You’ve probably heard that LinkedIn is a great way to do business & get sales but have no idea how to use it. Today we’ll answer that question.
- Carve Out TimeThe trade-off with the “free marketing” of social media is time. What you save in dollars you spend in hours. LinkedIn will be profitable for you if you carve out the time to use it effectively. Just 20 minutes each day is all you’ll need to see success.
- Build Your NetworkThis item is crucial to expanding your reach and getting discovered by people who need your services. An important component in showing up in the results is if you’re connected to that person. The bigger your network, the more likely it is you’ll show up.
- Optimize Your Profile with KeywordsIf you search for “SEO Expert” on LinkedIn, there is a good chance I’ll be in the top 3 in your search. I have that phrase in my headline, current & past work experience, summary & specialties. Do the same and you’ll start ranking high instantly.
- Use a Professional PictureNot having a picture on your profile is a death sentence. People like to see who they’re talking to and who they’re engaging. A professional photo does that for you. We’re judged by our appearance. But your photo should also reflect you and your business. If you’re a professional advertising firm seeking new clients, your picture from spring break 2002 probably isn’t appropriate. If you own a surf shop, a more casual photo may work for you.
- Make Every Interaction PersonalEvery time you send out an invite you need to add a personal message to it. Avoid the default language from LinkedIn because most people don’t change it and you’ll blend it. Every time someone asks you to connect, reply with a personal message saying “thank you” and telling them a little bit about yourself that isn’t on your profile.
- Prioritize Your ContactsNot every connection you make is equal. Take time to look at their profiles and read what they have to say about their job, their careers and their life. Is this someone that will be a good prospect or referral source for you? Create a spreadsheet with the person’s name, contact info, job info and mark them as an “A” contact. “A” contacts are the creme-of-the-crop. The next level is the “B” followed by a “C” and then everyone else. You should have no more than 50 “A” contacts, 100 “B”s and 200 “C”s.Then make a “touch” on your A-contacts every two weeks, every month for your Bs and every quarter for your Cs. A touch is a contact point. This can be replying to a tweet, sending an email, dropping a postcard in the mail, sharing an article or giving them a phone call to say hi. The goal is to stay top-of-mind while not being intrusive.
- Don’t Kiss on the First DateUnless the person is asking for a proposal, don’t try to sell a contact the moment you connect. The reasons should be obvious but if you’re like me, you get these in your inbox every single day. People do business with people they know, like and trust. After a couple of months of “touches” ask your connections to buy. You’ll see a huge jump in the number of qualified leads you have and the number of sales you make.
- Complete Your Own Profile in Great DetailUse 95-100% of the characters LinkedIn gives you for each section. Provide lots of detail – even if you think it’s too much. You get 2,000 characters for your summary, 500 for your specialties, 100 for the position title and 2000 for your position description. Using all of them will give prospects and others looking at your profile a detailed look at your expertise and will help you rank higher in the search results. Add all of your jobs in your professional career going back to your internship, even if it was 40 years ago.
- Update Your Status on a Regular BasisDoing this keeps you in the feed of those in your network. For those connections you already know (like a hot prospect) you’ll be top-of-mind. For those connections that you don’t have a deep relationship with, they’ll see your name and hopefully remember you when they need something. Additionally, if you ever post a blog or post an interesting bit of information you may hit upon a need they have and they’ll contact you with the plan to hire you to fill that need. Of course, this only works if you’re showing up in everyone’s feed. This is easy to change: Go to “Edit my profile” and edit your activity feed on the right side. You’ll be taken to a new screen and you’ll have the option to change to whom you want to show your member feed activity. Change this to “Everyone”. There is no reason not to.
- Join and Participate in GroupsThis is a great way to connect with other people in your industry and in your market niche. Here you can share ideas, discuss trends, help others with issues they may be having, get help on things you’re stuck on, and find new business opportunities. You’re probably heard the mantra that you need to give before you can get. This is very true on LinkedIn. If you go in and start posting links telling people they need to buy XYZ from you you’re going to be largely, if not completely, ignored. People don’t know who you are and don’t know if you can be trusted. You burn a lot of trust equity by simply asking people to give to you, in this case their money, without ever giving anything away. But, if people see you’re participating in the discussion, then they start to see you have credibility and you start to earn trust equity. That way, when you do have something you’d like to sell, people don’t see you as someone who is just blasting the group with a sales offer; you’re seen as a valued member of the community.You can join up to 50 groups so you can get plenty of variety. Look for groups that fit your niche as well as some of your interests. Be sure that you join several of the very large groups on LinkedIn because this will help expand your reach in the search results. I have over 12,000 personal connections and one of the groups I’m in has over 200,000 people. Inevitably many of these people are already going to be in my network but some won’t be. By joining large groups I not only have a large group of people whose brain I can pick but I also increase the chances I’ll show up in someone’s search results. They’ll also see my posts and go to my amazingly-detailed profile and add me as a connection or, better yet, hire me for a project.Starting a group also builds your credibility. We’ll go over what goes into a good group in a future post.