Grow Your Professional Network and Sales with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional, social networking tool which can help you build your professional network, drive leads or sales. You just have to know how to use it correctly. Below is an outline of some of the best practices for you to begin utilizing your LinkedIn profile to its fullest.

Finish your profile

  1. You want to make sure you have a picture (professional looking).
  2. Add the company URL to your profile (you get three web links).
  3. Fill out your summary, experience, skills, interests, and volunteer organizations you are a part of etc.

Connections

  1. Add co-workers, colleagues, people in your email contacts.
  2. Don’t make the mistake of connecting with everyone and everybody. You will be seen as a spammer and ultimately barred.
  3. Change the standard message for a LinkedIn request to “remind” the person you are requesting a connection how you know them.
    1. i.e., Great meeting you yesterday at the Breakfast Seminar, I’d love to have you in my professional network.
    2. Find “doorways” – people in a company that are well connected. You can see second level connections, find the person with the most connections, and ask to get introduced by your first level connection.

Groups

  1.  You can find connections within groups. Choose to join groups in your industry focus, and then connect to prospects through group connections. Remember: Remind them in your message how you know them.
  2. Start discussions in groups (but don’t self-promote). You can write about your expertise in these industry groups, or ask questions.

i.      i.e., What is your biggest concern this year? Security or Storage?

ii.      Engage responders, then maybe ask for a meeting. Don’t make the meeting request your first priority. Establish a conversation first.

Working It

  1. Before a sales or presentation call, research the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Chances are you can find a commonality – past company connection, schooling, volunteering, etc.
  2. If you upgrade to Premium (recommended for sales), you can send InMails to prospects. This is the ability to send messages to those you have no connection. Use these strategically and sparingly. You will want the message to request a meeting or phone call, but don’t just use a blanket message. Write this message with information about how your meeting will benefit the prospect (value proposition). You don’t get unlimited InMails, so make them count!
  3. Send invitations to company events, seminars, webinars, etc. through LinkedIn for better response rates. Studies are showing response rates through LinkedIn are 300% better than regular email. Be careful! You don’t want to spam your connections – they will disconnect fast! And personalize your note.
  4. Follow your customers! You should follow all of your prospects’ company pages to get the latest information. It may give you a reason to reach out to your connection, or gain a new one.
  5. Update your status, “like” the company news posted on your company’s LinkedIn Page (make sure you are following your company). If you are idle, your profile won’t show up on your connections’ news feeds. Activity keeps you “top of mind.”
  6. Look at who is looking at you. You can check on the right hand side of your news feed to see who is looking at your profile. Premium users can see all of the information and more “looks.” The list has the option to message these voyeurs. It also will give you insight if a prospect is showing interest by researching you or the company. Pick up the phone and call them with follow up questions, or set a meeting.

Organize Your Contacts

  1. Tag your customers. In your “Contacts” database of LinkedIn you can tag your contacts by how you know them, or products you are interested selling them.
  2. Add a new tag:
    1. Check the box on the first contact you want to tag in your list.
    2. A sub-menu shows in the right-hand section next to the contact.
    3. Select “Edit tags”
    4. Add a product name, a project name, etc.
    5. Click “Save”
    6. The contact is now assigned to the new tag
  3. Adding current tags:
    1. i.e. VMware is the tag, you can select the next prospect for VMware (or partner for VMware).
    2. Click on “Edit tags”
    3. Check the box in front of VMware
    4. Click Save

Tanya Babcock, Director of Marketing and Advertising, Brite Computers, Blogger at BrandGal.com

Previously published on www.brandgal.com and on Brand Gal’s facebook page: http://ow.ly/hcjFV