5 Steps to Building Strategic Partnerships Using LinkedIn - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

Many entrepreneurs face challenges with determining what social media platform to use to connect them with the right audience. Attracting new business in the ever-changing digital age can be a long, arduous process, but creating strategic partnerships is a smart path to success.

“Finding the right strategic partnership can be the difference between having a successful business or just making it,” explains Deborrah Ashley, LinkedIn Marketing Strategist.

Entrepreneurs and leaders are now turning to LinkedIn to find and cultivate strategic partnerships. However, before setting up or updating your profile, here are a few tips to leverage LinkedIn to build strategic partnerships.

Know Your Outcome

The key to creating the right strategic partnerships is understanding the desired outcome. Whether it is brand awareness, lead generation, or to be known as a brand authority or thought leader, understanding your goals for using LinkedIn is important. This helps you to connect with the right professionals, entrepreneurs, clients, or customers.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

The profile picture is the first impression of you. Have a professional or industry-related profile picture that aligns with your brand or desired messaging.

The headline is the section at the top of the profile for a professional description in 120 characters or less. Customizing the profile description will help you to distinguish yourself. Ashley also recommends having the “about” section completed as well as getting testimonials from current or past co-workers or clients.

Customizing the banner image of your LinkedIn profile is a great way to brand your expertise or key message. The standard default blue banner will not optimize your professional identity. LinkedIn allows users to customize their banner image.

“Showcasing industry qualifications, accreditation, or media mentions will build credibility. This could be the deciding factor for possible strategic partners. Also, highlighting your contact information on the banner image makes it easier for people to connect with you,” shares Ashley.

Identify Strategic Partnerships or Champions

Strategic partners or champions are people who influence your target audience or clients. Influencers like radio and podcast hosts can introduce your brand or business to their audience.

“Before reaching out to them, be sure to engage with their content. This will help increase your connection acceptance rate and ensure more connections turn into conversations,” says Ashley.

Create Compelling Content

“Your content should act like breadcrumbs,” explains Ashely. “It should be designed to lead the reader back to your profile so they can reach out to you and ask for help.”

Compelling content is a great tool to establish value and open doors to new opportunities without seeming “spammy.” 

People like to receive information in different ways. Knowing how your target audience prefers to consume information will help to determine the best way to share your content. Use images to paint a picture, share audio clips from a podcast or a presentation you facilitated, or post stories that resonate with your audience. 

Plan Outreach Strategy

The idea is to stay top of mind as a resource. Ashley suggests sending messages to potential strategic partners to create and keep a connection. Over the course of four weeks, here are three sample messages.”

Message #1: The “Nice Connecting with You” Message

This message is used to break the ice with someone with whom you’ve just connected.

Message #2: The “Value” Message

In this message, you’re not asking for anything. Just give value. When done correctly, you will get people who are interested in getting on a call with you immediately.

Message #3: The “Get On the Phone” Message

This message moves the conversation off LinkedIn to see how you can add value to each other’s business. If they are local, inviting them for coffee is an excellent way to enhance the connection.

“From there, strategic partnerships can be developed that result in mutual referrals and new business opportunities,” says Ashley.


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