WHAT IS LINKEDIN
LinkedIn was launched in May 2003 and now has 225 million users in more than 200 countries. The company went public in 2011 and is one of the fastest growing social sites in existence. When it started, it was known to be a site for people looking for new employment opportunities and the recruiters that sought them out. It has become so much more than that and should be considered one of your most important marketing strategies if your company sells its products and services B2B.
We recommend LinkedIn to our sales training clients as a social networking site for professionals. It allows individuals and companies to establish valued relationships, which is the basis of important business interactions. Those interactions most definitely could lead to sales where potential customers reach out to you as inbound inquiries and requests for more information on your product and services. I have focused my personal efforts on LinkedIn and found it to be an excellent business forum for owners, managers and professionals to establish new relationships and strengthen existing ones. Can I actually say that LinkedIn has brought me business? Most definitely. I can track the business brought in to the dollar.
WHAT CAN LINKEDIN DO FOR YOU?
- Give individuals and companies the perception that they are a Market Leader in their field, giving you distinction from your competitors.
- Establish relationships with potential customers who are currently looking for your product or service.
- Start relationships with future customers before they are interested in your services, giving you a distinct advantage when the time to purchase arrives.
- Foster repeat business and referrals.
- Create a network of contacts that can be a resource to you in time of need.
- Provide the opportunity for you to really focus on your corporate identity and clearly define your unique advantages.
WHAT IS THIS GOING TO COST ME?
This is the part you’ll like. Nothing monetarily. You can get many of the great benefits from LinkedIn for no cost. I subscribe to a Premium Account for $24.95 US per month. Here’s a link that will give you all the information:
You may find that your needs are well served with the free account. One of the best features of the Premium Account is that it allows you to see who’s viewed your profile. If I determine that the individual is someone that I want to connect with to start a business relationship, I send them a personal invitation.
This is the most important part of your LinkedIn efforts. Create a profile that attracts people to you. Ensure you get to 100% profile completeness. Time and creativity is your best investment in LinkedIn. The better your profile, the more of an expert you will appear to be. Your Profile is not the online version of your resume. Consider it to be your personal on-line brochure. Utilize every feature and component that LinkedIn throws your way, including Videos. Here’s my LinkedIn Profile to illustrate what can be done with time and effort. Please keep in mind if you are not a LinkedIn member, you may not be able to see all the features. If you are a member, you may have to log in.
Did it take me quite a few hours to create my Profile? Yes. Do I monitor it regularly and make timely changes when required? Yes. I consider it to be part of my marketing efforts. I consider LinkedIn to be as important as my website. Those two platforms are my showpiece, my best foot forward. My philosophy is Go Big or Go Home.
My best recommendation to you is to view the profile of one of the top experts on LinkedIn:
Melonie offers a free webinar and checklist that can really make your Profile stand out.
My profile is the result of the free services available through links on her Profile. I’m now receiving 25 – 30 viewings per week with about 10 Invitations per week with the occasional inbound request for more information on my services.
LinkedIn now allows you to establish a company profile. You’ll find them under the Interests Section in the Navigation Bar. You can also list your products and services with videos, courtesy of links to YouTube. Imagine your B2B company with a powerful corporate profile and your key staff with enticing individual ones. Do you think that potential customers might be attracted to your company illustrating that kind of presence? Here’s my company profile as an example.
ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
Would you be more enticed to start a business relationship with someone who had several recommendations? LinkedIn makes it easy to ask for recommendations. They add credibility and character to your Profile.
When sending out Invitations to Connect, I strongly suggest that you create your own personal invitation, not just the generic message that LinkedIn provides. After all, you are trying to establish the basis for a relationship with a business professional. Use a little creativity to entice the person to connect with you based on their occupation, current or past employer, educational background or something that you noticed on their profile.
How you interact with people on LinkedIn is vital. Don’t be the like the guy at a networking event or business function who passes out cards to everyone he meets. If you start selling your product or service to people who haven’t asked you for more information, you will immediately turn people off to you. Remember, we are talking about starting and strengthening relationships. Be sincere and authentic with people. Establish relationships based on value from their perspective – not yours. No personal agendas, no smoke and mirrors.
There are several interesting and useful groups you can join based on your profession, industry or areas of focus. Simply feed specific keywords into the Search Engine or look under the Groups heading in the Interests section of the Navigation Bar. You can even start your own group and invite your contacts to join. I created a group called THE SALES FLOOR giving sales minded professionals, Salespeople, and business owners an opportunity for business insight when they have a few minutes to spare.
I not only post THE PROSALESGUY BLOG on THE SALES FLOOR, I link great articles from leading business publications like the Harvard Business review, Success Magazine and Inc. I want professionals to have free access to great material from one centralized source that can help them improve their skill set and make their businesses more profitable and operate efficiently. It’s obvious to see that my group is a natural extension of my training and consultancy business and source of connecting with business people.
A POWERFUL BUSINESS FORUM
You can easily see why I call LinkedIn a Business Forum for professionals who wish to connect with business people. I strongly suggest you consider making it part of your B2B efforts. If you have any questions about LinkedIn, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.
Establishing corporate and individual profiles on LinkedIn is part of our sales training process. Should you have an interest in any of our training programs, please click the appropriate link on our home page.
Dave Warawa PROSALESGUY