When you are trying to grow your B2B business you need to forge good relationships and network regularly with your business partners. An ideal platform for doing this is LinkedIn. However, some small business owners can feel a little intimidated by approaching potential new business connections in this way.

LinkedIn is a great place to browse through and discover lots of potential new business partners or business links to network with but once you have made a list of people you want to connect with you can often find yourself wondering what to say, or how to break the ice and introduce yourself.

As you are trying to establish a business link with others you may want your association to be strictly professional, but LinkedIn is still a social media site right? So is it wrong to send a request without including a personal message too?

linkedin networkTailor your request to suit your target

One tip here is to sit down and work out a few different approaches you can take. You can write out lots of different scripts to suit different tones of approach if it makes it easier for you. Doing this can help by simply becoming a copy and paste exercise to break the ice and make that first connection without having to agonise over each and every word once you find a potential business connection.

Writing out a set of introductory scripts can really take the stress out of your first contact. Try to set some time aside where you can script some approaches that are friendly and highlight your human face of the business, but also include some general information about your company and your goals for the future.

Also write a couple of more formal approaches where you may want to present the business and push your achievements rather than highlight yourself or an individual person within your company. It helps to write these scripts with no particular company in mind while you do this otherwise you may find that you tailor all your scripts to suit the company you have in your head rather than your general business sector or niche.

You can set up your scripts and then tailor them a little to suit the style of the person or business you want to approach for the first time. It does rely on you thoroughly researching your potential new connection first to get an idea of how they present themselves.

If the person comes across and friendly, personable and generally chatty, then you can tailor your approach to match. If the company comes across as more formal and businesses like, then you would try to curb your enthusiasm and just stick to the facts about your business and how an alliance would be of mutual benefit.

Group your connections together

With LinkedIn it helps to sort your potential new connections into groups or categories. So let’s say that you want to spend a day researching businesses on LinkedIn. Think about the different types of people you will encounter while conducting your research – potential new clients, industry colleagues, co-workers that you may discover, old contacts that you may re-discover, companies that you already do business with, specialist companies that could benefit your business in some way, even potential candidates for employment or freelance work! The list is endless.

As you discover new people or businesses, put them into one of your categories. After a day of research you may have created quite a diverse list of people to approach and connect with. You can then decide to choose one or two of your groups to make contact with, so let’s say you have five potential new clients and three industry colleagues you wish to connect with.

Go to your pre-written scripts that you have already prepared and copy the one you wrote out that is aimed at potential new clients. Go through your list of five new client names and connect with each one using your pre-written script. Do the same for establishing connections with industry colleagues by copy and pasting the script you have prepared for that group.

Having a script ready prepared for each category of connections will save you hours of time and effort! Just remember to tweak your script a little if you need to – but don’t agonise about it too much. It is easier than it seems and you don’t have to be William Shakespeare to write them in the first place.

Some example scripts you can try

Let’s say while you are searching LinkedIn you stumble across some old work colleagues that are still in the same industry and would be worth reconnecting with. Your script could go something like this, “Hello (their name), Do you remember me from when we worked together at (company name)? I am so glad to find you here and would love to keep in touch. Would you like to connect with me on LinkedIn?”

You may discover a company or contact within a business that you are already working with. You already a good link established so could approach them saying something like, “Hello (name), We have really enjoyed working closely with you over the past year. It would be great if we could connect via LinkedIn to make it easier for us to stay in touch and work together in the future.”

For approaching a potential joint venture or collaboration partner you could try something like, “Hello (name), I can see from your profile that we share an interest in (niche/business/sector) and understand how important this is to you – as it is to me too. This is why built our business around it. I would very much like to connect with you on LinkedIn because I think it will be of mutual benefit for both our companies. I hope you will feel able to reach out to me so I can help you in return.”

Rinse and repeat

Keep a copy of your different scripts so that the next time you come across someone on LinkedIn that you think would make a good contact, simply pull up your file and copy and paste the appropriate script from your list to suit the particular category they fit with.

Easy and stress-free!