Can LinkedIn actually create sales for your business? You bet! Start by establishing yourself as an expert in your fields of interest.
Follow these five easy steps to: create a great profile, join groups, brand yourself as an expert, and begin digging for valuable leads.
1. Develop a Great Profile.
Your profile should be professional and showcase your expertise and workstyle. LinkedIn is not Facebook; think of it as a website branding YOU.
- Start with your C.V. or resume and work from there.
- When completing position descriptions, be specific and include outcomes and deliverables.
- Include your BUSINESS email and website addresses. Since only your connections can see your contact info, you won’t receive spam as a result of including your business email.
- On the very top, just underneath the terrific, professional photograph that you upload, is your LinkedIn identity. Click on the edit button and replace the jumble of pre-formed letters and numbers with your name. (Example: www.linkedin.com/in/catherinedriscoll) This is a hyperlink that goes directly to your LinkedIn profile. Since you want to boost your profile and connections, include this hyperlink on your website and at the bottom of your email signature. One click and new people can ask to connect with you via LinkedIn.
- The Skills and Expertise section is really important. The endorsements you receive from people are driven by the skills and expertise you say you have. So first, be sure you HAVE these skills and expertise. Don’t exaggerate. Add skills in order of importance to you because these will be the first things your connections will see. As you get more endorsements for a particular skill, that skill will automatically rise to the top of the list.
- On the topic of Endorsements, many people view them as great confidence boosters; others view them as fishing expeditions. Use them or not, they’re here to stay. It can’t hurt to endorse your colleagues for those skills at which they excel, nor does it hurt to be endorsed by others. Whether quid pro quo applies is a matter of personal preference.
- The Projects section is a great place to grow your LinkedIn profile as you become more versed. Use the Projects section to show collaboration with your LinkedIn partners and examples of your work. Be sure to tag your collaborators so that the projects will appear on their profiles too.
- The best way to receive great Recommendations from your colleagues is to provide recommendations for your colleagues. Before doing so, take a look at their skills and expertise, and be sure to use them in your recommendation, when appropriate. As always, be genuine.
2. Join Groups.
Groups on LinkedIn put you in direct contact with others who are interested in the same things you’re interested in, as well as provide opportunities for you to offer your expertise to their members. Once you have joined a group, you can communicate directly with its individual members before becoming actual connections. Groups keep you updated on news and info within your industry; provide you with valuable advice; spark ideas of new things you can offer your customers; and most important, allow you to meet and connect with colleagues and potential clients.
When choosing groups, don’t forget to look beyond the obvious. For example, if you have a cobble business and specialize in building brick patios, you would want to join industry groups to stay on top of advancements in your industry, but you would also want to join groups that attract homebuilders, architects, landscape companies, etc.
3. Get Involved.
Once you’ve been accepted into a group (some are open, some are not), it’s time to get involved. You are an expert in your field whether you realize it or not. So get out there and share what you know!
- While information overload can be a bad thing, be sure to choose to receive a “Daily News Feed” from your new groups for the first few weeks so that you can get to know the group and its members. (Settings – Groups, Companies, Applications – Set Frequency of Group Digest Emails). You can adjust these settings later.
- Listen, listen, listen. Do members of the group have meaningful discussions? Is it an active group with lots of new and valuable content, or are you seeing the same old discussions week after week? It’s not a bad thing to unsubscribe from a group that’s not relevant or helpful to you.
- Read through the Discussions, and if you have valuable advice or experience, post a reply to that discussion. PLEASE proofread what you’re posting! No one wants advice from someone who can’t spell or put a sentence together correctly.
- Be aware that posting a reply does not mean pitching your product or service. Some groups will simply kick you out if you do. But if someone is asking for advice about services that you and your business provide, reply that you would be happy to provide more detailed advice via private email and provide your email. If the person follows up, great! Then you can begin building a relationship.
4. Post Status Updates Weekly
Many business leaders look at LinkedIn activity as a bell-weather for how well connected someone might be within an industry. All those discussions you’ve commented on will prove your level of involvement and expertise. But it’s also important to post an informative Status Update at least once per week.
Yes, it’s true that LinkedIn is not Facebook and generally not the place for personal information. But there is value in posting your opinion or sharing personal experience in context with an interesting article, study, or offering.
For example, when posting a link to a new organizational tool that I’ve found valuable, I included this status:
Through this Status Update, I’ve positioned myself as tech savvy, connected personally with others who may share the same issues, and informed the audience that I’m writing a book.
Status Updates are also a great place to repurpose content. If you find an interesting article related to your business, include a link to that article and a brief description of what you find interesting about it. If the goal is to position yourself as an expert, you must offer a bit of yourself as well.
5. Start Digging.
The real value of LinkedIn is the ability to connect with people all over the world through shared interest and experience. The goal for business people is to turn those connections into opportunities.
Once you’ve joined a group, you can do in-depth searches of the people within that group to find opportunities. For example, if you’ve decided to focus on
lawfirm marketing, you might do a search within a group to determine how many of them are attorneys. If you’re sponsoring an event in the area that might appeal to attorneys, you might refine that search further to find attorneys who practice within 30 miles of the event location. Because you belong to the same group, you can send emails and begin making connections.
You can also download all of your LinkedIN contacts to your personal address book so that you can communicate more easily outside of LinkedIN. (Contacts, Connections, bottom right-hand corner, Export Connections)
LinkedIn is a powerful tool to develop sales and marketing leads. Building a great presence on LinkedIn takes time, but it’s time well spent. You just never know who might be listening.