies, commodity groups and potential clients. You should also look for individuals to connect with at in-person or virtual events. When you do connect with someone, LinkedIn will offer up a list of people who you might know which provide more networking opportunities. Follow the trail of suggested connections to view profiles and link to those individuals and potential business partners you may not have found on your own.
Don’t be afraid to reject. The quantity of your connections is definitely not as important as the quality on LinkedIn. Take time to review and reject invitations to connect from people who do not align with your business purpose and goals. No one needs a list of unnecessary connections that offer you nothing in return.
Be kind and personalize what you post. Personalizing the messages you send to potential contacts increases your chances for growing your network successfully. Let new contacts know how your work may be connected and why you want them as part of your network. Provide personal notes about past work experiences or trips you shared, discuss similar interests or if you belong to some of the same professional groups like RDBA. And it goes without saying, but always be polite. Use appropriate acknowledgements and address people by name. Also, if someone accepts your invitation to connect, provides a recommendation/endorsement, or offers any helpful advice, make sure to express your gratitude.
Join groups and actively participate. One of the best ways to develop new contacts on LinkedIn is to join groups that represent associations and topics related to your business and interests. Once you join, be active by sharing your opinions and business resources in a helpful, professional, and friendly manner. As you get to know individual in your groups, you can connect with them through their individual profiles or follow their company pages to explore future business opportunities.