5 Tips for Generating Leads With LinkedIn
For many entrepreneurs and business owners, LinkedIn means nothing more than an obligatory profile that must be completed for the sake of maintaining a consistent internet reputation. This is unfortunate, though, as it's actually an incredibly sophisticated tool designed to help businesses enhance networking efforts and generate leads. Unless you're completely satisfied with your existing client base and don't feel the need to attract additional customers, you need to pay more attention to LinkedIn.
Arguably the most underrated social-networking platform on the internet, LinkedIn was designed for networking. Just take a quick look at the LinkedIn mission statement and you can clearly see the purpose behind the site. "Our mission is simple: connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful," the statement reads. "When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do."
Notice that the first thing LinkedIn mentions is "access to people." Are you utilizing LinkedIn to gain access to people, or are you merely throwing up a picture, pasting in your résumé, and connecting with friends and co-workers? If that hits close to home, you're not maximizing LinkedIn as a tool for generating leads.
5 Tips for Generating Leads With LinkedIn
Let's examine some of the best tips, tricks, and strategies for generating leads through LinkedIn. From giving your profile a little TLC to closing deals with new connections, here's what you need to know:
1. Prepare for Action
Prematurely attempting to find new leads can hurt you. It's important that you prepare by getting the basics figured out. You'll want to start with optimizing and branding your profile by answering these questions:
- What descriptors would existing customers use to describe you?
- What's the customer profile of an ideal lead look like?
- What's your strongest selling point?
Answers to these questions may look something like this:
- Customers would describe me as honest, knowledgeable, and creative.
- I'm looking for B2B customers that need marketing help.
- My strongest selling point is that I've been in business for 25 years.
Right from the start, you've painted a picture of who you are and how you want to appear on your LinkedIn profile. Using this information (and feel free to dig deeper and ask five or 10 additional questions), you should start tweaking your profile.
Your profile picture is one of the most important things to consider. It needs to be professional and inviting. Spend a few bucks and have a professional photographer snap some photos from the shoulders up. Have images taken in both professional and business casual dress. Select the one that you feel fits your image most accurately and proceed. Based on a heat map derived from the eye movements of 30 professional recruiters over a 10-week period, the profile image has been identified as the first thing people look at.
After getting your picture squared away, focus on clearly conveying career experiences with relevant résumé information. Leave out things like part-time college jobs and positions in other fields. Really home in on industry-specific experience.
Finally, make sure your contact information is accurate and complete. While many leads may choose to connect with you through LinkedIn's internal messaging system, most will go through your email, phone number, or website. Double check to make sure all of this information is correct.
2. Scour LinkedIn for Potential Leads
Now the search begins. Using LinkedIn's convenient search box at the top of the website, you can begin scouring the network for relevant connections and potential leads. After entering your initial search, you can filter your results with the advanced search features that pop up on the left-hand side of the browser window. Options include filtering based on relationship, location, company, industry, size, and a handful of other features.
Based on the results, you should be able to generate a list of prospects. If you're a super organized person, creating a spreadsheet with information like name, company, and LinkedIn URL is helpful. You can then add to this spreadsheet over a number of months and compile a sort of "prospect database."
3. Send Customized Invitations
After identifying the most promising leads on your list, it's time to send messages. However, you're not going to stick with the boring and generic invitations that LinkedIn provides you with. You want to create a customized invitation that's tailored to the individual or business on the other end.
While you can stress over what the message says, the most important thing is to honestly explain why you want to connect with the person. "Just say something," says Amanda Haddaway, an expert on the topic of networking. "There's nothing worse than receiving a LinkedIn request with the standard, generic format and not having any earthly idea who the person is or why he/she wants to connect with you."
Explain how you know the person, what you have in common, or what you find interesting about the individual. While you don't want to be overly salesy, it's OK to include an offhand comment about yourself and what value you bring to the table.
4. Establish Methods for Following Up
After the individual accepts your invitation, one of two things will happen: 1) They'll engage in conversation with you and express interest in learning more about you, or 2) most likely they'll wait for you to reach out.
Gauge the situation and figure out what the appropriate method of attack is. You may feel like it's appropriate to contact them immediately and discuss business. Or it's possible that you'll want to wait a few days or weeks before following up. However, whatever you do, don't let the lead grow cold.
It's important to consistently follow up with the connections you develop. Something as simple as sending a message or viewing their profile every couple of weeks may be enough to stay on their mind.
5. Take Advantage of Extra Tools and Features
Finally, if you have the budget for it, don't be afraid to take advantage of LinkedIn's extra tools and features. Sponsored Updates are a great way to put your profile in front of a lot of users. You can even target certain groups, to ensure your posts are relevant to your target audience.
Furthermore, paying for a premium account will allow you to better control your interactions on the site. In addition to giving you access to extra search features and filter options, you can also gain better insight into who's viewing your profile.
Add LinkedIn to Your Lead Generation Strategy
You can never have too many methods for generating leads. Over time, certain channels will run dry, while others will completely disappear. You can't indefinitely depend on the ones you currently have and will need to replenish clients at some point in the future. By including LinkedIn in your lead generating strategy, you can diversify your customer base and build healthy customer relationships for months and years to come. Utilize the tips, tricks, and strategies mentioned above to get started.http://www.inc.com/samuel-edwards/5-tips-for-generating-leads-with-linkedin.html