Everyone knows that LinkedIn is arguably one of the top prospecting and business development tools available. It has helped salespeople get around the gatekeepers who once blocked their calls, letting them make direct contact with decision makers.
That’s great, but just making contact is not enough. LinkedIn is much more than a high-tech rolodex. It’s an effective weapon in your prospecting arsenal, and it’s important that you understand how to leverage your connections into bringing in more revenue.
LinkedIn 101: How to Network
With its millions and millions of members around the globe, LinkedIn is a huge pool of potential leads across every imaginable industry.
It would be nice to tell you that all it takes is to create a profile, and then sit back and wait for those prospects to find you. It would also be more than a bit misleading. You’re going to have to invest some time in learning – and then using – LinkedIn’s tools to make meaningful connections with qualified leads. Here’s how.
Invest just a few minutes a day clicking that “connect” button on the “People You May Know” list that hits your daily feed. You’ll broaden your network and, just as importantly, become known as someone who does so. Embrace the concept that everyone you meet or discuss business with on any given day is a potential LinkedIn connection.
Don’t connect with strangers.
That’s doesn’t mean to connect with every person LinkedIn suggests. You only want to connect with people that you have actually met. While everyone you meet can be a potential LinkedIn connection, don’t start randomly clicking on people just to add them to your network. Connect with people you actually know on some level.
If you, for example, met some great connections at a networking event and collected their business cards, send them a connection request a few days later. Just remember to include a message to remind them who you are and where you met them.
Ask for introductions.
If there is someone you’d like to connect with that you’ve never met, see if some of your current connections can help you out. As your network grows the odds are good that someone you are connected to knows the person you’d like to connect to. You can ask your connections to introduce you to people you haven’t met. When you’re viewing the profile of someone you’d like to connect with, but haven’t yet met, take a look at the right hand side of the screen. LinkedIn will show you what connections you have in common with that person, and will even allow you to ask for that introduction via a LinkedIn message.
Start following current clients and prospects.
Spend another five minutes a day checking up on a few current clients and top prospects. Do they have a company page? If so, follow and monitor it.
Try to share an update every day. You can share a video, article, or blog post that is relevant to your audience. You can even share posts from your Company Page. Updates are not about selling, though. Instead, find ways to add value and share your expertise.
Explore the best groups for you to join. They should have members who will benefit from your insights, leading them to become part of your network.
Write recommendations for your connections.
It serves three purposes: it aligns you with your contacts; it’s a good promotional strategy for your brand; and other people who are following your connections will look at their recommendations and discover you.
Check in with your own profile.
As you go in search of stellar profiles to make new connections, remember people are out there searching for you. Make sure you have an all-star profile of your own. Most LinkedIn profiles lack the most basic information. Be sure yours includes past and current experience, and education. Write a compelling summary that sets you apart from all the others in your industry. Have a professional and friendly headshot. LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, so no toasting-with-a-martini pictures, please.
The Key to LinkedIn Success
Invest a little bit of time in engaging on LinkedIn each day! You’ll start to notice a real gain in prospects and referrals. Repeat and see the same results.. Remember to stay involved, value quality over quantity, and keep it professional. You’ll soon find that you’ve perfectly positioned yourself as a resource that others will value.