Now more than ever, business relationships are launched in cyberspace. This new reality makes LinkedIn absolutely essential for lead generation. But as you know from being on the receiving end of lots of sales messages on LinkedIn, there are far more people doing a bad job of generating leads on LinkedIn than people who do it well.
How do you do it effectively? Follow these five simple steps, and you will produce leads and fill your pipeline with quality relationships launched on LinkedIn.
Polish Your Profile
When people meet you for the first time in the virtual world, you need to be as impressive and charismatic online as you are in person. Give as much thought to how you present yourself on LinkedIn as the way you would for an important presentation.
Your LinkedIn profile is a way for you to frame the way people think about you and explain what drives your unique selling proposition.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile tells the story you want prospects to know. Your profile should be written to prospective customers – not to people who might want to hire someone like you. What are the essential components of every sales conversation you have? Make sure all of them are included in your profile.
The principles of know, like, and trust apply online. Make sure your profile includes details that show your expertise and credibility. And, go beyond that to show who you are as a person, not just what role you have in your business. Prospects need to see that they can trust you.
Don’t forget, not everyone will search for you by name. Make sure you are findable by people who are searching for someone like you. Think of your profile as a keyword optimization tool and write a profile that includes the keywords your prospects are likely to be searching on – phrases related to the problems you solve, the type of people you serve, and the category of solution you offer.
Be Strategic & Intentional
As the saying goes in life, so it does online: Anything worthwhile takes time. When you use LinkedIn for lead generation, understand that leads won’t magically appear in your inbox. Use LinkedIn to meet the right people and build relationships that develop into leads and referrals.
Introduce yourself to ideal customers in a personalized way. LinkedIn says that users are more likely to accept connect requests that include a personal note. Your initial communications should point out something you have in common, or simply offer a positive comment on something related to the prospect. Don’t start selling immediately and try to move conversations offline. Instead, build a rapport that makes a face-to-face discussion a natural next step.
Find other professionals who can make referrals or introductions to the people you want to meet. Identify influencers who are respected and followed by your customer base, follow them, and engage intelligently with their posts. This gets your name in front of potential leads, as you slowly, yet steadily, build your credibility.
Experiment to find what is effective for you. When you search for new connections, try different search criteria and experiment with different messages. At ProResource, we use a test matrix to systematically validate which messages are most effective at getting people to respond to your unique selling proposition.
Try the LinkedIn “dance.” The LinkedIn dance, you ask? That friendly game where you look at a profile, in hopes that person will look back at yours, so you can lay the foundation for a conversation or a connect request.
Leverage the power of LinkedIn Influencers. The executives LinkedIn tags with this designation have large followings on the social media platform and generally post on a regular basis. When you engage with Influencer posts, you potentially put yourself in front of an Influencer’s social media network.
The same holds true with groups, hashtags, and pods – anything that has the potential to increase your exposure on LinkedIn. (What is a LinkedIn pod? Pod members agree to regularly engage with social content posted by other pod members, which furthers the reach of everyone’s messages. But be careful using the word “pod” as LinkedIn doesn’t approve of pods.)
As LinkedIn offers new features, try them out. Have you experimented with putting a brief elevator pitch along with your name in the name pronunciation field? Or sending a photo, gif, voice recording, or video in a message?
It’s essential to try new things because often what works offline doesn’t work in social media. And LinkedIn is not Facebook, Facebook is not Twitter, and Twitter is not Instagram. Every social media platform has a different style and tone; your messages should be customized on each site. And finally, don’t assume what worked last year will work this year. Be open to new ideas.
Stay in Touch
As mentioned in a previous tip, it takes time to build quality business relationships, so stay in touch. Show your connections you are giving them the gift of your attention. Like their posts, congratulate, comment, and offer help.
Be consistent with your online presence, with regular status updates, blog posts, and videos that demonstrate your expertise. This builds credibility and helps you maintain mindshare.
Once someone expresses interest in your online material, be persistent and patient about getting them into a conversation. It usually takes multiple touches to get a call on your calendar. Show that you are paying attention, you understand what matters, and you are ready to help.
Don’t assume people are interested in your products and services just because they have accepted your connect request, and certainly don’t mislead people about why you want to connect. A new connection is not an invitation to sell. Invest more time in a relationship before you try to move it further into your funnel. You’ve spent time building trust, don’t squander it by being pushy and assumptive about advancing a conversation.
Have a Call to Action
When you feel the time is right, make your first ask. The smaller and easier the step is, the more likely prospects are to say yes. Provide all of the necessary information and tools to complete the ask, such as URLs or email addresses.
You want to move people off LinkedIn into a conversation, but decision-makers do not have time for lengthy, get-to-know-each-other chats. Give prospects a compelling, relevant, and timely reason to talk to you. Make it clear how they will benefit from the conversation, whether or not you end up working together.
You can also offer something of value that is not easily available, or an item they would normally have to pay for, such as access to a research report or participation in an event.
Put It All Together
LinkedIn as a lead generation tool is an investment. Like a business deal, it takes time, patience, and strategy to yield results. Yet armed with these essential tips, LinkedIn can help you accelerate the growth of your business relationships, and ultimately generate significant new revenue for your business.
Use this LinkedIn Checklist to make sure your LinkedIn presence is designed for successful lead generation.