LinkedIn is an underutilized tool for building relationships, expanding opportunities, and attracting high-quality clients.
I know what you’re thinking. LinkedIn is that platform you only sign into once every couple of weeks. You check to see if you have any new connection requests. You scroll through your feed and engage with a couple of posts. Maybe you even drop a couple of “Congrats!” comments along the way.
But there’s something interesting going on behind the scenes. LinkedIn is a treasure trove of partners and clients waiting to be discovered. And most firms and AEC professionals haven’t taken notice – yet.
As the only business-focused social media platform, LinkedIn is like a digital nation full of decision makers. More than 80 percent of their 900 million users drive business decisions. But there’s a huge opportunity gap – only 1 percent of LinkedIn users post content on a weekly basis. That means that 99 percent of users are passively consuming content and building connections.
I’ve experienced the power of LinkedIn firsthand. I began posting regularly on LinkedIn at the beginning of 2022. Since then, I’ve amassed nearly 20,000 followers (mostly architects). My content has been viewed 6 million times. And I’ve developed powerful partnerships and opportunities as a result.
Here’s the good news: LinkedIn has a low barrier of entry. You can begin building relationships, expanding opportunities, and attracting high-quality clients relatively quickly on LinkedIn because of the huge opportunity gap. Here are five key areas that can help you build a high-quality client pipeline on LinkedIn and differentiate yourself (and your firm) from competitors:
People first. Yes, you should have a LinkedIn page for your firm. And yes, you should post to it regularly. But the real strength of LinkedIn lies in the individuals. Why? It’s easier for individuals to build relationships than it is for your company page to do so. And, ultimately, people choose to do business with people they respect rather than with companies they like.
So instead of betting your efforts on your company page, identify a few individuals who are interested in becoming more vocal on LinkedIn. They will become the faces of your firm that drive this new pipeline.
Share value. To stand out on LinkedIn, your content must provide value to your audience. And by “value” I don’t mean celebrations of firm awards, promotions, anniversaries, or photos of completed projects. Let your competitors keep posting that content while you attract new work.
Valuable content addresses the common problems, challenges, and unknowns of your ideal client. It provides actionable insights based on experience with your market. And, more importantly, it exemplifies how well you understand the needs and desires of your client.
Instead of posting photos of a completed project, write about how the design helps your client’s team work more efficiently. Instead of a post celebrating your many years in business, write about the 10 most common challenges your ideal client will face over the course of a project. Instead of touting a new award, write about creative solutions that save clients money.
You get the picture – post for your client rather than yourself.
Be consistent. Most people will give up after a few weeks when they run out of valuable ideas. But not you. Decide on a posting schedule that aligns with your capacity, and stick to it. Aim for at least three posts per week to maintain visibility and engagement. As you establish a rhythm, consider increasing your frequency to strengthen your presence.
Need endless ideas? Create a content matrix with rows of topics that are relevant to your clients and columns of content typologies like case studies, market trends, and educational posts. Continue to add to it as more people engage with your posts and ask questions. Then use it each week to catalyze valuable posts.
Consistency will help you become a trusted source of value to your market.
Engage often. This is where the magic happens. Once you begin posting regularly, you’ll notice more questions, comments, and topics evolve on each post. Engagement is a two-way street. Actively listen to your audience and respond to each person to keep the conversation alive. This will help build momentum and compound the reach and reception of your content.
But don’t stop there. Take 10-15 minutes each morning to engage with other posts in your feed. Identify individuals, groups, or companies that your ideal clients follow and share valuable comments on their posts. This gets you in front of your audience in multiple areas so that you can grow your following and attract clients more rapidly.
Get personal. As you begin building momentum, potential partners and clients will begin to follow and engage with your posts. What’s the best way to open the door to the relationship?
Every user has likely experienced the generic pitches from hungry individuals sliding into your inbox. This type of outreach (lovingly referred to as “pitch slapping”) is ineffective for building meaningful relationships.
Instead, send messages that lead with value or specificity. For example, send a link to an article that is relevant to a comment they made on your post. Or start by complimenting an area of their business or an accomplishment listed on their profile. This helps to build rapport so the business relationship can organically develop.
Remember, many firms and AEC professionals have yet to realize that LinkedIn holds a remarkable potential for unlocking a treasure trove of partners and clients. By prioritizing individuals over company pages, sharing valuable content, maintaining consistency, engaging actively, and fostering personal connections, you can differentiate your firm from competitors and cultivate a fresh pipeline of high-quality clients. Enjoy your treasure hunting!
Tyler Suomala focuses on business development at Monograph. Connect with him on LinkedIn.