Facebook might be the biggest social media platform worldwide, LinkedIn is THE social hub in the B2B space. I’ve come across many SME’s who haven’t used the full potential of social selling on LinkedIn yet. Having a presence on LinkedIn with a personal profile or checking out your timeline now and then is not enough. What is needed is a strategic social selling approach. Once you take the right steps and consistently follow through, your efforts will pay off.
Let’s first highlight a few impressive figures related to social selling on LinkedIn and social media in general:
- Social networks, like LinkedIn, are the #1 influencer in the final stage of the purchase process. (IDC).
- 96% of sales professionals use LinkedIn at least once a week and spend an average of 6 hours per week on LinkedIn. (The Sales Management Association).
- Sales reps using social selling are 50% more likely to meet or exceed their sales quota. (Liz Gelb-O’Connor).
- B2B buyers find the greatest benefit of social media is gaining greater confidence in and comfort with their decision (IDC).
So how to start applying social selling on LinkedIn?
Below I have indicated 6 steps to succeed with social selling on LinkedIn.
1. Build your online reputation with a great profile
Your profile is more than just a copy of your resume. There are many details you should pay attention to. I have highlighted the 5 most important parts:
- Your professional headline. Your headline is key. I recommend to use all 120 characters to describe with key words what people can contact you for. Go beyond mentioning that you are the owner of your firm.
- Your profile picture: Use a clear, professional and up-to-date picture, preferably in color. Save your holiday pictures for other social media platforms.
- Your summary. Your summary needs to show what you have done and what you offer. Ideally it includes whom you would like to work with and what you value in your business. ‘Your vibe attracts your tribe’, therefore dare to share what you stand for.
- Recommendations: recommendations are social proof in action. People love to know how others have experienced your services. I really do believe that recommendations are very powerful. It is not only that people speak positively about you, it is the words they choose to describe your capabilities and personal characteristics.
P.S. Feel free to check out my Checklist for an Authentic LinkedIn profile.
2. Build your network
If you take social selling on LinkedIn seriously, you have to keep on expanding your network. First of all connect with all people you do business with (suppliers, clients, potential clients, partners, colleagues, journalists, etc.), and link with people who you did business with in the past. Check your drawer for business cards; for most people this is a good starting point.
If you invite people to connect with you, send them a personal message. There is nothing more frustrating than receiving the standard message ‘I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn’ from someone you only vaguely know or whom you have never met before.
P.S. Once you connect with people from a mobile device, you can’t personalize your message. Then follow up with a message once the connection has been established.
Growing your network also means getting in touch with people who you have never met before. Via the LinkedIn Advanced Search you can use key words and other criteria to find people that belong to your target group. Or you can join relevant groups on LinkedIn. Once you are a member of a group, you can invite relevant group members to link with you, even if they are 3rd degree connections. I always check out people’s profile before I send them an invite to connect. It enables me to find a common ground and shared interests.
3. Engage with your network
This might be the most important step in social selling. Social media is about interaction and two-way communication. Scroll through your timeline at least a few times a week. Like, share and comment when applicable. Once you ‘like’ a post, your connections will see the post too.
Ask yourself what areas you would like to be known for. If you share posts about a wide range of different topics, people might not know what your field of business is or why they should contact you. So therefore I always make sure that the things I ‘like’ are for approximately 75% related to my own field of business and interests.
Once you start sharing updates and publishing posts, you will see that the number of people viewing your profile will increase. Check out what kind of people like your updates and share your posts, and when relevant, invite them to connect.
Checking your timeline on a regular basis will help you to keep track of the activities of your connections. Commenting and sharing posts will enable you to put yourself out there and to really create visibility. Sometimes I write people a personal message based on what they share. Not with the purpose to sell them my services, but from a genuine interest in what they do and have shared.
4. Create expert status by publishing posts
Blogging is the best way to share your knowledge and expertise with your network and to establish yourself as an expert in your field. In addition, it allows others to get a feel of who you are, through your tone-of-voice and the content you discuss.
Since LinkedIn has given access to the publishing tool to all LinkedIn users, the number of posts that are published has increased tremendously. Therefore the quality of your posts is getting more important. If you have no idea what to write about in your blogs, feel free to check out this list with 17 blog post ideas to get you started.
5. Take conversations offline
Once you start using LinkedIn more consistently, you will get to know some of your contacts better, simply by reading what they share and talk about on LinkedIn. If you would like to know if there is an interest from both sides to take the relationship further, I suggest taking the conversation offline. A telephone or Skype call is easy to set up and enables both of you to get to know each other and to exchange ideas more freely.
Regardless what happens after this call (you might decide to meet up in person, or to contact each other again later in the year), it is important to realize that all your activities on LinkedIn after this ‘event’ will help you to create credibility and build trust. Each post you share will remind the other party that you are still there and your content can help them in the day-to-day decisions they have to make. Once the moment arises that they need someone like you, it is quite likely that you will be top op mind.
6. Monitor & evaluate
There are different metrics to measure your success on LinkedIn. The free version of LinkedIn enables you to check the most recent 5 viewers in the last 90 days, as well as a list of suggestions for increasing your profile views. Once you have 5 or more viewers in a 90-day period, you’ll see a graph of viewer trends above the list of viewers. The graph displays weekly trends for views of your profile over the past 90 days, as well as other viewer insights such as:
- Where your viewers work and live.
- Where they came from in finding you.
- Their industry and job titles.
A premium membership enables you to see the entire list of viewers from the past 90 days.
Recently LinkedIn added a new feature that enables you to get more details about the people who viewed or responded to your published posts. I really like this feature as you can see at a glance who liked your post, and again, the only thing you have to do is to decide whether you would like to link with that person or not. If so, you can start building your relationship from there.
So how are you using LinkedIn? Do you think that social selling on LinkedIn is something you could apply to get more business and build relationships?
About the author
My name is Anneke van der Voort-Kruk. I am a marketing communications consultant who helps small and medium sized companies to translate their passion and vision into an (online) communication strategy that results in visibility, impact and new business. My customers are often internationally focussed and operate mainly B2B. Most of them have a clear vision about their industry, but lack the time or capability to communicate their vision effectively. Please go to www.pr-minded.com for more information, connect with me on Twitter or Facebook, follow me on LinkedIn, or contact me directly via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).