LinkedIn boasts the largest network of professionals on the Internet, with over 70 million members from 200 countries and representing 170 industries. What makes it unique is its focus on ‘networking’ rather than ‘socialising’. This crucial point makes it a key business tool for any industry but specifically the construction industry. Where else can you get unlimited access to so many potential clients, product manufacturers, industry opinion leaders, architects, contractors, fellow marketing professionals and even your competitors? If you are still not convinced, here is a brilliant infographic, designed by Hubspot, which illustrates some surprising statistics about LinkedIn and the way it is used.
Why Business Relationships are Important
Put simply, that’s what business is all about. It is a ‘contact sport’ because it is the human connection, cooperation and contact that forms the building blocks of a successful business. You have probably heard of the saying ‘people buy from people’ well they also buy from people they trust, respect and like. Doing business requires a mutual respect and two-way communication between the two-way parties. You are not going to spend your money on expensive products or services unless doing some research on the company, speaking over the phone or even meeting them in person. Therefore establishing, building and maintaining business relationships with clients (and others in the supply chain) in an organised, but genuine manner, can help excel your company reputation and aid to the bottom line.
Once you have done business with another company and they either satisfied or exceeded your expectations, you are likely to return to them in the future. This repeat business is what is most profitable for a construction company because it secures income in the future and if clients speak highly of your work, they might recommend you to others. Therefore it is just good business sense to maintain relationships with clients and the best way to keep clients is to build trust. If you are always honest with them and treat them with respect (and accept no less from them) then you are off to a great start.
Social media platforms such as LinkedIn have simply given us the tools to communicate more frequently to build trust, integrity and credibility. It provides a simpler way to keep in touch, and up-to-date with existing clients whilst gaining access to the many potential customers on this social network. As long as you remember that business relationships are a two way street and require work and nurturing, then LinkedIn will provide you with the tools to do some of the networking that you used to do offline, online.
**A relationship is an ongoing commitment. Be ready.
How to Maintain Relationships through LinkedIn
The art of fostering and maintaining relationships has not necessarily changed, it is simply the tools that have adapted and changed. The amount of time spent on the internet is increasing yearly and thus social media sites are becoming more and more popular. LinkedIn provides construction companies with a unique opportunity to engage and communicate with their clients. Many construction industry professionals such as architects or contractors have a profile on LinkedIn but don’t necessarily know what to do with it. The options can sometimes be overwhelming and many think they don’t have the time to familiarise themselves with the site.
Here are some recommendations:
- Fill out your profile: Include all the necessary product and service details and make sure that you include key words so that your company will be easily found in search results. Ensure that your employment history and summary is current and include links to your website and blog (if you have one).
- Recommendations: Remember when I said relationships work both ways? Yes? Well in this case write a meaningful and inspiring recommendation for your clients and I am sure you will receive a great one in return. By showing them that you value their business, they will feel appreciated.
- Join existing groups: Opportunity to share relevant content with a targeted group of people. This will drive quality traffic to your website or blog and can increase lead generation.
- Start a group: Giving and receiving advice is one of the best things about LinkedIn. Creating a group in which you can discuss industry issues with fellow clients and prospects is a great way to increase your credibility and trust – strengthening old relationships and forming new ones. But know that it requires consistent activity since you are responsible for starting discussions and keeping the group updated on industry news. Once it gets up and running with more members, group discussions will flow easier and more regularly.
- Ask and answer Questions: Giving and receiving feedback will benefit both of the parties involved and LinkedIn provides a great question & answer feature. Feedback helps to strengthen a relationship even if it’s sometimes hard to give or take and then implement it. But implementing it shows that you value each other’s judgement and can be taken as a compliment
- Take an interest: Look at company updates to keep in touch with what is happening with your clients. Have they won an award, hired a new employee or did someone get promoted? If yes, get in touch and congratulate them, it shows you care and reinforces that personal touch.
- Keep Learning: LinkedIn can help you improve your business services and products by looking at what problems people are having and trying to solve them or improve upon short comings. By communicating with professionals from all over the world you gain greater access to new ideas and knowledge which you can apply to your business. The more you learn and the better you become, the more you can offer your clients – the benefits will have a positive effect on your relationship.
On the whole the key to successful business relationships is communication. Building a sustainable business relationship is not going to happen overnight. They are hard work and require diligence and perseverance. LinkedIn can help you manage relationships that consistently create mutual wins for all stakeholders. Maximizing mutual benefit will always maximize the value of a relationship for both parties. However, LinkedIn is just one platform with which you can do this so don’t neglect the others. Face to face meetings are still important.
What methods do you use to maintain and build your business relationships? Have you found LinkedIn to be a useful tool?
Since we are talking about LinkedIn, why not connect with us:
Nick Pauley – http://uk.linkedin.com/in/nickpauley
Pritesh Patel – http://uk.linkedin.com/in/priteshpatel9
Ayaan Mohamud – http://uk.linkedin.com/in/ayaanmohamud