With in-person networking events on hold for the foreseeable future, it’s more important than ever to connect with current and prospective clients online. During the “Leveraging LinkedIn” webinar for the Society of American Florists, social media maven Jackie Levine shared how to build relationships through the business site, laying the foundation for future sales.
“LinkedIn makes you look more professional,” said Levine, the fourth-generation manager of Central Square Florist in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “That’s a great representation of your business. And there’s not a ton of competition with other florists on the site, so if you’re active, it helps you stand out.”
Here are a few of her pointers:
Connect with all kinds of people in your life. First, look for people you know well — your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, classmates. Next, add your repeat clients. “I make a point of going through our customer list every couple of weeks,” Levine said, adding that she doesn’t connect immediately after someone makes a big order. “That might come across creepy,” she said. “I wait a few weeks.” The same advice applies to past brides and grooms and people she’s collaborated with on events. Other additions include people she’s met through the Chamber of Commerce, as well as journalists. “You can actually get to 500+ connections [a key LinkedIn benchmark] pretty quickly,” she said.
Cast a wide net with content. Following the above suggestion will yield a very assorted network. “My LinkedIn posts cover so much ground because my followers are so diverse,” Levine said. Among her recent posts: snapshots from recent weddings, customer reviews, a Father’s Day shout-out to her dad and business partner, news coverage of Central Square Florist, a graphic representing the mental challenges of life during a pandemic, praise for her state’s retail association, and teasers for her SAF webinars. “You want a variety of posts to reach different people to maximize sales,” she said.
Embrace photographs. “People seem to think LinkedIn is just to find a job or read articles,” Levine said. “But people love seeing flowers there as much as on Facebook or Instagram. I recently got a $1,000 funeral order from a LinkedIn connection who said she always enjoyed our flower photos.” Making sure a good photo gets maximum traction, Levine reuses favorite images from other social sites. (“The trick is to not post them to different sites at the exact same time,” she said.) She also tweaks the captions. Instagram, for instance, rewards long, breezy captions. On LinkedIn, Levine favors a succinct sentence or two — with subtle differences between her own page and her shop’s page. “The verbiage on my page is more casual and personal,” she said.
Tag away. If your post mentions another person and/or business, make sure you tag them. “This is super helpful because it puts you in more networks and gets you more views,” Levine said.
For more tips, click here to watch the full webinar.
Katie Hendrick Vincent is the senior contributing writer and editor for the Society of American Florists.