If you are like most people, you’ve created a LinkedIn profile without knowing what to do next.
In fact, if you are like many business owners or professionals, you’ve neglected your profile and haven’t made any use of it.
You may think it’s not worth your time and effort to use LinkedIn or develop a LinkedIn marketing strategy. If this is the case, I want to share a couple of quick stats with you.
According to LinkedIn and LinkedIn State of Sales Report:
- over 80% of all B2B leads generated by social media come from LinkedIn
- 90% of top performing sales people now use social media as part of their sales strategies
- 79% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is an effective source for generating leads
Are you starting to see what a powerful 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?
You have done all the hard work to create a professional and compelling LinkedIn profile. But now what?
Do you sit back 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 for your business. In other words, it’s time to engage in social selling.
Below, I am sharing five essential steps to an effective LinkedIn marketing strategy so you can capitalize on social selling on LinkedIn.
The 5 Essential E's of an Effective LinkedIn Marketing Strategy
1. Explore opportunities
Begin your LinkedIn marketing strategy by exploring the opportunities provided by the platform. There are three main ways of doing this:
- use advanced search to find prospects
- go deeper with Boolean search
- review your contacts’ connections
You can also find many new opportunities by looking at the connections of your 1st-level connections on LinkedIn – these are your 2nd-level connections.
Start by searching your 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.
Your connections’ connections offer an additional opportunity for networking: that is to gain warm introductions.
Go to the profile of someone you know well enough to ask for an introduction. On their profile, click on See connections located in the top box on the right side.
Click All filters, located at the top, to narrow down the results. Here, you can use different filters to find your specific prospects.
For example, I could add VP Sales in the Title field and then, selecting only 2nd-level connections, search for prospects with that title.
This would provide me with a targeted list of possible prospects that my 1st-level connection Brian A. Finley could introduce me to because they are his 1st-level connections.
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. Here are some great ways to expand your network:
- send personalized connection requests to prospects
- connect with people you’ve recently met offline
- join LinkedIn Groups containing your target market
- connect 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 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 appropriately personalize your request in 300 or fewer characters (NOT WORDS).
Don’t forget to connect with people you have recently met offline, sending them your personalized connection requests as soon as possible after meeting them and reminding them where you met.
Although LinkedIn Groups are not talked about much anymore, they have a place in your LinkedIn marketing strategy. Because most people join groups only related to their industries, those groups are full of competitors. The real opportunity lies in expanding your network by joining groups your ideal clients belong to – even if they are not active in them.
You can join up to 100 different groups. Most of the groups you join should be the groups your clients belong to. One of the biggest reasons for this is when you search for prospects (or your prospects search for someone who does what you do), you will find people only 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 you engage with your connections and prospects so you can build rapport with them. Engaging with them on LinkedIn helps you get on their radars.
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 appropriate
A great first step is to begin a conversation with someone after they have accepted your connection request. You can thank them for connecting and perhaps ask a question, inspiring 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 relationships 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 to show genuine interest in them.
There are many ways to begin establishing relationships on LinkedIn:
- show interest in your connections by learning what’s important to them
- pay attention to the content your connections share and engage when appropriate
- always engage with those who like, comment on and share your content
- be a connector and introduce your connections to each other
It’s also important to reply in a timely fashion to any messages your connections send you.
Another great strategy is to engage those who have taken the time to read and like, comment on or share any of your status updates or LinkedIn Publisher posts. These are great opportunities to start building the foundations of relationships with those who are engaging with you.
Finally, you can be proactive and employ reciprocity in your LinkedIn strategy. Introduce two of your connections to each other if you think they could benefit from it. Helping your connections find each other builds trust, and they may 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 up the know, like and trust factor with your connections and prospects.
How do you build your authority on your topic? You do this by:
- providing valuable content
- sharing content consistently
Providing content that your prospects derive value from – content that directly addresses their problems or challenges – is the best way to help position you as an expert.
This includes sharing both content you have created and content others have written – curated content.
In fact, I have created an entire content marketing roadmap, which will help you understand what kind of content to share and when to share it to strengthen your relationships with your prospects.
When deciding the type of content you should share with your prospects, 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 great ideas to start producing content your prospects need and want.
Just as significant as what you share is the consistency of your sharing. If you share content only once in a while, randomly, you will fail to create the same level of authority or trust as a consistent content creator will.
This is why it is so important to complement your LinkedIn strategy with a specific LinkedIn action plan.
Wrapping up your LinkedIn marketing strategy
By following the strategy I have laid out in this article, you can create a LinkedIn lead generation plan that will help bring in more leads and sales for your business.
Each of the five steps consists of the highest leveraging social selling activities on LinkedIn, producing consistent and reliable results. They are also most important when building relationships – a vital part of a successful business today.
I would like to leave you with two more pieces of advice.
Avoid making these two mistakes that can halt your progress:
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 want to avoid rushing the relationship-building process and diving right into a sales pitch, your goal should be to move the conversation offline because most B2B sales happen offline. To get to that point, however, you need to get your prospects to know, like and trust you first.
Do you have a LinkedIn profile 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.