Prospecting with LinkedIn
Owning a business means wearing different hats. Perfecting the crafts of marketing, promotion, cold-calling, negotiation, public-speaking -- it's a lot. Sometimes, you just want a platform that can streamline some of this.
Well, thankfully, enter the prospecting juggernaut that is LinkedIn.
The Lead Power of LinkedIn
Many of these hats can be collected in one pile if you know how to properly use the LinkedIn platform. So with that being said, how can you prospect other businesses and grow yours through these means? Here are a few tips for your consideration:
1. Keep a professional and Up-to-date profile
I know this seems to be a basic common sense item, but you’d be amazed at how many incomplete profiles I see every day! So please make sure your profile is complete; do not ignore any of the elements in profile.
If you aren’t sure, these are the items to review:
Your Personal Information
This is the first section anyone sees so you want to make sure it makes sense and looks appealing. First impressions count online and off and this could be the first impression to a potential client, customer or business partner.
- Your profile photo: use a good quality image that clearly shows your face. The idea is to make you recognizable to people. Especially if you network locally. Do not use an older photo, keep it updated.
- Your Headline - make it relevant to your ideal client.
- Current Position - this should be a factual title as it is searchable.
- Your Education - include everything, as education helps build your authority.
- Your Industry - be specific as this is also searchable.
- Contact Information - think about where you want people to find you and contact you. I keep this entirely within the business scope so I can keep a separation for the sanity of my family, but the choice is yours. At the very least include your website to send potential visitors to check it out.
This use to be called the summary and was changed to the about section. I see many people using this to talk about who they are, where they came from, and what they enjoy as a person.
Talking about yourself is a lost opportunity if you are using LinkedIn for prospecting.
You need to talk to your potential prospect here. What matters to them? This LinkedIn section can be a strong marketing/sales asset working for you 24/7.
You have 2000 characters and spaces count. You need to craft this carefully. When we do it for our clients, we follow this process:
Write out everything we want the section to say based on a questionnaire. This is often two or three times longer than the section allows, so at this point you start to remove anything that repeats itself. Also really look at what is needed and what you want to say.
We usually take 2 or 3 editing rounds to get it close to the 2000 character number. Then we look at what is left and make sure the most compelling statement or question is in the first two sentences. That is all that will show without them clicking 'see more' and that is easily overlooked.
You need to catch their attention to move them to action.
If those two sentences are all about you instead of all about them, they are very likely going to skim past or simply look elsewhere. Give yourself a few hours to write, edit, take a break, and then edit again with fresh eyes.
It is worth the time to make prospecting work for you.
As well, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to upload or link to documents, presentations, videos, websites. Put this to work for you. What assets do you have that answer a question or matter to your prospect. Make sure they can get to them here. Don't make them search for it (they won't), make it easy.
This is the part that leads people to believe that LinkedIn is an online resume. It isn't - especially not if you are using LinkedIn for prospecting and lead generation.
Yes, this part should be completely and accurate, but if you are using LinkedIn to reach your potential customer, your readers are much more interested in questions and solutions that affect them than in something you did 10 years ago.
So complete and move on.
This part is often neglected, but can also affect how or when you turn up in a search.
Spend some time here doing research on how your competitors, your customers, and your prospects are presenting themselves. Think about questions you get asked. Are these applicable to skills? There are 50, so fill them all out. Then slowly work on getting your recommendations for those skills.
All those skill recommendations are small building blocks to your authority and credibility.
Okay, if you aren't asking or giving recommendations, you are definitely missing a big chuck of your silent sales team on LinkedIn. You've heard the term social proof? This is a great example of it. Here are people that are linked directly to your profile from yours and are going on the record so to speak to say what a great person you are or great job you did.
There are no downsides to you putting this to work for you.
Before a recommendation shows up on your profile, you have to approve it. No surprise bad reviews, only strong reports.
And in the spirit of giving to gain, go out and give some recommendation to people you have worked or volunteered with or a partner who does great work. Not only is it a great way to support your network, but it can lead new people back to your profile from your recommendation.
Take a look at your network today and send out a request for a recommendation. Give them some specifics so they aren't guessing what you are looking for. People are often willing to help, but leave it if they aren't sure how to help.
Send a message that talks about some exact project you worked together on.
I hope all is well with you. I really enjoyed working on the xxxx project with you and would really appreciate it if you would give me a recommendation on my *web design - project management - business analysis - insert the project that works for you* work.
I appreciated the kudos you gave me in the wrap up meeting and would love to include it here as well.
Thank you for the consideration.
Jane, let Joan know the exact work she was thinking of and reminded her of kind words she already shared. This takes the guess work out of it for Joan.
Make it easy for people to help you.
