Science Says These 3 Tactics Can Help You Strengthen Relationships with Prospects

Want to become “the one” to your prospects? Discover three scientifically-proven ways to strengthen relationships through your social selling on LinkedIn.

February 11, 2015


Social selling is a lot like dating. Once you’ve made that initial connection, the challenge is to figure out how to go from first date-worthy to relationship material.

To help you use social selling to become “the one” to your prospect, we combed through research on interpersonal and social relationships to uncover three scientifically-proven tactics you can use to strengthen relationships with your sales prospects:

1. Respond in an Active-Constructive Way

When a prospect shares good news on LinkedIn, they are subtly signaling that they want to connect. To develop your relationship, “turn toward” your prospect by leaving an active-constructive comment. Research has shown that when a person responds to a request for connection with supportive words and questions, their partner feels closer to them and more satisfied with the relationship. Neutral responses, such as “That’s great” have a much smaller impact.

When a prospect posts good news on their profile, respond in one of two ways:

  • Confirm the importance of the news and elaborate on positive implications. "The research you just published is excellent. Looks like you’ll be in the running.” “Congrats on the promotion! Does this mean that you’ll be managing a bigger team?”


  • Reinforce your relationship by revealing knowledge about the personal significance of the news. “Congrats on the promotion. Looks like all those early mornings paid off!

2. Reach Out in New Ways

There is a lot of debate over the best communication channels for establishing a relationship with a prospect. Should you send an InMail, leave a comment, or engage in a discussion in a LinkedIn Group?

The answer is that you should use all the channels offered by LinkedIn to reach out to prospects. Studies show that people form stronger relationships when they use multiple means of communication. Research also shows it is possible to strengthen relationships by adding an additional means of communication.

To build a strong bond with prospects, use as many relevant communication tools as you can. If you see a prospect share an article in your LinkedIn feed, leave a comment, and then send an InMail that expands on your response. Reply to discussions in LinkedIn Groups, and make sure you like and share interesting content posted by your prospect. The more channels you use to reach out to prospects, the more connected they will feel to you.

3. Become a Storyteller

When researchers at the University of Utah studied the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, they found that stories told over the campfires at night had a bigger impact on relationships than the “how to” conversations held during the day. Stories cement ties between the storyteller and listener, and build a sense of community.

To sound like a storyteller when you reach out to prospects, answer the following questions when you leave a comment, engage in a discussion, or send an InMail:

  • Who was the hero of this story?
  • What were they trying to accomplish?
  • What obstacle got in the way to achieving this goal?
  • Who or what helped the hero achieve their goal?
  • What was the moral of the story? What did the hero learn?

Enhance your bond even further by using a persona or industry-specific stories. The more a prospect can relate to the hero of your story, the more understood they will feel.

Build your relationships on LinkedIn by responding in an active-constructive manner to good news, communicating through multiple channels, and telling stories when you engage with prospects. These tactics will allow you to form a deeper bond in less time and create the quality relationships that turn into long-lasting, revenue-producing accounts.