LinkedIn nowadays is a crucial channel for business to business networking, selling and marketing. We’ve been helping clients use LinkedIn to grow their reputation for several years now and as LinkedIn has matured in adoption and usage, what you need to do to make it succeed has evolved too. If you’re not familiar with social selling we’re talking about using LinkedIn to generate leads; building up your network of connections on LinkedIn with people who could potentially become clients. Getting involved in conversations with people, tracking what people you’re connected with are doing (such as moving jobs) and posting your own content in order to be seen.
Because LinkedIn is maturing and evolving, what you do needs to evolve with it. We thought we’d share some of what works now for us and our clients:
1. Social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum
You can connect with people and post videos, blogs, news stories, and do nothing else. It will work to some extent – people will connect, and you might get some people interested in talking to you. But it will be limited. What really works is using LinkedIn to amplify what you’re doing in real life. Events, activities, stories and campaigns, awards, installations and so on. Getting a client to post the campaign you created and tagging you, allowing you to respond; connecting with people before you go to a conference and arranging to meet them there; sharing responses to articles you’ve read and tagging the author and others you think might be interested in it. You’ll generate far, far more engagement, more and better responses from people, and longevity from doing something that’s rooted in real life.
2. Be human!
The best content is your own content; it’s great to share others’ content and it’s great to share your blogs, news about your company, and all the professional stuff that people share on LinkedIn. But the best way to get yourself noticed and get people to talk to you is to let them get to know you as an individual. Post your own views, experiences and stories – in posts, pictures, videos. Content doesn’t have to be flashy or edited to broadcast standard. As long as your content is interesting and engaging, but most importantly they’re about your experiences, it’s much more likely people will read or watch and like it.
3. Spam doesn’t work.
OK, I cheated on that one – we always knew that. Ask the person next to you, they’re probably receiving more junky connection requests than ever before from people at companies that have no relevance to what they do. They might or might not accept. If you want to build up a network of potential clients, and raise your awareness amongst them, the makeup of your network matters. So, think about who would want to know about and hear from your company and use LinkedIn’s tool to search for them. Use industry, location, headcount, job title and other filters to find the right people and then check them so that you know you’ll be connected with the right people. DO NOT let some supplier send blanket automated connection requests to the world and its friend – all you’ll do is undermine your brand, and it takes a lot of work to undo the damage.
4. Stand out
It’s become much harder to get your content to stand out, but it can be done if you have a big enough network and if your content is good enough, but you need both. If your network doesn’t have the reach then you won’t get the engagement (i.e. views, likes etc.) that you’re aiming for without building that network first. And once you have the reach, there are so many infographics and videos and so many publications and blogs are sharing their content that to stand out it’s crucial that you strike a chord, so your content has to strike an emotional chord or educate or hit home in some other way.
5. Get the profile right
Your job title (and, your whole profile) matters. Sales, business development, recruitment, coach, events – these titles and roles have a bad name on LinkedIn. Much of the spam comes from people in these job roles, plus most people want to feel they’re talking to the organ grinder, so as a result, it’s much harder to get people to accept connections with people in those roles. It’s sort of unfair but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. So – if you possibly can, get yourself a senior job role or use a senior person’s profile to be the ‘face’ of the company on LinkedIn.