What would be your answer if you were asked to name the five most important business development factors for your business? Would it be the most creative marketing, the best knowledge of your market, or your LinkedIn marketing action tips?
Yes. Of course, those answers are important. But are you wondering how LinkedIn can help you generate and connect with leads?
LinkedIn is a top go-to social platform for generating leads and building trust with your ideal prospects. So you should want to manage your LinkedIn prospects more effectively.
Let us show you some LinkedIn business development action tips that will help:
LinkedIn marketing … join LinkedIn ProFinder
If you’re a freelancer or independent professional, consider becoming part of LinkedIn’s ProFinder network. This is a place where LinkedIn members can seek out experts for a service, such as designers, writers, editors, accountants, marketing consultants, web developers, and more.
To access ProFinder, click the Interests tab on the LinkedIn navigation bar and select ProFinder.
Here’s how ProFinder works. If businesses are looking for a provider, they answer a few questions about the services they’re seeking and specify a time frame and budget.
LinkedIn then connects them to the best local professionals from their vetted list. Businesses receive bids for their work delivered directly to their inbox.
If you want to apply to be a ProFinder provider, go to the ProFinder signup page. Answer the questions as prompted to clarify your areas of expertise and complete the signup process.
It’s important that you have current recommendations on your LinkedIn profile because potential leads will see them in your ProFinder profile.
Your Summary section could also be key to getting hired, so make sure your summary details are complete. It’s where you explain why you’re the best choice and what makes you credible, and describe the results you’ve achieved for others.
Note: After submitting ten proposals, LinkedIn may ask you to upgrade your subscription before they share more leads. Also, if you’re in the financial services industry, this probably won’t work for you because of compliance and price quote, which is mandatory when bidding on work.
Search people and get introductions
This method is slightly the other way round: Search for people you want to be introduced to and then figure out who in your network can make the introduction.
Here is how to do it: Conduct a search on Google for people you would like to be introduced to and then see who from your network could introduce you.
For example, conduct a Google search like:
site: www.linkedin.com AND (“keyword 1” OR “keyword 2″) AND (Berlin)
This will only work well if you have a clear notion of your target group and know exactly the right keywords to search for the right people. So pay attention.
LinkedIn allows you to publish content in so-called “Long-Form-Posts”. It also allows you to republish content, which has already been published somewhere else (as long as it is your original content – no need to say that using other peoples’ content is never ok).
Publishing on LinkedIn may not give you the biggest audience, but it has the power to give you a very targeted audience of potential customers and influencers from your niche.
Your post will not only be shared with your contacts and followers. Interested people can also find it via search either on LinkedIn or Search engines.
Optimizing your content for LinkedIn
When you guest post or publish content in a magazine, you are limited by the regulations of the blog or magazine concerning links or call to actions within the actual post. Not so on LinkedIn. You can freely link back to your site or landing pages. It is ezee-peezy.
And you should do it: Add a call to action, link to your site or a whitepaper. Whatever you want to achieve with your publishing efforts, make sure, you optimize your content for it.
Also, since you want your content to be found by your target group, make sure you use the right tags.
When you publish on LinkedIn: Do not miss the chance to connect with the readers of your posts in the comment section. If you get comments: Answer them! And if you manage to get into a conversation with some of your readers, consider to send them a contact request and take the conversation to the next level.
Be engaging in groups
The idea is straightforward: Search for and join some groups where your target audience is present and active. The best groups for your purpose are most likely not groups from your interest area – often in these groups, you will find more of your competitors than your potential customers.
Rather go for groups where your target group is present – and start the conversation about the relevant topics in the groups yourself. Be as engaging as you can.
Do not promote or only share your articles. In most groups sharing articles is either not welcome or it is not worth the effort because all everybody is doing is sharing content.
Be good at reading and commenting. That is the key.
What you are looking for is Conversations: Talk to people and ask questions, start a discussion – and connect to people.
Engage visitors to your profile
When you get a little more active on LinkedIn for instance with publishing and conversations in groups, most likely some more people will visit your profile on LinkedIn. You should regularly check who visited your profile and tried to connect or at least communicate with the people, you think may be relevant to you and your business.
Announce events or specials on your profile page
Now, this article is about generating leads. A common way to do so is to use a webinar or other special content. You build a landing page where people can download or register and where you collect email addresses in return.
When you have a landing page or are going to use a webinar, you can use the profiles section of your LinkedIn profile to make more people aware of your offer.
