Manufacturing is very much like a jigsaw puzzle; it requires a lot of parts in order to make the whole. You may have the expertise and the staff to build a piece of machinery, but the fabricated parts are not something your company can do. You have to be able to develop a network of suppliers, which in the past was not always an easy thing to do. Social media can help you develop a stable network of suppliers to help you in your process. Perhaps one of the best places to seek out such context is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the largest B2B social media platform on the Internet. It is always been touted as a fantastic way to connect with other business people in the hopes of developing relationships. While you should have a LinkedIn account it is not something you should just set up and ignore. LinkedIn is going to require being actively used. Here are a few ideas.
- Work on Your Profile. It is your introduction to potential suppliers. It is an opportunity for you to showcase who you are and start to build your reputation within the social network.
- Take Advantage of the LinkedIn Groups Directory. This can provide you with industry associations and networks you need.
- Be Sure to Segment Your Connections. LinkedIn will automatically place every new connection under an Untagged. You want your suppliers segmented into various groups that are closely identified with the parts you need. Doing that will allow for faster connection when it is needed.
- Maintain A Relationship. Once you’ve established a connection you should try to maintain it. This can be as simple as saying happy birthday or asking a question of the connection. The intent is to establish a meaningful dialogue that may turn into business in the near future.
- Consider Using Company Size for Searches. It is easy enough to do from the menu:
- Choose “Companies” from the top menu;
- Scroll down to “Company Size”;
- Choose the size of company and any other parameters you wish.
One reason you would do this is to connect with a company that is closer to your size. The business owner may be an entrepreneur just like you with shared experiences. It can help you develop a better relationship with someone who understands where you’re coming from, and what your needs are. Doing this can save an awful lot of time.
Working with LinkedIn can also introduce you to all the other facets of this social media phenomenon. LinkedIn realizes that its future is in providing as much service as possible to its account holders. You’ll discover that there are some advertising possibilities LinkedIn offers which will help you in other activities. Without question the biggest benefit is the sheer number of account holders on this site. Finding suppliers is not a very easy task and can take hours. With LinkedIn you can quickly develop relationships in much less time and create an environment where you are not only doing business, but sharing very important information and finding solutions to problems you may be experiencing.