This blog goes to the millions of people on LinkedIn, and the millions of others that should be.
Ben Kniffen, director of campaign management for LinkedSelling.com, was the featured speaker at a recent meeting hosted by the BMA-St. Louis. He and his team help organizations increase sales by teaching them how to use LinkedIn effectively.
Ben presented his company’s successful approach for using LinkedIn for business development efforts which I list below. I want to stress that this plan is based on building trust and not about spamming your connections. By providing useful information you can become a valued source. However, if you use LinkedIn as another way to push your sales messages, your efforts will result in offending your targets and, in my opinion, lead to minimizing LinkedIn’s potential for everyone else. Some of Ben’s top suggestions are included below.
Targets and optimization
Develop a profile of who you want to reach.
Decide who could best benefit from your products/services and build a list. LinkedIn has a powerful Advance Search feature that will allow you to target individuals by title, industry, and location – even if you don’t have a Premium subscription.
If you are not a paid subscriber, LinkedIn is limiting the number of profiles you can view when using the Search feature. Because of this, Ben suggests joining groups that match your target’s interests. Once accepted into a group, you have access to all group members. Click on the Members feature within the group and then you can search to find titles and locations that appeal to you.
Develop a target list.
Select a reasonable number of people you would like to get to know. LinkedIn doesn’t have a way to store these names so you will have to copy/paste their names and profile url to a separate list. With this list developed, now it is time to decide what information you can provide that will benefit these individuals and develop a content calendar.
With your targets selected and your profile optimized, now it’s time to start your Lead Generation efforts.
Work on your own profile.
Just as in the off-line world, people want to know people that are likeable and who they perceive as being someone worth knowing. Ben states the two most important aspects of your profile are your photo and headline. He recommends a photo that looks friendly, and not foolish. He showed several profile images that he felt were not appropriate for a business forum. Regarding headlines – most people list job titles. This does nothing to differentiate these people from the thousands of other people with the same title. So Ben recommends creating a title that is different and implies some benefit to why people should engage with you.
Since attending this presentation, I updated my profile and would love to hear your feedback. Please visit me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/dandiveley and let’s connect!
Develop a content calendar.
Spend time to determine what issues are important to your target audience and then find information that will provide knowledge to help them. A content calendar should be developed that includes the subjects, links and the dates you want to post this information. This will help you stay on track and ensure you are communicating consistently with groups and individuals.
Share content with your groups.
People join these groups to advance their knowledge. It is important to contribute to the group’s discussions to build trust and name recognition. Read the discussions and respond to any that you can provide useful information to – either your original content or a link to a relevant article. Ben suggests posting a discussion one or two times a week in each group. His rule of thumb is: 90% of the time you should repost someone else’s content, and 10% your original content.
Be careful to not push sales messages. Decision-makers are smart and they can recognize a sales pitch. Posting sales messages will not only turn away people who might have a need for your product, but also if you are posting in a locked group, the group’s owner may not publish your content.
Ask your targets for a connection.
If you are truly providing valuable information, and if your profile implies that you can help, reach out to your targets and request to connect. You will need a short explanation of why you want to connect and make sure there are no ‘sales’ messages in this first request. Once you make the connection, use the content calendar to push useful information to these new contacts. Ben suggests you continue to send information and monitor if you get any response before asking for a meeting. Use your best judgment to decide the frequency that you communicate with these new connections – don’t over-do it and definitely don’t spam them!
Monitoring and maintenance.
If your company does offer something unique that will benefit your target audience, and if you follow the steps listed, this system should work to help you engage in the types of organizations that fit your criteria. Monitor your results and adjust your approach as needed. Not all prospects will respond so move these names off your list and continue to find new targets.
For more help using LinkedIn
LinkedinSelling.com works with sales organizations throughout the US and in several other countries. They provide a range of services that can help you organize your LinkedIn efforts. If you are looking for ways to improve your outreach, or that of your company, please fill out the form below and I will connect you with Ben.