Mark Lerner, from Octopost, sent me this infographic a few weeks ago and I promised to share it with you because I live the value of LinkedIn for lead generation.
And, I guess I’m not doing so badly — looking at the message I got from LinkedIn recently.
Today, I thought I’d share some strategies I find work best when using LinkedIn for lead generation.
LinkedIn for lead generation
LinkedIn suffers because it’s just not as sexy as Facebook or Twitter — you don’t sit on it all day sharing angry cat memes or trashing celebrities and athletes. No, LinkedIn is decidedly stodgy by comparison; resulting in far fewer users than other social networks.
Overlooking LinkedIn is a major mistake; however. That’s because LinkedIn is where business happens online. Recruiters love the job search tools on LinkedIn that allow them to track candidates and find talent, according to Bloomberg. Job listings account for some $138 Million of 2012 revenue for LinkedIn.
LinkedIn’s major strength is its ability to help generate and cultivate leads.
In preparing this post, as I always do, I searched published posts and news articles related to using LinkedIn for lead generation. What I found was particularly thin, compared to the vast array of articles available on using Facebook and Twitter. I did find interesting lists of LinkedIn actions on Social Media Examiner, Small Biz Trends, and Hubspot.
Here’s my strategy for using Linked for lead generation:
Obviously, you need a profile, but you need a profile supporting your lead generation efforts, not just any profile.
- make sure you complete the entire profile — yes I know this is a lot more time-consuming than on other social networks. You can import your resume (on vitae, in my case) to reduce the time necessary.
- ensure you make good use of the section below your name by using keywords. Notice mine doesn’t tout my position (which has its own place) but is loaded with keywords and my services. If you’re searching for someone to do social media analytics, you’re more likely to find me this way than if I listed my agency name, Hausman & Associates, here. My employment is now listed as current and previous.
- fill out your summary and employment sections using active words (and keywords) and highlighting accomplishments, not positions. Remember, online users are very visual, so include PowerPoint presentations, videos, and other elements to create visual interest.
- Connect to Box or other cloud storage app to automatically bring in white papers or presentations loaded there.
- Unless you’re a major business leader, I recommend keeping your LinkedIn profile pretty open. Remember, you’re using LinkedIn for lead generation, so the more folks who can connect with you, the better.
Notice on the infographic below, groups convert at higher rates than other places on LinkedIn. But, that’s not the only reason for joining groups.
- Groups give you opportunities to connect with leaders and potential customers in your industry
- Groups provide discussions that keep you up-to-date on what’s happening in your industry and allow you to emerge as a leader
- Many groups are now open which means they can turn up in a Google search
- You can form your own group and invite leaders and prospects to join in a discussion about your industry
- Groups enhance your online networking. If you can’t connect with someone directly, likely someone in your group can get you an introduction
Content is the key to any social media strategy and LinkedIn is no exception. And, just like other social networks, refrain from being salesy in the content posted.
Instead, post content your prospects find valuable — how-to’s, news, trends, research. Creating posts that ask questions then sharing the results is a great tool for engaging folks on LinkedIn.
Connect your blog to automatically update on LinkedIn each time you post.
Build your social network
Building your social network is critical for success in using LinkedIn for lead generation. No one “hears” you unless they’re connected (or search for your keywords).
A word of warning, however. Don’t accept LinkedIn’s default invitation. Use hand-crafted LinkedIn invitations that remind the invitee of how you’re connected. For instance,
It was really great meeting you last night at the XYZ meetup. I found you’re insights valuable. Please join my LinkedIn network so we can continue our conversations.
- The first step in building your social network is to invite your email contacts to join your network.
- Next, spend some time going through LinkedIn’s suggestions for appropriate connections. I usually spend a few minutes each day working to expand my LinkedIn network.
- When someone joins your network, you get a list of their connections in the confirmation. I use my connections to further build my network as many are in the same industry and need my services.
- As you meet folks at events, ask them to join your LinkedIn network.
- Ask folks you meet in group discussions to join you.
- Sign up for LinkedIn premium. Premium allows you to send invitations to users you’re not already connected with — either through offline networking, group membership, or existing connections. My admin goes through a list of folks based on desired keywords, positions, location, and company size and sends invitation requests.
Using LinkedIn for lead generation also involves engaging influencers. Just because someone joined your network, doesn’t mean you have the right to spam them, which is a growing problem on LinkedIn. Some users refrain from accepting any invitations coming from someone with “sales” in their profile. As complaints grow, expect LinkedIn to strongly enforce its terms of service that prohibit spam. Act proactively by avoiding spam or your account may be suspended.
When you find good prospects, invite them to connect then share great content with them. If it’s a good fit, they should come to YOU, rather than you having to go to them.
Rule #1: Don’t look stupid
If you decide to approach them, be sure to do your homework. Read about the prospect and his/ her company — what’s their business philosophy? What problems do they face? How can you help them with their problems? It always amazes me when I get an email offering to help with my social media or SEO — really? That’s what I do. Why would I hire YOU?
Rule #2: Provide value
Solve their problem. And, be specific about how you solve their problem.
Rule #3: Include an ask
Be sure to include instructions about the response you expect. Should the prospect call a sales rep? Should they sign up for your newsletter? Should they accept an appointment?
Rule #4: Soft close
I’m a big fan of the soft-close, but I think it’s particularly appropriate when contacting someone on LinkedIn. Pushy sales tactics just don’t work on social networks.
Rule #5: Don’t become a pest
Continued emails (inmail in LinkedIn parlance) are annoying. Before you contact a prospect, figure out the strongest approach strategy (see Rule #1). Likely you can only expect 1 ask, so make it count. That may mean spending some time cultivating the relationship before making the approach. A good strategy might involve joining groups the prospect actively uses. Post valuable content to these groups or engage in discussions on the content posted by the prospect rather than continuing to email the prospect.
Rule #6: Flattery gets you everywhere
Maybe this is just a corollary to Rule #5, but everyone loves flattery and few get offended when you praise their efforts. Keep up with what your prospects are doing and send them congratulations when they have a birthday, get a promotion or new job, or have a work anniversary (LinkedIn actually helps by sending you emails about these events). Go beyond this to read press about your prospects and send a quick email when they do something worthwhile.
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