LinkedIn may not be as flashy as Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, since it’s perceived as the more “professional” social networking site. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Many companies, especially those that sell to other businesses, use LinkedIn every day to generate leads for their products and services. Here are some strategies that you can employ to get leads with Linkedin for your business:
1. Use keywords in your profile – If you want your target audience to find you on LinkedIn, you need to include keywords in your profile, starting with your professional headline. You should also include keywords in your current and past occupations, professional summary as well as your skills & expertise.
One word of caution. Don’t be tempted to stuff your summary or past occupations with row upon row of keywords. This “black hat” SEO practice hurt websites on Google, and it’s very likely LinkedIn will also penalize profiles that engage in keyword stuffing. There’s no point in achieving a top ranking for a LinkedIn search, only to lose your prospect’s interest because they were turned off by the repetitive use of a keyword.
2. Add rich media to your profile – LinkedIn has made it easier to add video and presentations to your profile, so take advantage of this feature. If you have YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations or a PDF portfolio that promotes your product or service, upload them to your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn displays your rich media in a full-screen window called “Your Professional Gallery.” This is a golden opportunity to demonstrate to prospects why they should hire you or buy your products/services.
3. Endorse others – Another way you can generate leads for your business is with LinkedIn endorsements. This feature allows users to easily endorse a person’s skill(s) with the click of a button. Ideally, you want to accumulate as many endorsements for a particular skill(s) so that a prospect will see that you are proficient in a certain area. Endorsements aren’t showing up in LinkedIn search results yet, but they should be soon. The more endorsements you receive, the more often you will show up in the search results, the more trusted you will be, and the more leads you will potentially generate.
How do you get endorsements? You can ask your colleagues, clients and LinkedIn connections through an email or direct message. But a better strategy is to give them out yourself. Most people who receive endorsements turn around and endorse the giver. It’s a win-win a situation for both parties.
4. Participate in groups – Joining the discussion in a LinkedIn group is one of the best strategies you can undertake to generate leads. Notice I said, “joining the discussion,” not posting a link to your most recent blog article. Many people join LinkedIn groups thinking all they have to to be effective is to share articles with the other members. You can certainly do that. But a better strategy is to pose a question when you’re posting an article, in order to stimulate discussion. Or simply start a discussion without including a link. The goal here is to demonstrate your expertise on a subject and be a resource to the other members of the group. The more often you can provide useful information to the group, the more its members will begin to regard you as someone they trust. And of course, we all know that people do business with those they like and trust.
5. Start your own group – An even better strategy to generate leads is to form your own LinkedIn group, since this gives you instant credibility and establishes you as an authority in your niche. Among the benefits to being a group administrator is that you can send an email to your members once a week. This is an excellent opportunity for you to share information about upcoming events. You can also send group members (and prospects) tips and strategies to improve their business in the form of blog articles or ebooks. Sending these weekly emails helps you build rapport with the group.
You can also set up a welcome message that goes out automatically to new members. To make the most of this message, take the opportunity to thank the member for joining the group and include a link where they can sign up for your newsletter to receive more tips and advice.
6. Create a company page – One LinkedIn feature that many small businesses don’t take advantage of is the company page. Similar to a Facebook business page, a LinkedIn company page can be a powerful marketing tool. Make the most of your company page by adding a relevant cover image and including descriptions of your products or services. Ask your customers to recommend your products/services. And don’t forget to post regular status updates, images and presentations to keep your followers up to date on your company’s activities.
7. Prospect via messages/emails – There’s no reason you have to wait for a lead to contact you through LinkedIn. Be proactive and seek out prospects, and invite them to learn more about your business. Use LinkedIn’s search feature to find the best candidates. Once you’ve identified a prospect, look for commonalities that you share, such as a LinkedIn group. Then, send them a message or email, mentioning what you have in common as an ice breaker. Establish relevance by mentioning something that is currently “top of mind” with your prospect, such as a trade show, new product launch or industry survey. Finally, offer to send your prospect something that positions you as an expert in their eyes, such as an e-book or write paper you’ve written. And be sure to keep the email short and to the point. If you’ve done a good job, your prospect will respond positively, and you’ll be able to start the sales conversation.