As the old saying goes: “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”.
In this modern age of social media and digital marketing, these words still apply, especially if you are a marketer. For those who are using LinkedIn marketing to expand their network, the social networking platform gives you the opportunity to connect with your competition. But the question is: should you?
If a competitor sends you a LinkedIn invitation, it is natural to feel suspicious or hesitant. At the end of the day, it is a matter of preference. But before you can even come to a decision, first you need to identify who your competition is.
LinkedIn is the best social media platform for learning all about your competition—and here we will talk about how you can do just that.
Anyone can use LinkedIn’s search function to find their competitors. You can search People, Jobs, and Content: but in this case you will be searching for People. Just click on the Search box on top of LinkedIn pages and select People.
LinkedIn’s search Filters offer different search options that will help you narrow down the results. You can search by Location, Schools, Connections, etc. Premium LinkedIn offers additional search filters like Years of Experience, Function, Seniority Level, Company Size, and when they joined LinkedIn.
You can also type keywords into the search bar if you have anything in mind. You can use this to search for your competition through their industry.
For example, when you type “Digital Marketing” in the search bar, you’ll get the option to look at People who use this keyword in their profile.
Visit the profiles that show up in your search and analyze whether or not they are your competition. If you think you have similar products and services, or have the same target audience, then they might be one of your competitors.
If you think connecting with your competition on LinkedIn can be beneficial to you, then go ahead and send an invitation. The main benefit is that you can see their profile—including their connections. But on the flipside, they can see yours too.
A lot of people are worried that their competitors might poach their connections. And while that can happen in some scenarios, the advantages of connecting with them should not be discounted. Very rarely will you lose a client just because you are connected with a few competitors on LinkedIn—especially if you’ve developed a strong relationship with your customers.
Look at it as a chance to learn more about the competition. This relationship will be reciprocal, since you can get information about each other—but it also opens up opportunities for unexpected collaborations.
Remember that you can always disconnect if the relationship is not beneficial—or is harmful to your business.
Once you are connected, you can check out companies that they are following to get an idea of who is on their radar at the moment. Learn more about them by looking at their page: their content, their recommendations, and how they’ve set up their profile. These things can give you valuable insight on who they are and how they conduct their business.
Ultimately, this depends on your own LinkedIn marketing strategies and how you can use these pieces of information to your benefit. There’s no harm in connecting with the competition, especially in a network that is all about building mutually beneficial relationships. Give it a shot, and if it doesn’t feel right for you, you can always hit “disconnect”.