I visited the Silicon Valley last month. Before going to San Francisco bay area, I had planned to spend few days in Phoenix city. While I was there, I wanted to understand the CPA (Certified Public Accountants) industry to explore opportunities to market our business accounting software. But, I had no clue about how to reach out to local CPAs.
I opened LinkedIn and searched for ‘CPA’ in Phoenix area. To my surprise, I found more than 8,000 contacts in that city. Then I started sending connection request to these contacts with a meeting request. Next day, 3 CPAs already agreed to meet me. I continued this for rest of the week and built lot of good connections all thanks to LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool and it can immensely help founders, sales executives, marketers and even developers. You can build connections and grow your business efficiently with LinkedIn.
Earlier I used this site just to maintain professional contacts but was amazed to use LinkedIn for business marketing. I’m sharing my learning in this in-depth post.
Here is a step by step guide to using LinkedIn for business growth!
Compared to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn may appear boring but the moment you cross the 15 minute mark on this website, you begin to realize that it is Narnia. In simple words, it’s much more exciting than you can ever imagine. You only need some time to leverage the power of this network to full effect.
LinkedIn is the best place for building connections with professionals. Even after so many years of its existence, the originality of the idea has not been challenged and me-too websites have fallen by the wayside or converted into personal networking.
LinkedIn classification of contacts into first degree, second degree, third degree contacts is a feature that few social networks offer. You can get to know as to how you are related to someone who is an opinion maker or influencer in your society and thereafter you can demand an introduction through the “Get an introduction” feature.
Empirical evidence has shown that most companies have begun to hire aggressively through LinkedIn as it helps them save costs and get a verified resource. Instead of paying a bomb to recruiters, they can hire easily through references in early stage of their growth.
Recruiters or placement consultants have also embraced LinkedIn and its 400 million user base for talent hunting. They purchase premium plans and tell human resource managers to save costs by outsourcing talent hunting to them. Most recruiters now focus on two domains through LinkedIn: either they scour for top management talent or they seek front line staff for customer-facing operations where low revenue per hire is offset by the huge volumes in which transnational companies hire.
In this article, I’m going to talk specifically on how to generate leads using LinkedIn.
Using Linkedin For Business Marketing – 12 Actionable Tips
1) Get the basics right
This means that you need to put up an appealing display picture that is recent and makes your look a thorough professional. The title of your role plays a strong role in deciding the popularity of your LinkedIn profile. Even if you are a man of many talents, you still need to be focussed and describe one aspect of your personality through which you want to get work.
As an entrepreneur, you need to pick one skill and highlight it. Sell yourself aggressively and add your portfolio to strengthen your case. Having a website of your own is a great professional branding tool. LinkedIn will ensure that your website address is visible to everyone and also your blog URL, Twitter handle and Facebook profile along with your email and contact number to those who are visiting your profile. With such information, your customers can call you directly and email you to inquire about your services.
The difference between successful and not so successful digital marketers is that they put up the maximum amount of information on the public domain. Filling out your profile takes time but this one time investment with honest answers offers dividends for a lifetime.
Recommendations from professional references whom you interacted with at each stage of your business career will help potential customers to trust you and the higher the references, higher the chances of you being selected for an important task.
2) Leverage the blog section to full effect!
As a publishing platform, LinkedIn offers the best content management interface for professionals to express their viewpoint. The white canvas is superb for writing and the best part is that LinkedIn adds its own set of royalty free images to each post, if the user does not add it himself. With a picture accompanying each post, chances are that more number of people will read it.
With features like commenting, liking, and visitor statistics being offered for each post, authors can measure the engagement accurately. They would get an idea as to what works and what does not work with their target audience.
Blogging is a great branding and rebranding tool as it helps gather a distilled audience that is highly competent, aware and understands the sharpness of the concept underlying each blog post.
Through each blog, you will create recall for yourself and if consistently good content reaches the inbox of users, then they will be interested in reading more and doing business with you as you will appear as a transparent resource.
Blogging is a non-intrusive form of persuasive marketing which customers love and keep coming back for more ensuring a strong lead pipeline. The more you write the greater will be the depth in your profile and more backlinks pointing towards your profile will be created, helping you reach the top of search results in LinkedIn. Try and blog about diverse topics as that will create enormous respect for you. And you will come across as an erudite professional with a clear cut opinion on all national and international issues. Your opinion will be sought after by both students and young professionals in the domain you operate.
3) Never underestimates the power of premium search filters
In most other advertising networks, marketers use a spray approach while disseminating advertising containing information about their product, service or brand to a very wide audience that may or may not always fetch the right results. But by applying filters, you can narrow down your marketing funnel to just the right kind of segments based on function, years of experience and seniority level.
Higher up the ladder you target; more will be the chances of your request being acted upon. You can identify these premium search filters with a gold LinkedIn icon on the left side of the search results.
- Function based filters, sieve profiles based on what members put in their current job titles. In case a professional performs two roles, one operational and the other entrepreneurial, then linked in categorizes them into its standard category as predefined in the system.
- Age: Here only the total years of experience is counted and not the name of the company or the industry.
- Seniority: Classification of professionals based on the positions held by them in a company can be done through this filter.
4) Create groups to sell better
This is perhaps the most under utilized feature of LinkedIn. Most users do not even know about it. By putting all your professional contacts in separate groups, you can address them better and generate more leads.
Initiate discussions from your end and write posts so that the group acquires a lively character. Once users see your activity in these groups, they will begin to respond and ask more about the repertoire of services being offered.
