You should already have one
Any savvy business owner or entrepreneur knows that having a LinkedIn profile is critical, but how do you utilize your presence in such a manner as to make the connections that will benefit you most?
Being more strategic about your biz
The new LinkedIn App which was released this year makes it easier to connect to a professional network by streamlining the mobile experience. You still need a strategy to maximize your time and efforts in establishing leads and building relationships for your business through LinkedIn, which now has over 400 million members. LinkedIn reported last year in that 80 percent of business to business (B2B) leads were through their platform, according to an analysis by social media marketing platform Oktopost.
The full guide (strap in, guys!)
The great news is that there are plenty of successful entrepreneurs who share their tips so you don’t have to struggle through trial and error. That’s where influencers such as Crazy Egg and Hello Bar co-founder Neil Patel comes in. He leads readers through a thorough step-by-step guide on Quick Sprout to generate leads from LinkedIn on his blog.
If you are interested in generating B2B needs then will want to read his full article, but here’s a summary of his six step strategy with some of my observations:
Step #1. Optimize your profile for connecting
Patel emphasizes the importance of your first impression, which is can be made through 3 different ways – name and picture, tagline and title, and a message.
Having a professional photo is absolutely critical to show that you are a legitimate and credible person. Selecting a title that targets the specific position you would like to connect to is important if you want someone to check out your full profile.
Step #2. Create your own group
This step was an Eureka moment for me.
Patel states that “You’re going to invite potential leads to join the group you created. You’re going to leverage the group to get more connections and get more leads.” The key is to create a group that will “benefit your potential customers” and if you sell to local businesses, Patel further states that “it’s a good idea to add a location to the name of the group as well.”
A caveat that I would make is to confirm that a similar group does not exist. Also be cautious if using a name that is too narrow of a scope, or is related to a proprietary name both in the private and non-profit sectors.
Step #3. Create your hit list of potential customers
Patel suggests setting a goal of compiling a list of 500 – 1000 potential leads. While that number may seem a bit daunting when a LinkedIn milestone is to have at least 500 connections, Patel reminds us that LinkedIn has over 400 million users.
He suggests using LinkedIn’s built-in search function and to select for title, location, and industry.
The title is significant in B2B sales as you’re “typically targeting the same level of employee/employer in each company” according to Patel.
While location can be important for some service providers, for web and application development sector this feature may not be as relevant if remote services are acceptable. Based on Patel’s example, a search I ran for “Chief Technology Officer” in six related information technology industries resulted in over 47,000 results. I then fine-tuned to the specific keyword of “Postgres” to determine who had knowledge of this database programming language, which narrowed down to over 200 results. For the purpose of creating a group, these keywords are too refined but this search does provide a starting list that can be put into a spreadsheet.
Step #4. Make initial contact with each member
This step takes the longest – contacting every person on the “hit list” by using the basic connection invitation – and involves refining earlier steps including #1 of creating your profile headline and photo. Incorporating your group that you created will “establish your credibility” in their industry according to Patel, as well as crafting a first impression to will improve your acceptance rate are critical steps. I agree with Patel that making a personal connection by relating and referencing to something from that individual’s profile.
One of the most enlightening points of Patel’s post is on how to send the request effectively. I’ve often struggled with which selection to make, especially if it requires the person’s email address which may have changed from previous contact. Patel recommends selecting the “Friend” option, because “Don’t worry about looking weird to users because you picked the friend option—they will never see it. That information seems to be for LinkedIn only.”
Don’t send too many invites out at once as you could trigger spam alert – monitor your acceptance rate and refine your method.
Patel recommends aiming for a 50% acceptance rate.
Step #5. Continue to engage
To summarize Patel’s recommendations in Part #1 of this step for member engagement:
- Invite your new connections to your group
- Be active in your group
- Post content from tools and industry news – search Google or set alerts
- Comment, like and share others posts
- Track who does and doesn’t join your group, and re-invite later once your group is full active
As for making personal connections, Patel emphasizes to “forget about turning them into leads” and instead focus on building a relationship by sending messages through LinkedIn. To avoid coming across too strong, send several messages over a period of 2 – 3 months to a connection before soliciting a sales call. These messages can include a follow-up/thank you for connecting, useful resources, and references to interesting group discussions.
Step #6. Get off LinkedIn
It’s easy to be caught within the spider web of LinkedIn, between the multitude of groups, updates from connections, new posts, and more. Budget your time accordingly, but engage and foster your new and current connections in person when possible. Webinars and phone calls are great options, but if you can schedule some one-to-one time, even better! Take advantage of local networking events and conferences to engage your LinkedIn connections in real life to find real success with your B2B sales.