By Ryan Malone

Thanksgiving and the Winter holiday season are nearly upon us.

Before you get buried under shopping lists and family visits, be sure your business is set to enter the second quarter with healthy new leads.

To have a profitable 2011, make a plan to ramp up your LinkedIn marketing strategy.

The holidays are all about connecting and sharing warm wishes. This is a great opportunity for B-to-B marketers to reconnect with valued clients, partners, vendors and even forge new connections. Here are a few tips for creating holiday connections on LinkedIn:

1. Give the gift of introductions

Send personal messages out to your most valuable contacts. In the message, wish them a “Happy Thanksgiving,” or if it’s closer to Christmas time, a “Happy Holiday Season and New Year.” In the spirit of the holidays, offer the contact a formal LinkedIn introduction to anyone in your network that they might find valuable. Everyone wants to build their network and reach out to new contacts. If clients take you up on the offer to connect with someone on your list, it’s likely they will also reciprocate and help you build connections to their contacts as well.

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2. Create a holiday poll

LinkedIn polls are an opportunity to connect with contacts, show thought leadership and gain valuable insights. Around the holiday season, right before the Black Friday and Cyber Monday rush, try polling your contacts with a timely question, such as “How important is Free Shipping to Holiday Customers?” or “What sales metrics are most important to your business during the holiday rush,” and provide specific answer options. If your company offers any solutions that help with the holiday rush do not hesitate to build your poll question around your own services.This poll will allow you to engage with contacts in your network and gain insights.

3. Extend a special offer

During the holidays, with Q1 wrapped up, business executives and decision makers will be thinking ahead to the new year, and how to improve their company’s performance for the remaining three quarters. Develop a landing page with a special offer, such as a “Free 2011 Consultation,” or re-purpose a piece of educational content to make it sound more timely, for example, “Download our Free Report to Maximize Your Online Conversions for 2011.” Place these on your LinkedIn profile as web links. You can also post links to these items in your status or create announcements about these offerings in LinkedIn Groups. These targeted offerings will appeal to your clients’ mindsets as they look ahead to the new year.

The holidays are a great opportunity to connect with clients and leads, not just on LinkedIn, but in all of your social media marketing. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to share valuable content and offers within your network.

Photo: Dano.

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Ryan Malone

About the author

Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several venture-backed technology companies. When he's not leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps! Read more articles by Ryan Malone.

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