Simply announce it directly on your profile in the projects section. This makes especially sense when you are getting overall more active on LinkedIn, and more people visit your profile.
Employ third-party tools
If you want to manage your contacts, there are two third-party apps that can help in CRM and follow-up. These tools are sales aids that can save you time and keep your leads organized.
However, remember that nothing replaces building real, long-term relationships with your prospects. Test these tools for your individual sales strategies.
Dux-Soup offers both free and paid versions. The app is ideal for taking notes on your contacts. The Dux-Soup for LinkedInChrome extension will keep track of every LinkedIn profile you visit and let you make notes directly on the profile page.
Nimble is a great social selling tool that integrates easily with LinkedIn. It’s designed for social listening and engagement. The browser extension is available for Chrome and Firefox. You can try it for free with a 14-day trial; the cost after that is $25 per month.
With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of LinkedIn, it’s worth paying attention to what happens with Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 CRM. Who knows? Maybe there will be integration with LinkedIn in the future.
You may want to check out LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator product (which is available as a 30-day free trial) or a CRM such as Salesforce. Typically larger businesses will have the budgets and sales teams to support these products.
Download your LinkedIn connection data
You’ve spent years developing your LinkedIn profile, connections, posts, messages, and recommendations, and those details belong to you. Fortunately, LinkedIn lets you download that information as an archive.
While you can use the Export LinkedIn Connections feature, you can also do a full download of your data to get more detailed information about the people in your network.
To download your data, first, click your photo in the upper-right corner and then click Privacy & Settings in the drop-down menu.
Find the Getting an Archive of Your Data option and click on Change. On the next page, click Request Archive.
In a few minutes, you’ll receive an email message from LinkedIn that they’ve compiled the first installment of your archive. Click on Download It With This Link in the email.
Finally, click the Download button and save the archive to your computer.
Once you’ve downloaded your archive, you’ll have a series of CSV files.
In your Connections file, your contacts are listed by first name, last name, email address, company, and current position. You’ll also find any notes you’ve added to their profiles and the folders you may have tagged them in.
With this data, you can now leverage your connections for prospecting. One way to do this is to upload your ideal prospects to your CRM system.
Follow, track, and connect with your prospects on a strategic level. Your goal is to stay top of mind, and one way to do that is to comment on their status updates.
Also, consider uploading your contact list to a Facebook custom audience and creating an advertising campaign. Targeting your connections with Facebook ads is more likely to deliver results because you already have a relationship.
You can use this tactic to promote webinars, workshops, and more.
Don’t upload your LinkedIn contacts to your email list though. Remember, an email list is permission-based marketing. Adding people to your list who haven’t opted in is an easy way to lose trust with people you’ve worked hard to connect with.
Note: Your LinkedIn archive also includes all of the information in your LinkedIn profile, so you’ll have a record of key data such as your recommendations and endorsements.
LinkedIn marketing … nurture all relationships
Staying connected and top of mind with your audience is paramount to building awareness and developing trust. LinkedIn makes it easy to tap into what’s happening in your network.
Use native prompts to start a conversation
Take a look at the Ways to Keep in Touch box on LinkedIn’s homepage. These prompts are meant to encourage you to engage consistently with the people in your network, so take a few minutes a day to reach out to connections with a personal message.
If you do congratulate someone on an anniversary, new job, or promotion, go beyond simply saying “congrats.” Be specific and mention what you’re congratulating the person for.
Build a reputation as a trusted resource
It’s important to recognize that how we do business has changed. Today’s buyers have access to more information online. They’ve already made a decision on what to buy; the question is who they will buy from? People do business with and refer business to those they know, like, and trust. In other words, they buy from people who have taken the time to build a relationship with them.
How do you add value? By solving the problems of your prospects. Take the time to pay attention to what your prospects’ needs are. You have to be a problem-finder before you can be a problem-solver.
You want to become a valued resource.
To do that, share relevant articles as LinkedIn status updates or as direct messages to prospects, letting them know you want to help. Focus on giving, not selling, as you build your relationships.
Focus on giving to develop meaningful relationships with prospects
Remember, building relationships with your ideal prospects requires consistency. You need to deliver valuable content and meaningful conversation. Keeping these points in mind will help you win trust and get the opportunity to ask for a meeting or phone call.
The bottom line
These tips will help you organize and focus on your ideal prospects on LinkedIn, but you’ll have to do the work of building relationships. Show up consistently and offer value to those you serve, because ultimately that will be your competitive advantage.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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LinkedIn Marketing … 9 Awesome Business Development Action Tips