Why don’t more painting contractors use LinkedIn effectively?
I’ve often citied the statistics I’ve gathered over the years from coaching over a hundred painting contractors and tracking their numbers. Those statistics continue to hold up. 65% or more of your business comes from relationships, whether they be repeat customers, referrals from customers, referrals from strategic alliances (general contractors, other specialty contractors, designers, etc.) or referrals from other business contacts in your community.
What does this tell you? Building relationships is important! You want to take advantage of any opportunity that you have to build stronger relationships with the people who have hired you and the people who have (or could) refer you.
I absolutely believe in building relationships offline. You should have a strategic marketing plan and what I call a customer communications plan that involves the ways you are going to reach out to the people you have relationships with on a regular basis.
Today, I want to focus on how you can build and strengthen relationships using LinkedIn. Learning to use LinkedIn effectively may have fallen to the bottom of your list. Perhaps it’s unfamiliarity with the site, or that you just don’t see how it can benefit you. Here’s a quick 3 step overview on how to use LinkedIn effectively that I call Present, Connect, Share.
The first step is to present yourself. Make sure you have a great “calling card”. Your profile should be fully optimized, with a professional photo, good summary about what you offer, a list of specialties and skills. You will also want to set up your company profile on LinkedIn, connected to your professional profile. There’s a lot more to say about this. There are many ways to showcase yourself and your company on LinkedIn. If you connect with me, you’ll stay in the loop when I offer classes and trainings, some of which are free.
The second step is to connect. First connect with the people you already know who are on LinkedIn. LinkedIn provides tools to help you upload your current contact list from various email systems to help you connect with your contacts who are already on LinkedIn.
Beyond that you’ll want to start connecting with people you meet going forward on an ongoing basis. Every time I attend a networking event and speak with someone enough to have a conversation and exchange business cards, I go home and invite them to connect on LinkedIn, using a custom invite that reminds them of where we met.
The third tier of connecting is to seek out people who could be good referral partners for you on LinkedIn. One of the best strategies for this are to use LinkedIn’s search feature and to ask for introductions to people who would be good referral partners from mutual connections – just like you would do offline. Another way is to join LinkedIn Groups that are likely to have members who are either good potential referral partners or potential customers. This gives you the opportunity to connect or at least show and share your expertise in group discussion threads.
One of my social media consulting clients that I worked with a year ago recently emailed me that he had reached 500 connections. When he started, he had less than 50. He accomplished this over time in a strategic and consistent way. Now he has a much larger audience with whom to share.
The way to continue to build the relationships with the people who can either use your services or refer you is to share. Share your knowledge, share things from other sources that your audience may find of interest, or helpful to them in some way. Sharing articles and tips about home improvement, for example could be a good way for you to help and educate your audience. These types of sharing help keep you in front of people, and help to position you as a helpful and knowledgeable resource. You can also share by showcasing your work or promoting events or specials by linking to pages or blog posts on your own website. Remember to share more and promote less though!
Three ways to share:
Use your Status Update. This is the easiest way to share and often if you are reading an article online that you would like to share, you can share directly from the magazine or blog to LinkedIn.
Use Group Discussions. If you belong to LinkedIn groups, check in and share your thoughts and expertise on topics raised by others or raise your own topics for discussion. Group discussions are not the place to promote.
Use LinkedIn Answers. You may not have the time to use this feature much, but there is a Question and Answer section on LinkedIn where you can share your knowledge and expertise when someone has asked a question on a particular topic. This can help showcase you as an expert, but many business owners don’t have the time to dedicate to this feature. I would first focus on the first two ways to share.
If you follow the three steps outlined above, you will be well on your way to building more effective referral relationships both online and offline.
You can connect with me on LinkedIn I look forward to meeting or reconnecting with you there.