Never assume that the silent spectators in your group are not reading your stuff. They are definitely reading it and some people are shy of coming on public forums and prefer to observe things and learn from it. Even these people can source leads for you, if they see your dedication towards your business.
5) Status updates: The real goldmine
This is the area where you will really make a huge impact and that too better than others, if you know how to do it right. Status updates are short, swift 300 character messages that help LinkedIn users to describe any event, concept or preview of an article that they are going to share. These status updates should ideally be restricted to two per day.
First one should be around 10 am and the second one should be around 7 pm. The reason being that most users log into websites to see their mails and LinkedIn messages in the morning and the rest of the messages are checked while commuting back home or after dinner. Doing more than two updates will irritate your audience.
A better strategy will be to post twice a week but the content should outstanding so as to elicit a response from the users and help you command non-verbal respect through likes, shares and referrals. Avoid posting personal or family pictures.
6) Advanced LinkedIn features that you should not miss
These three small but powerful functionalities will help you develop a hit list of sales prospects and each time to view the profile. You will be reminded of the jewel point in his profile or any appointment with said person.
- Note: Simply write a one –liner describing the unique aspect of the person whose profile you have just read. This note is visible to you only.
- Tag: :In case you want to share someone’s profile whom you find interesting with your friends, colleagues and business associates, then this will be very useful
- Reminder: As it is obvious, you can easily set reminders as to when you have to mail or call the person concerned.
7) Who’s viewed your profile: Sure-fire way to catch leads
This is the most mysterious and exciting functionality of linked in which users can access. Free users can get to know as to how many people viewed their profile in the past ninety days but not their identities. Only their work profile is displayed but premium users get to see their identity and can contact them instantly through In-mail.
8) Follow industry trends
Being up to date with industry trends will not only tell you about executive movement but also get a sharp insight about what the markets want. New technologies, best human resource practices that are being ushered in the industry and new markets that are opening up. You will also know about the amendments in the regulation being made by the legislature.
Moreover, some industries have a method of self-regulation in the form of a guild which issues guidelines for businesses operating in the industry. These guilds can be informal or may have official sanction and funding from the government. You can reach out to the members of the guild through LinkedIn to express your view point.
For Example, GST is a hot topic in India now. You can use LinkedIn to search for posts related to this topic. This offers a great way to generate leads using LinkedIn platform.
9) People you may know
Another outstanding feature that will help you connect with contacts that are in your address book. Since LinkedIn has been acquired by Microsoft, Hotmail contacts might appear as suggestions for people you may know. If you have imported other address books into LinkedIn, then people with similar profiles may also come in as suggestions.
I’ve noticed that LinkedIn learns from your activity and gets smarter while suggesting new contacts. For example, if I regularly search for ‘founders’, LinkedIn will suggest people who have ‘founder’ as their role or position.
Analyse these suggestions and see the ones that match your aspirations and start connecting with them using the messaging feature.
10) Explore referral opportunities
Getting in touch with senior alumni or your school, university or professional college is easy. Most of your alumni in your field may have already gone through the struggle that you are facing of building a business from scratch.
Alumni get together can be arranged and there is a certain degree of trust before any business transactions take place since both parties know the school of thought they have been brought up in. Communication in this case is more personal and it is a strong source of referral business.
Similarly, you can get connected with your existing customers and ask them for a referral.
11) LinkedIn ads: the most powerful tool in your arsenal
Undoubtedly, LinkedIn ads can elicit just the right kind of response you are looking for fro your digital marketing campaigns. Both self-service and managed campaigns are offered through the Campaign Manager utility. Perfect for both small and medium size businesses, just a LinkedIn account and a credit card is required to get started. You can define the start date of the campaign, the end date of the campaign and how much money are you willing to spend on pay-per click advertising.
Here’s what you get in your campaign
- Account targeting
- Display ad
- Dynamic ad
- Managed sponsored content campaigns
- Sponsored In-mail
When it comes to writing the text of the ads, keep in mind that brevity is the soul of wit. The shorter, the message with hard hitting copy, the more the chances of it being responded to with the call to action. It could be a phone call or filling up of a customer information form; in both cases, your lead pipe-line will become strong and topline growth will be assured.
Always have a dedicated landing page for each campaign that you run using LinkedIn ads.
This is the area where you will find like-minded people who might respect your point of view and give you the kind of market sensitive information that you need to tweak your products and services.
- Companies: Information shared by companies to be released in the public domain in the form of articles, press releases, blogs are posted here. most of these releases carry contact information of the public relation team and you can send them email about your product and service and they will be glad to connect with you, if it is in sync with their budget and preferences.
- Groups: When faced with real life challenges, most professionals prefer to put their dilemma here and wait for answers in the comments section. More like a discussion group the higher you post, higher visibility and enquiries about your services will come.
- Slide share: Witness the best slide share presentations of the day and you will get phenomenal insights about your industry. A power point presentation is the fastest way to disseminate information and one can easily learn innovative ways to present a specific concept that otherwise may be very hard to understand.
Last but not the least, one must remember that LinkedIn has a rarefied audience that is eager to absorb information, and is open to new possibilities both in learning and career development. Just by sitting at your desk, you can connect with global business leaders, see their entire career profile and explore business opportunities with them. Such an amazing repository was unthinkable in the previous century. No wonder sequoia capital was the first one to pick up stake in the company and its bet paid off spectacularly as linked in gained 400 million plus users worldwide.
Try these techniques today, you are sure to get delighted with your lead pipeline filling up fast.
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