Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter—it seems like the list of social media websites grows larger all the time. For the business owner who has decided to make digital and inbound marketing an essential part of the business plan, these social media websites are a crucial part stepping stone to success. However, it can become quite time consuming to hit every platform, every day. There may become a time where you have to pick and choose a couple of these social media websites to be your “go-to” source for social lead generation.
As a professional, and a business owner, there is no doubt that LinkedIn should be part of this list. Why? There are currently over 400,000,000 registered members of LinkedIn--many of which are interested in the same topics and strategies as you are. You can use LinkedIn as a virtual business card, a method of meeting industry professionals and a simple way to stay in touch with your current contacts. Plus, a basic membership is free, so it's certainly worth putting together a basic profile.
One of the best things about LinkedIn is that you can get an excellent value from the site just by using it a few minutes a day. Consider these seven ways that you can use LinkedIn for B2B lead generation, inbound marketing, and other valuable business-building tactics—and only spend about 25 minutes per day.
Here's how to get business from LinkedIn. Just choose 3-4 of these activities each time you log into LinkedIn:
Find Important Connections
If you want to connect with someone to talk business, LinkedIn is the way to do it. Not only is it easier to find people through LinkedIn than through the Internet at large, but it is also often less-obtrusive to send them a LinkedIn invite than an email.
First, make sure to search and connect with your colleagues and clients. Whenever you get new business cards, make sure to log in within a couple days after the event and connect with those you met. This will help keep you top of mind, and may remind them of your conversation.
You can also search for new connections on LinkedIn. Each time you login, consider searching for relevant people to connect with. To do that, click "advanced" next to the search button at the top of LinkedIn. The advanced search in LinkedIn has many options for you to input. For starters, though, try a couple keywords, such as the title or industry of your target client. Choose a location, perhaps local to start. You can get even more specific if you want, though. You can find people who are connected to others in your network (your 2nd connections) or you can even look for people who went to your alma mater.
Connecting is just step one to generating business through LinkedIn.
People are used to getting hit up with cold calls in LinkedIn. It's not really effective. Instead, send a friendly note about why you'd like to connect with that person and then follow up with a personable note. If you have a question about their business or share a connection, use that to break the ice. Think of the LinkedIn connect like a handshake. You are still both strangers. Take the time to get to know them, as you would anyone else. Like their status updates and congratulate them when they have a milestone or anniversary (see below). Whenever possible, take the handshake offline and meet up for a coffee to chat. Relationships lead to sales.
Publish Updates & Keep Your Profile Up to Date
First and foremost, if you set up your LinkedIn account years ago and have not looked at it since, go in right now and update it! Make sure your most updated information, including your company link and bio, is in your profile. Your LinkedIn profile is your online resume. Prospects are looking at it to understand what you do and what kind of experience you bring to the table to determine if they can trust you. Ask current clients and good friends to recommend your current position with your business, speaking to the services you provide. This is a great way to inspire trust.
Another part of keeping your name fresh in the minds of prospects is by regularly publishing "updates" in LinkedIn. Which leads us to the next point...
Use a Scheduler to Make it Easy
Don’t have time to write and post a brand new update every single day for LinkedIn? You don't have to physically log on to the site to update. There are many different tools available that will allow you to schedule updates ahead of time. Hootsuite, Buffer and other similar products all allow you to plug in your update ahead of time and launch it at the perfect moment. You could plan a weeks worth of updates all in one brief session.
Not sure what to share? Here's a list of ideas:
- Your company's newest blog articles
- Company announcements or news
- Interesting articles from industry publications
- Job listings or openings
The idea of sharing content is to keep your name and face (make sure you have a great profile picture!) top of mind with your contacts -- existing contacts and those you may have just met. Everyone on LinkedIn is there for professional purposes, so it's ripe with possibilities for your business.
Join (and Participate in) Targeted Groups
A targeted LinkedIn group is almost like a personal social network developed for your niche. The best thing about them is that it is super easy to get your message out to people who have the same interests as you do. These groups are a great place to share that new blog post, find others to join your mastermind group and just build your “base” on the platform.
To find a group, type in a topic in the top search bar and select "groups" from the dropdown. Look through the list and find a couple that look good to you. If you have mostly local clients, find a city-specific group. If you belong to any organizations, search for their LinkedIn group. Choose three to start, and once you get the hang of it. Check your groups a couple times a week to share content and comment on other's content. Try posting questions to get conversations started, too.
Catch Market Trends
The big trends in most industries will make their way to LinkedIn—often before they hit Facebook and the other social media platforms. Check out your updates (that feed when you log into LinkedIn) often to find out what’s trending in your industry. Checking your updates on LinkedIn only takes a few minutes, but can make a huge difference in how you face the days and weeks ahead. Plus, you may catch up on what your competitors are doing as well.
If you catch something important to your clients, share it! Keeping on top of the market trends will help position you as an expert and may prompt your contacts to reach out when they have a need in your area of expertise.
Give Some Love
LinkedIn users love giving and receiving endorsements, “thanks” and kudos. Endorse those you’ve worked with before for the skills they exhibit and don’t hesitate to send a comment wishing a connection good luck with a new job or congratulations on their work anniversary (LinkedIn will tell you about these events automatically). These tiny tokens of your time go a long way towards building authentic relationships through the platform. Liking someone's update is a great way to show you're still engaged, as well.
Respond to Messages and Comments
This goes without saying, but remember to check your messages. LinkedIn makes it easy for others to contact you, so do them a solid and respond. As a business owner, you can always use a new connection, whoever they may be. Be responsive and friendly to those who reach out. You will find that the LinkedIn platform makes it VERY easy to do this, and you won’t have to spend much time at all dealing with those messages -- but if you leave them unread, who knows what opportunities you could be leaving on the table.
While LinkedIn may seem a bit complicated and cumbersome at first, all of the many features that make it feel that way can reduce your workload and make LinkedIn a speedy little social media site for you to visit and utilize. Just remember, make every action count! Dedicate 25 minutes a day to LinkedIn, and you can be on your way to getting new business in a snap.
photo credit: Pranavian