If you are like most people, you may have created a profile on LinkedIn but are now unsure of exactly what to do with it or how best to use it.
In fact, if you are like business owners or professionals, it probably just sits neglected, and sometimes unused.
You may not be totally convinced that it is worth your time and effort to actually use LinkedIn or develop a LinkedIn marketing strategy. Now if this is the case, I want to share a couple of quick stats with you:
- Over 80% of all B2B leads generated by social media come from LinkedIn. (Source: LinkedIn)
- 90% of top performing sales people now use social media as part of their sales strategy. (Source: LinkedIn State of Sales Report)
- 79% of B2B Marketers say LinkedIn is an effective source for generating leads. (Source: LinkedIn)
Are you starting to see the potential and how powerful a tool LinkedIn could be to help you generate more leads and sales for your business?
Now you might be thinking…
I have a LinkedIn profile, now what?
So, you have done all the hard work to create a professional and compelling LinkedIn profile. But now what?
Can you just walk away from it and wait for prospects to come to you?
Not at all.
Now is the time to start actively using your LinkedIn profile to generate more leads and prospects (aka social selling) for your business.
To help you achieve this, I am going to share five essential steps in developing an effective LinkedIn marketing strategy.
The 5 Essential E's of an Effective LinkedIn Marketing Strategy
1. Explore Opportunities
Begin your LinkedIn marketing strategy by exploring the opportunities that are provided by the platform. There are three main ways of doing this:
- Use advanced search to find prospects
- Go deeper with Boolean search
- Review the connections of your contacts
You can also find many new opportunities by looking at the connections of your own 1st-level connections on LinkedIn (these would be your 2nd-level connections).
Start by searching your own network by using the advanced search or scrolling through your connection list for ideal prospects. Often, your prospects will be connected to people who will also be good prospects and clients.
Seeing who your connections are connected to offers an additional opportunity, that is to gain warm introductions. With someone you know well enough to ask for an introduction, on their profile click on See connections, located in their top profile box on the right side.
This will open their connection list in the advanced search. Click All filters, located at the top, to tighten your search through their connection list. Here you can use the different filters to look for specifically for your prospects.
For example, I could add VP Sales in the Title field, and then selecting only 2nd-level connections.
This would provide me with a targeted list of possible prospects that Brian could introduce me to that he’s connected to.
2. Expand Network
It is important to expand your network on LinkedIn. Doing so allows you to find and be found by a much larger audience. Three great ways to expand your network include:
- Sending personalized connection requests to prospects
- Connecting with people you’ve recently met offline
- Join LinkedIn Groups that contain your target market
- Connecting with influencers and others with large networks
Important: Your Network = Your Net Worth
Once you have found a prospect you want to connect with, your next step is to send them a connection request. But do NOT just send the default connection request.
If you want to be successful, you must send them a personalized connection request. To do this well you must review their profile to learn a little bit about them so that you can appropriate personalize your request in 300 characters (NOT WORDS) or less.
Don’t forget to ask connect with people you have recently met offline, sending your connection request as soon as possible after meeting and reminding them where you met in your personalized note.
Although LinkedIn Groups are not talked about much anymore, there is a place for them in your LinkedIn marketing strategy. While most people only join groups related to their industry, these are full of your competitors. The real opportunity lies in expanding your network by joining groups that your ideal clients belong to… even if they are not active in them.
You can join up to 100 different groups, and most of the groups you join should actually be the groups your clients belong to. One of the biggest reasons for this is that when you search for prospects (or your prospects search for someone who does what you do) you will only find the people in your 1st, 2nd and 3rd-level networks or, if they belong to the same group.
3. Engage Connections
Growing your LinkedIn network is important, but that alone will not generate new leads, clients or sales for you. It is imperative that you engage with your connections and prospects in a so you can start to build rapport. Engaging with them on LinkedIn helps to get you on their radar. Some great ways to engage your new connections include:
- Engaging in conversation after connecting through a private message
- Commenting on their status updates and articles
- Sharing their content when relevant
A great first step to begin starting a conversation with someone after they have accepted your connection request. You can simply thank them for connecting and perhaps ask a question that will inspire further dialogue.
Whatever you do, do NOT include anything sales related in your messages. This will turn people off and will not be effective.
4. Establish Relationships
A vital part of your LinkedIn marketing strategy includes establishing a relationship with your connections.
I cannot stress enough the importance of building relationships with your prospects. People buy from people they know, like and trust, and the only way to get to that place is by showing genuine interest in them.
There are many ways to begin to establish relationships on LinkedIn:
- Show interest in your connections by learning what’s important to them
- Pay attention to the content your connections share, engage when relevant
- Always engage with those who like, comment and share your content
- Be a connector, introduce your connections to each other
You can really show interest in your connections by being engaged in what they are posting, sharing, and commenting on their posts.
It’s also important to reply in a timely fashion to any messages that your connections send you.
Another great strategy is by engaging those who have taken the time to read and like, comment or share any of your status updates or LinkedIn Publisher posts. These are great opportunities to really start building the foundation of a relationship with those who are engaging with you.
Finally, you can be proactive and employ reciprocity in your LinkedIn strategy by introducing two of your connections to each other that you think could benefit from knowing each other. Helping your connections like this will build trust and they may just be inclined to do the same for you if the opportunity arises.
5. Expert Positioning
The final step of your LinkedIn marketing strategy involves establishing your authority on your topic, which will significantly build the know, like and trust factor with your connections and prospects.
So how do you build your authority on your topic? You do this by:
- Providing value with great content
- Sharing content consistently
Providing content that your prospects will find value from – content that directly addresses their problems or challenges – is the best way to help position you as an expert. This includes content you have created as well as sharing content you have curated (content that others have written).
In fact, I have created an entire content marketing roadmap, which will help you to understand what kind of content to share when, in your relationship with your prospects.
When deciding the type of content you should share, consider these questions:
- What are they interested in?
- What is important to them?
- What problems do they face?
The answers to these questions will give you a great start to providing the content your prospects need and want.
Just as significant as what you share, is the consistency that you share. If you only share content once in a while, randomly, you will not create nearly the same level of authority or trust as a consistent content creator. This is why it is so important to have not just a LinkedIn strategy, but also a specific LinkedIn action plan.
Wrapping Up Your LinkedIn Marketing Strategy
By following the strategy that I have laid out, you can create a LinkedIn lead generation plan which will help to bring in more leads and sales for your business.
Each of the five steps consist of the highest leveraging social selling activities on LinkedIn, which will produce consistent and reliable results. They are also the most important when building relationships, which has become such a vital part of successful business today.
I would like to leave you with two further pieces of advice, or rather share two mistakes which can halt your progress. These two critical mistakes include:
Mistake #1: Rushing the process and going right into a sales pitch.
Mistake #2: Never moving the conversation offline or moving this process too slowly.
While you definitely want to avoid rushing the relationship building process and diving right into a sales pitch, you must balance this by not keeping the conversation online forever. Most B2B sales happens offline, so you need to make sure you move the conversation offline once you have established the foundations of a relationship, built on the know, like and trust factor.
Do you have a LinkedIn profile that you don’t take advantage of? If you do use LinkedIn, what does your LinkedIn strategy include? Let me know in the comments below.
Need help creating your own LinkedIn marketing strategy? Contact me to learn about the strategic approach I use to help my clients generate a consistent flow of leads and sales on LinkedIn.