There is no question about LinkedIn's popularity or influence in the business world. According to available statistics, LinkedIn continues to grow in popularity. It currently has 675 million monthly users and 30 million companies. This means that 12% of the world's population has a LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn has emerged as the premier business social network because its various features have allowed it to be perfectly used for relationship-building purposes. Indeed, these days, anyone involved in sales or marketing would be foolish to avoid using LinkedIn for this exact reason. However, just like anything else, there are some ways that LinkedIn can be used perfectly for sales...and then there are techniques and tactics that will get the digital door slammed in your face.
Here's a look at the various ways you can use LinkedIn to sell products and build a better connection with customers.
The core feature of LinkedIn is the ability to connect with others. Doing so allows you to get you to know them better, understand their needs, and build stronger relationships in the real world. However, you can only allow someone to get to know you if you fully set up your profile. This means that you should fill in all of the various facets of your profile, including your work history, education, licenses and certifications, and more.
Furthermore, LinkedIn allows you to add or remove certain sections of your profile. To do so, click on the "add profile section" widget on the top right portion of the screen. From there, you can add different sections about you, including skills, accomplishments, and additional languages you speak.
However, when setting up your profile, remember this key point: The goal of your LinkedIn profile is not to brag. It's to give potential contacts a chance to better understand who you are. Keep that thought in mind when choosing what attributes to highlight and the language that you use when discussing yourself.
As noted above, the core feature of LinkedIn is its ability to allow you to connect with others. Indeed, these connections are key.
Thankfully, LinkedIn has various ways to allow you to hook your established network and formally connect with others on LinkedIn. You can also search for people and make conscious efforts to connect with them. For example:
Import Your Contacts
Click on the "My Network" button, then look in the lower-left portion of the screen. You will find a section called "add personal contacts." You can type in your Email address, and from there, LinkedIn will scan your Emails, match contacts and give you the option of connecting with someone on LinkedIn. This is a great way of taking your already established network and connecting with them on LinkedIn.
Use Business Cards Appropriately
When you get someone's business card, look them up on LinkedIn. If they have a profile, add them. This helps ensure that you build a stronger connection with someone and can use their contact information for more than just sitting in your digital address book.
Personalize the Message
When you do connect with someone on LinkedIn, a standard greeting is displayed: "I'd like to connect with you on LinkedIn."
Don't use this message.
The vast majority of LinkedIn connections come with this message, which means that using it is a great way to get lost in the crowd. Instead, add a personal note, referring to when you met the person and what you discussed. If it's useful, follow up and add if that person wants to get together for a cup of coffee or talk at a later date. This will jog their memory of you and make it more likely that you can form a meaningful relationship with that person.
One of the challenges of attending networking events is that it often involves a self-selected group of individuals. You tend to see the same people at each mixer, and that can make it difficult to grow your business and expand your network. LinkedIn, thankfully, can assist with this issue, thanks to its robust group function.
Groups tend to come in various shapes and sizes on LinkedIn. However, broadly speaking, groups come down to a few different flavors.
Regardless of what type of group you are in, participate, and don't sell. Instead, share articles on local events and ask questions. Solicit feedback, and if you are qualified, give free information or knowledge. Don't sell and don't be controversial - discussing politics or elections on LinkedIn is the fastest way to alienate half of your audience.
However, if you have useful information to share, do so. This will enable you to position yourself as an expert in your field, and someone who others may then think of when they need services in your industry. Furthermore, if and when you meet someone from a LinkedIn group in person, they will already be familiar with you, making it easier for you to build a fruitful, real-world relationship.
It is important to always keep in mind the ethos of LinkedIn when using the service. LinkedIn is meant for expanding your professional Rolodex, connecting better with your colleagues, and building stronger relationships. Sales, of course, is an important component of this. However, that does not mean that you should oversell on LinkedIn. Doing so guarantees failure. Examples of overselling include:
Of course, you are using LinkedIn to make more money. That is perfectly acceptable. What isn't acceptable is using any of the tactics above in an effort to oversell. No one likes that.
Instead, use LinkedIn to show your value and prove your expertise. There are absolutely ways that you can use LinkedIn in this manner and ultimately position yourself as a knowledgable expert in your field who can assist individuals. Examples of specific tactics you can use include:
The use of LinkedIn's basic services is completely free, and the network makes money on paid advertisements. However, there are paid options that you can take advantage of. A brief summary of these options is as follows:
These options aren't cheap: They run from $29.99 a month to $120 a month. However, depending on your needs and your financial resources, you may find that spending money in this area is an investment that pays itself back many times over.
Using LinkedIn on a casual basis is easy, but really digging in deep on it can be more difficult. Thankfully, there is a variety of free training available that can really allow you to enhance your LinkedIn skills and better utilize the network to make more money.
For example, if you want to learn more from the experts and how to better use LinkedIn for Sales, make sure to check out Harrison Baron's LinkedIn Sales Navigator Success training. This training is specifically geared around using LinkedIn's Sales Navigator program, one of the paid features that helps you to build your sales pipeline. As such, this training offers guidance on how to identify prospects, create lead lists, find companies that match your sales needs, and use LinkedIn's InMail system. If you are interested in expanding your LinkedIn network and skills, this free training from the experts can perfectly fit your needs.