LinkedIn has become one of the standard social networks that all companies must be on, and when it comes to sales, if you aren’t using your personal LinkedIn account to connect and find new prospects you are doing yourself a huge disservice.
I am assuming that you already have a LinkedIn account, and are actively using it to either find leads and prospects, or to at least waste time in a way your boss assumes to be a work activity. In either these cases you are using it but you probably are missing a huge opportunity, and your ROI on time is dropping fast.
Using LinkedIn to prospect is not very difficult. The problem is you are acting like a salesman, instead of a human being. You need to look at LinkedIn like it is a never ending networking event, you need to act like you are in a room with these people, meeting them face-to-face and you need to put your best foot forward.
I have spent a lot of time on LinkedIn both professionally and personally trying to build a network, and just experimenting with what works best when it comes to building lasting relationships through the platform and in doing so I have figured out my top 5 ways to crack the “LinkedIn lead generation Code”.
Whether it is through a share, photos, or posting longer posts through the “Pulse “ platform you need to be spending some time each day giving away content to your audience. This is not when you want to sell, in fact never sell through posts. You want to build trust, and the quickest way to build trust is by giving the people something that they value. You always have time to sell later on.
When you are networking with someone in person, do you say, “Hello my name is Steve, buy my stuff.” No you don’t, you would sound like a crazy person, you build through telling relevant stories, or fun anecdotes that the listener will find useful, intriguing, or at least mildly amusing. You build a relationship with the person in front of you, closing will come later.
LinkedIn has one major issue; it is hard to stand out. Every profile looks the same, and every company page gives you one photo and a logo. It is hard to make yourself stand out in a crowd.
LinkedIn also has one thing that you can use to your advantage, video is greatly underserved. There is no doubt that people love video, video sharing sites like YouTube, and Facebook show millions of videos an hour, why not use video on your profile.
It is important to note that Video actually isn’t supported for use on your personal profile at the time of writing this, but using SlideShare, a company LinkedIn bought in 2012, you can place easy video buttons right on your profile. For instructions on how to do this visit Lewis Howes blog post right here.
One way to make your profile stand out over the others is to create a video “business card.” create a 30-45 second intro video about you. Have fun and be interesting. It doesn’t have to look amazing, as long as the content provided is useful or fun. Making it easy to watch the video is the key here.
CONNECT… THE RIGHT WAY
This one may seem like it is a bit of no-brainer, but you would be surprised on how many people get on LinkedIn and either think that people will connect to them, or that it doesn’t really matter that much.
It takes effort to build a network. While online you don’t have as much of the anxiety of the in person face to face introduction, the first impression means a lot more. Make sure that your profile is optimized for easy reading, and that all your information is up to date.
First thing you need to do is connect with all of your current clients. These connections will be the base of you network, and lead to a great amount of referrals and introductions to other companies that they are connected to. When generating leads nothing beat the trust that comes from a friend’s mouth.
LinkedIn networks work like a spider web of connections. With every new connection that web gets larger and more people get added to the People you may know list. Spend a few minutes a day pressing the connect button in the “People you may know” section.
It is always better to add people that you actually do know. Those connections will be more fruitful, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little reaching for those other spider webs. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, look for one of your connections that are connected and ask them for an introduction.
On the desired connections profile you will see a “How your connected” section in the right sidebar. This gives you an easy way ask for introductions to the person, or to people that could introduce you to the prospect.
Joining Groups is also a great way to start making connections. Groups on LinkedIn expand that spider web I was talking about quite a bit if handled correctly, but like any connection, they work best if they are relevant.
Search for groups that are related to your industry, your target customers industry, and other topics that your customers will have common interests with. Being in relevant groups will not only open you up for more connections but it will also give you ideas or content to share, helping with step one.
CREATE A LEAD LIST
This is the part that really leads to having quality leads generated from you linked in efforts. A little research and some thought will lead you to a list of people that you want to get “introduced” to. Look for people that are going to be a good fit for your product, and start with the close connections, (2nd degree), first because they will be the easier connections to get introduced to.
I like to make a list of people that I would like to connect to on the site and then have a second list for those connections that I think will be better suited to connect with IRL (in real life). Creating these separate lists really helps you prioritize what prospective leads you feel can actually become clients in the near future, you don’t want to waste too much time building a relationship with someone IRL that is either not a decision maker, or won’t pull the trigger, but online they can be a useful connection to get you in contact with that decision maker.
TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL.
Okay so now you have your profile and company page fully optimized for easy reading. You took time and effort to build a good sized network. You have joined at least a few relevant groups and you started sharing relevant and intriguing content that has started to garner more than a few likes. What do you do now?
The short answer is to start conversations, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you want this contact to work in your favor and get noticed.
Use the LinkedIn messaging in order to send an introductory message. Again this message is not meant to be a sales pitch, instead make it about them, tell them you enjoy their work and thank them for connecting. That is it. You want to make a real connection with this person and build trust. The worst way to build trust is to come off as the “used car salesman” of the internet. I go in more depth on this subject here, but the main point I’m trying to get at is to build trust before you think about selling. Too many people send copy and pasted messages right away without taking time to do any research; doing this will get you nowhere.
Another way to make a good first impression is to comment on other people updates, and in group discussions. This is a very simple way to get your face in front of their eyes on a regular basis. When commenting though, only comment on post that you can stay positive on. Nobody likes it when they get comments about how much you disagree. Like your mom always said “If you can’t say anything nice…”
The most important thing to remember when messaging, or commenting on someone’s content is, always be relevant. If you don’t have anything to add to the conversation, than you really shouldn’t be joining in on the conversation. This does nothing but diminish your credibility as a thought leader, and as a professional.
If you follow these five steps you will see your time on linkedIn as not only a worthwhile experience, but it will become fun instead of, just something you are told you should do.
I have recently fallen back in love with LinkedIn as a platform, and think that if used correctly it will be a great asset to you, but it does take time and effort to build up a great network.
Go out, have fun, get LinkedIn!