For many of us, our businesses are still very much online-only. The past few months’ have proven difficult for a lot of companies. The changing needs of our customers, coupled with the uncertainty over when things might return to a semblance of normality have changed much about the way our business is done.

Similarly, the way we connect with people, build our relationships and develop new ones has also changed. Most of us are not doing in-person meetings yet, most trade shows and events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, and even a phone call or email might go unanswered.

The best option we have is to cultivate and build relationships virtually. If you use LinkedIn, you’ve probably noticed the high volume of connection requests and sales pitches popping up in your messages. While selling over LinkedIn is nothing new, the quantity of sales approaches is unprecedented – and it’s because it’s currently the best way to build a new relationship.

However, you have to be cautious when approaching new people. At this point, many are sick of the unsolicited communications that flood inboxes on a near-daily basis. An out-of-the-blue pitch, or unwanted piece of advice comes across as insincere at best, and the behaviour of a grifter at worse.

Who Are You?

That’s the first question somebody will ask when you approach them online. Before they even read your message, they’ll want to know who you are. Your profile needs to answer that question.

Ask yourself the same question, and tailor your profile appropriately. Use the space available to inform people who you are, what you do, and what type of connections you’re looking to make. Focus on skills and keywords that are relevant and desirable to your audience. Assume that people are busy, so keep your profile concise and to the point. Relevance is akin to quality when it comes to a LinkedIn profile, and that matters a lot more than length.

Get to Know People Before You Consider Selling

Approaching somebody new with a sales pitch is often regarded as poor etiquette online. Before you’ve even tried to learn something about a potential contact, you’re showering them with, often unwelcome, pitches.

Right now, a lot of people’s businesses are in flux. Investments are more considered than ever before. Somebody who seems like an ideal customer might not have the finances to make a new investment. They might be under pressure or stress, and your sales pitch could be the last thing they have time for.

Instead, get to know people you connect with. Try and understand their current position and what their immediate needs are, and where possible…

Offer Your Time and Expertise

In our sales programmes, we often talk about the value of generosity. Investing a little of your time to offer your skills and expertise can reap huge rewards. Look for ways you can add value, even if it means providing some assistance for free. It’s a great way to start a mutually beneficial relationship and build up some credit in the emotional bank account.

Get Involved

If you’re wondering how to uncover people’s needs, the simplest method is to get involved. Participate in discussions, join groups relevant to your industry, share articles that could be useful to others, etc. When you’re active, people take notice, and those who care about the future of their business may well ask if they could pick your brains.

Furthermore, by being active, you make yourself noticeable to people who want to connect with you. People gravitate towards those who they feel are like them. Commenting on other people’s posts and taking part in discussions is a fantastic way to market yourself beyond the confines of your own circle.


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