This is the third part in a series on the 3 Basic Keys of LinkedIn. Part one covered “optimizing your profile” and part two looked at “building your networks”. If you followed the tips and strategies you should now have a pretty good profile and be on the way to expanding your reach on LinkedIn.
Leveraging LinkedIn simply means that you are making it work for you. You’re in control and taking the actions that support why you are on LinkedIn. I’m here to make money so everything that I do is geared to communicating a message to my networks.
Over the last two years I’ve learned how to use the various social media/networking sites to develop new business for my Individual Health and Employee Benefits companies. Last week alone I received 3 calls from prospects. What’s interesting about that is that I’ve updated my profile and activity to focus more on the social media consulting that I’m doing.
My prior and continued activity has allowed people to get to know, like and trust me. So, even though the focus isn’t 100% on health insurance it still drives results. And I’m starting to see results from the social media/networking side as well, having received a call from a technology company to discuss their social media/networking strategy. Four leads in a week with a potential of over $20,000 in revenue.
Social media/networking works if you leverage the tools available. With that in mind, here are 5 Top Ways to Leverage LinkedIn:
1. Communicate to Your Direct Network
On LinkedIn you can communicate directly or indirectly with you direct connections. Two ways to communicate directly is by sending a message to a connection or by using the status update function.
I typically will only send a message to my direct connections to notify them of local events that revolve around LinkedInor social media. I never send a sales message or mention how I can help them with their insurance or social media/networking. I don’t care to receive sales solicitations in my LinkedIn inbox so I don’t send them.
I use the status bar to share success stories, communicate about events, announce press releases, promote my groups, etc. I could announce that anyone needing help with their social media/networking strategy should contact me and it would be fine here.
The key is to share information that others will find interesting or that at a minimum communicates a message. You can include a web link just make sure to use the http:// format so people can directly click on it rather than having to copy and paste the URL.
Whenever you add a connection, update your profile, join a group, answer or ask a question, or give or receive a recommendation your direct network is notified on their home page. The more your name appears on your connections home page the more likely you are to receive profile visits. Through this indirect communication you can let your profile do the selling for you.
2. Interact with Your Groups
Discussion posts are a great way to engage your Group network. You can generate a discussion or simply take part in one that is already started. This can be a great way to share information and position yourself. Be careful of what you say and how you say it. Remember everything you say either adds to or subtracts from your brand.
If you’ve ever been on a sports message board most people are known by user names and there’s little to identify the person behind the posts. Here people tend to be quick to throw out a jab or be critical. You can’t do that on LinkedIn because everything you say is tied to directly to you.
Share good information, help others, and keep your posts on topic and you’ll begin to build your brand.
3. News Articles Allow You to Share Information
One of the ways I’ve built trust is by sharing information with others to help them more effectively utilize LinkedIn. I’ve been able to share this with the members if my Group network by posting the blog posts as news articles.
Groups represent collections of people based on usually a single factor…alumni, location, industry, etc. If you belong to the groups where your prospects hang out then you have an effective way to build up name recognition and trust.
You can share articles that you have written or simply ones that you think others in the groups would find value in. In discussions what you say builds your brand; in news articles the information you share does the same. I think you get more value from an article you write, but there is value in sharing the information others have put out there.
4. Demonstrate Expertise through Answers
Your Direct and Group networks are likely your most relevant networks, but it’s still effective to communicate with your third network…the entire LinkedIn membership. Answers allows you to do this at no cost and it’s a great way to build credibility.
You simply need to focus on answering questions where you can provide the most value and where you derive the most benefit. I tend to answer questions that are about LinkedIn or insurance. This allows me to share information or thoughts (provide value) and to demonstrate my expertise (build credibility).
In each category there is an RSS feed link. I have set up a RSS reader that allows me to monitor new questions in these two areas and to respond. Whenever I answer a question my direct network is notified, it’s attached to my profile, and its out there for the entire LinkedIn network to see.
I make sure that before posting an answer that I’ve taken the time to think about what I’m saying and how I’m saying it. I also will not answer a question if someone else has already done a good job in addressing the question. There’s no need to be redundant.
If you work in an industry that doesn’t have many questions asked you can take the initiative and ask questions. This can allow you to generate a discussion. Just be sure that your question doesn’t sound like an advertisement.
Finally, Answers can be a great place to tap into the knowledge of others or secure feedback on a topic. I’ve used it successfully to find other professionals to partner with or to find a resource for my clients.
Most people on LinkedIn think about using the site to network and its great for that. Its also a great place to prospect for new clients. The people search allows you to identify individuals based on a number of variables. Once you find them you can look to see how you are connected, see if you have any common groups, and determine the best way to be introduced.
You can also learn a lot by simply reading the person’s profile.
The second way to prospect on LinkedIn is by using the Companies search. Once again you have several variables to find your target prospects. In a recent search I was able to identify 150 prospects based on industry and company size. I was then able to see how I connected into each opportunity and to determine the best means of approaching the prospect.
If you use a prospecting source such as Sales Genie, Businesswise, Info USA, etc. you can generate a list of prospects then cross reference this with LinkedIn to build a better prospecting list. A list of 1,000 prospects it make take some time to cross reference but if you break it down to 20 or 30 per week it should be manageable.
There is a tremendous amount of opportunity to use LinkedIn to grow your business. You simply need to determine which tools will help you support your purpose of being on LinkedIn. Start by developing your goals and then creating a strategy that will allow you to achieve them.
Then it’s simply a matter of taking the time to optimize your profile, expand your reach by building your networks, and then taking the right actions. It will work if you make it happen.
What are some ways that you are leveraging LinkedIn?
If you would like to learn more about how to use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Business Blogs to grow you business, SONARconnects offers two options:
Social Media Training that teaches you how to optimize your accounts, build communities of friends, followers, and connections, and how to monetize social networking and social media.
Social Networking/Media Management: We take on the responsibility for managing your social media accounts including creating and writing your business blog.