LinkedIn Smart Networking

LinkedIn for Lead Generation and Relationship Building

LinkedIn can be a tremendous driver of website traffic and leads, especially for companies who sell products and services to other businesses. In fact, a 2012 study by HubSpot showed that LinkedIn generates 277% more leads than Twitter or Facebook!
As with all social networking for business, the key is to subtly promote your business without using LinkedIn as an advertising platform. This post focuses on using your personal profile to build connections. Your business LinkedIn page is limited to posting updates and products.LinkedIn Smart Networking

Complete and Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

This could be an entire post of its own, but we’ll cover the basics here. Try not to leave any section, or any field in a section blank. Make sure your profile image is uploaded (no one wants to do business with a faceless avatar) and professional. Though that photo of you on the boat with your son is fine for your Facebook profile, it doesn’t belong here. This is a place for your professional head shot – close up, clear and easy to make out even when displayed in small dimensions.

Your headline (appears right under your name) and summary are the sections people tend to look at first. Your headline is limited to 120 characters, so choose your words well to describe your talents and abilities, or focus on what you do for your clients.

Using Keywords in Your LinkedIn Profile

Keywords in your name, headline, company name, job title and skills have the most impact on search results.  The contact section is not included in LinkedIn search. Make sure to use common keyword variations. For example, if one of your skills is “online marketing”, you should also include “inbound marketing,” and anything else that is similar.  According to the LinkedIn blog, good places to use keywords are your “profile title, the Summary section, the Specialties area and throughout the descriptions beneath each position you list in your Experience section.” Google does return LinkedIn profiles in search results, so put those keywords to work!

Update Your Status

Try to update at least daily (we like HootSuite and Buffer for scheduling). Not sure what to share? Think “business meeting” rather than “Facebook status” and you’re on the right track. Use this as a place to discuss professional triumphs and questions – not as a way to sell your product or services. Some ideas of what to post:

  • Client triumphs (“Just surpassed our client’s 12 month goals in 9!”). Use sparingly.
  • Classes and seminars you attended (“Got back from the ABC conference on XYZ. Great speakers! Especially enjoyed the segment on 123.”
  • Company meetings (“Excited to see how our clients like our new ABC product.”). Use sparingly.
  • Asking questions (“Looking for a new, inexpensive webinar platform. Anyone have one they like?”)
  • Industry news.
  • Current events that relate to your business or interests.
  • Helpful articles related to your business.
  • Information for job seekers.
  • Information on work/life balance.
  • Company blog posts, especially if you wrote them.
  • Ebook download links.

What Not to Share on LinkedIn:

  • Confidential company or client information.
  • Purely promotional information.
  • Rants about customers, co-workers or employers.
  • Anything you wouldn’t want your boss or clients to see.

Start Connecting

People on LinkedIn Who Are Similar to Your ConnectionsFollow your customers (including their business pages, where applicable), business partners, and potential customers and like and comment on their updates.  You can follow a few select “Influencers” on LinkedIn, or follow people in your Groups (see below for how to find out which groups your targets use). Next to their comments on group discussions, you will see a “follow” link. Just click it and their public updates will appear in your stream.
If you have a personal relationship with a client, partner or potential customer, go ahead and request a connection. You can request to connect with people you don’t know personally (such as fellow group members), but when you do, add a personal message to the connection request to briefly explain why you want to connect.  For example, “We both belong to the Group ________ and I’d like to add you to my network. I’m always looking to connect with fellow business owners.”
Find new people similar to your existing clients by looking at their profiles for the “People Similar to” section in the sidebar.
Think about what you know that you can share with your potential customers. For example, you are clearly a savvy business-person. Some of your customers, despite being in ownership or management roles, could probably use advice on hiring, management, marketing, finance, insurance, production, efficiency. Share what you know. When you like something they shared, be sure to let them know with a like, a comment, or a share.

Use LinkedIn GroupsLinkedIn Public Profile - Groups

Connect with some current and potential customers, former co-workers, vendors, and business partners. The best way to do this is to look at the groups they participate in, and comment on discussions you see there. This is not the place to promote your business (and doing so will often get you kicked out), but instead to answer questions and provide advice, your opinion – anything that might be of value. Even if you are not connected to a person directly, if you are a 2nd degree connection (that is, you share one or more connections), you can view the groups that user belongs to, and see if you might have something to add to the discussion. As with all things social, the goal is to connect by providing information that is truly useful, not promotional.

Don’t forget Existing Connections

You know that lead you’ve been working on for two months? Use LinkedIn to gently remind them of your presence by commenting on their updates and joining in discussions where they have commented. Sharing their company updates is another way to say, “Look!  I care about your business success.” in a way that may just get their attention at just the right time. Have you gotten business leads from your LinkedIn activities?  Please tell us about it below!

About the Author Alisa Meredith (311 Posts)

As co-owner and chief inbound marketing consultant at Scalable Social Media, Alisa Meredith spends a lot of time keeping up with online marketing trends for the benefit of our customers. Computers have been a passion of hers since her first T1-99, so inbound and social media marketing is a natural fit.

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