LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with more than 500 million members. Let me say that again. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Why not leverage that to your advantage in finding new business opportunities in your territory, nurturing your customer base and building your brand as a subject matter expert to draw potential customers your way?
The focus here is on the free version only. LinkedIn also offers paid business and premium versions with more robust search and communication features. I don’t intend to turn you into a social media expert. The sheer enormity of LinkedIn can be overwhelming. My aim is to guide you through small, simple steps for beginners and light users of LinkedIn to enable more success and awareness in their sales territories. Bottomline, LinkedIn offers you the means to augment traditional prospecting with new age social selling tactics.
First things first, optimize your profile with a sales focus. Use your tagline as a value proposition. For instance, “High-value gas solutions for critical production processes.” Include a professional image of yourself. Nothing too elaborate, just a nice headshot from your iPhone will suffice. People like to humanize who they buy from and seeing an image vs. a blank is a bonus. Include something brief, but meaningful, in the “about” section. Here’s your chance to use a few keywords if you have a focus like medical, specialty gas, welding, life science, etc. Include any certifications or industry specific achievements but stay brief and high level.
Build Your Network
Connect, connect and connect. But make meaningful connections. Stay close to your industry and relevant contacts vs. building just for the volume. First, add every new customer that you close as a connection and all those you’ve been doing business within your account portfolio. Then, you can branch out by viewing connections of your current customers for any potential referral business. And, as a real bonus, now that you are connected, stay tuned for any notifications by your contacts on their new positions and/or change in company so that you may be able to pursue additional business opportunities as a result of their new role.
Bypassing the Gatekeeper
There’s an age-old problem of finding and connecting with the right contact behind the walls of that business. You know they need you and if they could just meet you, it would be a done deal, new business on the books. Well, since LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional organization, odds are that the person you’re searching for has a LinkedIn account. Or if they don’t, it’s likely someone close to them will. Search the company and then on the heading, you’ll see any connections you have now that work there and just below that, a link “See all XX employees on LinkedIn.” Something like this:
Then, start digging. If you can’t find the person you’re looking for, start searching by position. Find people that may have an influencer role, such as quality manager, welding supervisor, lab manager, etc. Reach out and connect. Start building relationships with the ultimate objective in mind: taking the online conversation offline and meeting face-to-face.
Industry and Application Focus Groups
Join and follow groups that your prospects and customers are involved with. This is where they listen for content they care about. Be there with them. You can find your way there by viewing the profile of someone you’re pursuing and go to their “interest” section and view “groups” they follow. The image above is an example from mine.
Once you’re there with them, consider sharing content that could benefit them and other members of the group. I’m not suggesting daily immersion in publishing content, but when you find something relevant to improving their business and helpful for their success, post it. Chime in on the comments and likes when you see something you can contribute. However, don’t get in the habit of “liking” everything that’s posted. Members will see through that as superficial.
In addition to joining industry groups, also consider “following” companies you’re interested in, where business opportunities may exist. These can be for the purpose of tracking industry trends or, better yet, monitoring activities where new business opportunities arise such as expansion announcements, new equipment installation, new processes, etc. Active listening can lead to first in positions on new business opportunities.
Viewing Targeted Profiles in Your Industry
Odds are, you will begin to see more views of your profile when you start getting more active viewing other profiles. Make sure your privacy settings are not set to view other profiles anonymously. The point is, when you are viewing another profile because you’re interested in a potential business opportunity, you want your info to be viewable if that person decides to take a peek back. Don’t be shy about looking, it generates activity and potential to expand awareness of your profile and expertise.
LinkedIn is Always Working for You
I recommend you participate and stay active, but not get immersed in this to the point of using all your time here. One of the beauties of LinkedIn, once your profile is set up and you’ve begun to contribute, your presence is always there, and the opportunities always exists for interested buyers to find you.