Here is the spot to shine the light on your accomplishments and it is often empty or close to it (I'm guilty here too). No awards? That's okay - highlight a project you are proud of. LinkedIn gives a number of items you can emphasize:
- Publications - do you have articles or books publish?
- Patents - are you a creator or innovator? Tell the world.
- Courses - We all keep learning in our modern world to keep our skills up.
- Project - one of my favorite and one I need to revisit.
- Honor & Awards - Not everyone has these, if you do, show them off.
- Test Scores - okay, so I'm not a fan of this one. I feel test scores just show if you are good a taking tests, but if it is applicable to your industry this is the place to highlight them.
- Language - Sadly despite ongoing French classes, I am basically uni-lingual. If you have more, it is an advantage, so make sure it is noted.
- Organization - This is a good place to put associations that you have that you feel are pertinent but don't fit anywhere else.
This is the spot that highlights all of the people, groups, company, and schools you follow. This can tell people about you and give more possible gateways of introductions for people and prospects with the same interests.
You can see that a well rounded and optimized profile is not a simple online resume, but a great sales tool to work hard for you.
2. Join Groups your Prospects are in
Groups can be a great place to build a relationship and reputation and avoid the hassle of cold-calling. Once you start a conversation though, you still want to move the conversation offline in person or on the phone as quickly as possible.
Now back to LinkedIn.
It allows you to join various groups. And a little research can reveal the groups your potential customers belong to.
Join the ones that are appropriate for you and that your prospects belong to. Take part in the group ~ do not spam your service ~ but actually engage with the group and their members.
Don't collect connections for the sake of connections .
If you show yourself to be sincerely interested and give valuable insight. Belonging to the group gives you a common point with your prospect to start a conversation.
And the conversation is the goal to keep in mind when building connections with LinkedIn. You want to start a conversation and move it offline as quickly as possible.
Don't collect connections for the sake of connections - put those to work.
3. LinkedIn Posts, Shares, and Engagement
Like all social media, the heart of LinkedIn is sharing & engaging with those posts.
But don't just post to put something up: post with purpose!
Look at who you are trying to engage with and share posts with comments that will answer a question or apply to something going on in their company, also called a trigger. If you want people to pay attention to the posts you share, then you need to give them a reason.
Post With Purpose!
With so much information, just sharing doesn't have much impact. Make a comment on why you shared it. State an opinion either you like something you read or didn't and tell your readers why. Then you've done them a favor by directing them to real information they can use, helping them cut through all the noise.
If they are sharing either on their personal feed or in a group, engage with it. Engagement can be hard to come by on any social media and definitely on LinkedIn. By making a meaningful comment, you will stand out from the crowd.
4. Using Trigger Events
One of the powerful elements for sales in LinkedIn is the ability to track trigger events that can indicate an opportunity for you to make contact and start an conversation. Here are a few different types that can help you reach out in a natural way:
- Changes in leadership positions
- Reports of great or bad sales in a quarter
- New hires
- New partnerships
- Company events
- New product or service announcements.
There are many others and Hubspot has a great article on 30 Types of Sale Trigger Events that can help you decide what kind of triggers you should be looking for.
Those conversations that stem from those triggers can either reveal that the prospect is in fact not a good fit for you or start the process of value and need between you, your services, and the prospect.
5. Sales Process Means More than One Contact
Anyone in sales has heard that most sales come after 5 to 7 touches, sometimes more. If you stop at one, you are leaving the majority of sales on the table for your competitor.
LinkedIn allows you to move a cold unaware prospect to a warm lead by utilizing it's search, follow, and comment capabilities. As it is focused on business, most people are open to real conversations if approached in a genuine manner.
No one wants to be hit with a sales pitch before they've finished reading 'hello X'. You don't like that approach, so don't use it on your prospects or you will lose the change to move them to warm lead and real opportunity.
Think of your connection request as your first contact or 'touch' with your prospect and then move it forward over the following weeks. You can use a schedule like this example:
- Connection request.
- Right away - thank you for connecting
- 1 or 2 weeks later share interesting article or comment on theirs.
- 1 or 2 weeks later watch for triggers or use another TOFU share
- Request a phone call or coffee to get to know their business and see how you can help each other.
- If you don't get the call - 1 or 2 weeks later watch for triggers
- Follow up with a phone call
- If you are still not making progress, go back an offer a new and insight to test if the approach.
Keep your initial message short, letting them know what common ground you have. This gives them a comfortable reason to accept the connection request and gives you the opportunity to build a relationship that can lead to a meaningful sales conversation.
I keep these approaches between 8 and 12 and then put them in the contact in 3 to 6 month bucket. It could very well just not be the right time for them or that they are simply not interested at this time.
LinkedIn gives you a great platform to make these approaches without being overtly salesy. With some consistent time and effort, you can make into a power team for you and your business.
Have any questions, share below or connect with me on LinkedIn. I'll be happy to start a conversation.