If you’re looking to make important business connections, LinkedIn has to be one of the social media platform you use as a Virtual Assistant. 

When you are employed, we all believe that LinkedIn is the tool that will get us headhunted for that amazing PAYE role, and so you’ll find recruiters using LinkedIn to find job candidates; CEOs looking to grow their influence and build trust with buyers; and solopreneurs (just like you) looking for freelancers to build their dream team.

In short, in the world of business relationships, you just never know who you’ll meet that will possibly send you your most ideal paying client, so growing your network steadily and consistently makes good business sense.

However, if you think blasting LinkedIn users with connection requests is the way to go, put the brakes on your plans and rethink your strategy. Here’s some well-researched advice:

Nobody likes a spammer

Logging in to your dashboard and sending out a blast of connection requests is not a good use of your time. And if you think blasting your current connections with your service (or a clients latest product).  These are typical forms of spamming which will lose you connections instead of gaining them.  How many times have you connected with someone, for them to immediately sell to you and you delete them immediately?  Or is that just me?

Don’t use people just for introductions

When someone accepts your connection, get to know that person and their company before asking for introductions to others in their network. People are very protective of their networks and will pick and choose whom they allow access. If they refer you to their connection, and that introduction or meeting doesn’t go well, then THEIR reputation is at stake. Building relationships goes two ways for this exact reason.  Think about the old adage: Know, Like and Trust.

Remember the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated

Follow your simple common sense: If you don’t want to be bombarded with connection requests and product offers or offers to join teams and you don’t know the person asking, why would you do those same things to others? Connect with others who have a common interest or whose companies compliment yours. A personalised connection request makes a big difference, too.  

Allow time to build relationships and to build your network

Your network will NOT grow overnight, especially if you use spam tactics or icky methods to connect with people. Think of networking as the “planting of seeds,” where you certainly talk about what you do and who you are but in a natural, organic, and authentic way instead of in sales mode. Over time your connections will remember what you do and if they like your style, they will readily refer people to you; but they need to know you better and that takes time.

Provide value to others

One way to showcase your expertise to your LinkedIn connections is to share consistently. Write articles, participate in groups, ask questions, and share about your mission and why it’s important to you. Educate your followers about what you do or the problems you can solve. Done consistently, this type of sharing will keep you in people’s minds and you just never know when they will be ready to hire you or send you a referral.

Networking on LinkedIn really boils down to common sense: Act professionally so you portray your business in the best possible light and be authentic in your interactions. Your ideal clients will be drawn to you once they get to know you as a person instead of as a salesperson.

Some of my favourite people to follow for hints and tips on LinkedIn are the following:

Sarah Clay of Sarah Clay Social.

Sam Rathling of Pipeline44 Group

Top Dog Social Media and their blogs on the subject. 

John Espirian and his LinkedIn Lounge.