Lately, I am making it a point to ask many people I encounter daily in business settings – both formal and informal – if they are on LinkedIn. Most are and I ask them if I can connect with them after meeting them. It is an easy way to make more meaningful connections. Just change the automatic invite message wording to a more personal one, possibly referencing your conversation earlier in the day or mentioning something significant or mutually interesting, that you discussed together. The chances are that this practice will result in stronger business connections for you. It has worked well for me.
A very successful commercial insurance producer told me this recently. He said that when he is on a sales call, particularly a business luncheon, instead of the usual amount of small talk before starting to get down to business, after exchanging a few general pleasantries, he asks his prospects and clients to help him solve a business problem or issue that is current for him.
“Unrelated to our business today, let me take a minute to run this by you. I’m wrestling with this, to develop a workable solution. What are your thoughts?”
He said that getting their opinions demonstrates to them that you value their thinking on a matter that you have been considering. Nothing too deep or serious of course – you certainly don’t want to destroy your main purpose for the meeting – but he said it has really helped him connect with his prospects and clients. He added that as a valuable side-benefit, he has heard some great ideas that helped him solve some of his outstanding issues.