It is natural human behaviour to look for shortcuts to success and these are questions that I am frequently asked when I conduct Q&A sessions at events where I am speaking about my LinkedIn Success Blueprint.

I actually believe that there is a ‘secret’ to building your business: one which can be invisible to some and blindingly obvious but frustratingly difficult to obtain for others.

When you ask yourself what it takes to have overwhelming success in your career and business? MBA’s, Six Sigma processes, proficient management systems, ‘Big Data’, strong sales & marketing and entrepreneurial business leadership may spring to mind. However, while these may be constituents of the world of business today, I believe that they are secondary to relationships between people.

In this increasingly interconnected, technology-driven world, it is all too easy to focus on the wrong things. In this age of disruption, many business professionals and organisations fail to achieve the success they deserve because they are concentrating on the extraneous details and not on the core element that leads to massive and lasting success. If there is any such thing as a ‘secret’ to success in business, then I believe it is in building trust and credibility – and LinkedIn can help you do both!

These ‘secret’ ingredients have been known for years and are impervious to technology. In fact, Dale Carnegie outlined these essential elements in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” published in 1936.

“Business is all about relationships; developing trust and credibility”

Over 35 years of working at every level for businesses of all sizes has shown me that building trust and credibility is the essential open secret that lies at the heart of success and failure in business. I know that people and businesses that grasp this essential truth and concentrate on building meaningful relationships will be those that realise lasting success.

To be successful in the world of business, you must not only deliver ‘value’ to your customers, but you must start, grow and maintain strong relationships between your staff, stakeholders, prospects, suspects and customers.

“People buy people” is another popular distillation of this essential truth. So with this in mind it should be evident that LinkedIn provides a powerful platform which enables you to make connections and build trust and credibility. However, I often find that some people make these common mistakes when using LinkedIn for business development.

Don’t change your behaviour

Just because you are communicating online, doesn’t mean that you should change your behaviour. Remember you are trying to build trust and credibility – communicate with people on LinkedIn as if you were meeting them at a face-to-face networking event…be respectful, polite and engaging. Conversations are the lifeblood of building trust and credibility…make sure that you ‘listen’ and are genuinely interested in the needs of the other party.

Get your ducks lined up

A lack of alignment in your messaging is ‘Kryptonite’ to building trust and credibility. If you meet someone at a networking event, they will almost certainly ‘check you out’ on Google, LinkedIn or your company website.

Therefore, it is vital that you have consistency in your messaging and that your website and LinkedIn profile really reflects well. If you don’t have alignment between your LinkedIn profile, websites, blogs and online assets, then you will struggle to build trust and credibility.

Don’t try to sell

Your trust and credibility will fly out of the window if you use LinkedIn as platform to constantly push for sales.

LinkedIn is about building business relationships and people who fail to grasp this concept run the risk of being ignored and causing permanent damage to their reputation. Take a long-term view….build trust and credibility and the sales will come!