We all use LinkedIn. It has become the de facto tool for keeping in touch and for being visible in the business world. Who doesn’t check out LinkedIn before an important meeting with a new prospect?
LinkedIn allows people to get involved in and keep abreast of discussions and much more. It supports database gathering and cleansing when undertaking marketing campaigns. LinkedIn Pulse is increasingly an asset for research and for inspiration when doing content marketing. LinkedIn is ultimately a key tool in your online marketing toolkit.
But many business managers fail to use LinkedIn correctly. They fail to understand that LinkedIn is absolutely not business as usual. It should not simply be used as another route to market. It isn’t about sending ‘push’ or sales messages directed at individuals whose profile fits your target customer.
Marketing folk wax lyrical about how LinkedIn is a social channel for business and that it’s more about engagement than sales. Whilst that may be typical ‘marketing speak’ and the word ‘engagement’ is over-used, to a large extent it’s true. Today, as ever, higher value sales come through engagement not direct selling. People buy people online as well as face to face.
Of course there are plenty of people that use inmails and connection requests followed by a direct sales message. This is similar to cold email marketing in my book. I don’t subscribe to that strategy at all. Some might argue that it’s a numbers game and maybe that’s true. But that can be said of lots of marketing approaches. I don’t believe that the high value opportunities most business people are looking for come by deploying this tactic.
So, what is the correct approach for LinkedIn? There are plenty of LinkedIn experts out there, much more qualified than me, who can train you on the use of LinkedIn. There are tons of blog posts on the subject online and I’ve included one below. My tips below come from what works for me. I don’t focus on these all of the time and I’m not saying I do it perfectly at all. It’s a work in progress and time dictates. However, I spend my time wholly in the outbound and inbound lead generation arena and this approach has helped me grow my business.
Remember that it’s about engagement. Few if any want to be sold to. Therefore, it is definitely soft sell rather than hard sell.
There are a number of methods and tools that can and should be used such as:
- Your profile and your company page – Make sure they’re complete
- Direct messages to 1st level connections with interesting and relevant stuff
- Connection requests to 2nd level connections
- Inmails to reach relevant prospects but using added value content to connect
- Groups (joining relevant targeted groups or curating one yourself)
- Participating in relevant group discussions
- Using status updates to prompt people to visit your website and social pages
- Creating posts that showcase your knowledge
- Showcase pages that focus on key areas you want to promote
Find out about the use of these and use them! The above assumes that your focus is adding value and providing knowledge and not pushing sales messages.
You need a strategy. That includes:
- Engaging with people already at first level connections
- Encouraging appropriate 2nd level connections to become first level
- Encouraging appropriate 3rd level connections to engage and connect
The 2nd and third points above involve understanding your target market and identifying a way to attract those individuals to you.
Ultimately, any sales interaction is about value exchange. You are solving a problem that a buyer has. They will pay a fair price for that. With LinkedIn, it’s also about value exchange. But this time, in the first instance, it’s about encouraging people to connect with you and your company and to recognise you as a provider of useful insight. Then they may consider you as a future) supplier. It isn’t necessarily about now. But if it helps build your pipeline and reinforces client perceptions of the value you add, it has to be worthwhile.
My Brief Tips for Approach
- Develop a company page and profile that are interesting and targeted towards the kind of customers you want
- Develop content outside of LinkedIn that can be used within LinkedIn (e.g. tips)
- Create posts and status updates to signpost people to that content
- Check out who’s checking you out. If they’re interesting, connect!
- Use showcase pages to highlight key services
- Create a target list using advanced search on LinkedIn premium using the filters to identify the right people with whom to engage
- Validate that list so you aren’t targeting people who used to be in the role but have now gone on to own a farm in the outer Hebrides
- Define your approach to 1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections in terms of how you will engage with them and how you will encourage 2nd and. 3rd level to become 1st level
- Use connection requests and inmails sensitively
- Signpost people to the content you’ve created that may be of value to them
- Frequently produce relevant content that you can regularly (but not in an overly pushy way) send their way either directly, via status updates, posts or in group discussions.
- Over time, find ways for connections to engage with you on a more personal level e.g. At an exhibition, via a round table breakfast, through a webinar
- Make sure that whenever people land on your website or social pages, the landing page is properly designed to show off your credentials
- If a contact engages in online conversation with you (e.g. in response to a post or inmails) suggest a phone call or meet up for a coffee
The above isn’t a quick fix and there’s lots more you can do with LinkedIn that I haven’t covered. If you’d like more LinkedIn knowledge, this is a good blog post from Jeff Pullas.
I have been producing articles like these since 2010. There are more than 100 on my website. I now post them on LinkedIn and distribute them through other social media platforms. This adds to my web traffic and credibility. The result? Lots of enquiries and new business. So doesn’t it make sense to work on your strategy and content and to consider using LinkedIn for Lead Generation?
If you’d like to know how GSA Business Development can help generate growth for your business or book one of our new business development and marketing strategy workshops, contact us now on 0845 658 8192 or use the form on this site.