LinkedIn recently unveiled a new feature that makes engaging with prospective customers, investors or potential employers easier than ever.

When it comes to generating more business for yourself using an online platform like LinkedIn, few factors are as important as speed.

The ability to quickly engage someone while he or she is interacting with your content or viewing your LinkedIn profile is a fantastic way to strike up instant conversations with warm, inbound sales leads or potential employers curious about what you might have to offer.

It’s all become possible because LinkedIn is both hosting the world’s largest professional cocktail party (via the content you share on LinkedIn, your profile page, etc.) and acting as a virtual emcee by constantly introducing guests to one another.

New Connections, Quick Conversations

Now, LinkedIn has taken its professional courtship services to a level that would make contestants on “The Bachelor” envious.

If you don’t already have access, you should soon see the name and face of each and every new LinkedIn connection you make automatically dropping into your LinkedIn inbox.

Along with that person’s name and professional title, you’ll also receive one of two messages based on whether you’re the one doing the inviting or the accepting.

For people who have invited you to connect, once you accept their invitation, you get a message inside your inbox that says, “[Person’s name] is now a connection” along with any personal text they put into their invite.

For people you have invited to connect, and who have accepted your invitation, you get a message that says, “[Person’s name] accepted your invitation” along with a recap of whatever customized message you used as part of your invite text.

That gives you instant context and access to send a personalized, 1-on-1 message to your new connection, kicking off a real-time conversation via back-and-forth messaging, similar to texting or instant messaging services.

Relationship-Based Selling Rules on LinkedIn

Given LinkedIn’s increasing desire to facilitate the facilitate the exchange of professionally-themed products and services between professionals on the network, this latest development makes the process even smoother than before.

Here’s a step-by-step example of how it can work:

Step 1 – You utilize LinkedIn Search to find your ideal prospects.

Step 2 – You send those prospects personalized invitations to connect.

Step 3 – As each new prospect accepts your invite, you instantly send him or her a 1-on-1 message.

Step 4 – You send a message thanking the prospect for connecting, warming him or her up by noting a personal item gleaned from his or her profile (where he or she lives, went to school, hobbies, etc.) and begin building a relationship based around how you can help him or her professionally.

Step 5 – You read, react and listen to what your new connection is saying, and offer up the appropriate advice, tips, tools and resources based on what you think the situation merits.

Don’t Propose on the First Date!

The key is not rushing too fast into trying to consummate your newfound professional relationships by turning them into instant sales.

Rather, it’s about building longer-term, value-based relationships while also netting some “quick wins” along the way.

Timing, as always, can be everything, and the more targeted the prospects or potential customers/employers you connect to, the more likely you are to find someone who has an immediate need and is ready to jump on what you have to offer.

Assuming, of course, that you’ve first created a killer LinkedIn profile by making it clear how you help your target audience achieve their professional goals, the courtship can move more quickly than an episode of reality-television dating if done correctly!

Speed Specificity = Success on LinkedIn

It’s all based around understanding how to combine the speed and context LinkedIn loads into each and every interaction you have on the network, along with what goes into a crafting an effective sales funnel for your business or personal brand.

Having spent 48 straight months studying how to sell products and services on LinkedIn, it’s become clear to me that a “give-first” model of content marketing, combined with the classic “Know, Like and Trust” elements that go into building any successful professional relationship works best.

Thankfully, LinkedIn keeps making it easier than ever to execute this type of strategy. And, with Microsoft purchasing LinkedIn and promising to integrate many of its most popular products and platforms into the network, things are only going to get better – and easier – moving forward.