When you get those “invitations to connect” on LinkedIn, Plaxo, Ryze and other business networking sites, do you ignore them?
If so, you should re-think your strategy. Turns out, those sites can be a powerful tool for keeping your prospect pipeline full and staying connected with your clients.
One reason they’re so effective at generating leads is because they provide an easy, efficient way to build a network of hundreds – even thousands – of connections. And, unlike sites like MySpace, business networking sites don’t force you to put up with page after page of videos, music and party photos to get the information you need.
You do need to take the time to set up your own profile (more information is always better). But once you do, building your network is as easy as clicking a button to launch a search of your email contacts for other members, then clicking again to send them a connection invitation. Once they accept, you have access to their connections as well as your own.
You can also search for prospects based on a range of characteristics including job title, location, etc. Once you find them, you can request a connection (some sites place limits on connection requests unless you pay a membership fee). If they accept, your pipeline just got a little fuller.
Even better, if you and your prospects have any common connections, you can ask for an electronic introduction. It’s much easier than asking them to pick up the phone or write an email or letter – just a few clicks you’ve been introduced by a mutual acquaintance.
Like any tool, business networking sites are only as good as the user. To get the most from your profile, you need to keep your information updated and make it a point to visit the site frequently to see what new prospects might have joined since your last visit.
You also need to start accepting those connection invitations.