Using LinkedIn to create leads and sales is a must in today’s marketplace. There are no excuses for small businesses to not be on LinkedIn. It is the place where businesses get together to socialise, network and most importantly, to do business. In a recent survey over 20% of all levels of management using LinkedIn were using it for networking purposes. Where once it might have been seen as a time-suck, LinkedIn is now a bone fide platform to network and find new business in the Middle East and elsewhere.
So if you’ve not been on before, here are a few handy hints for using LinkedIn for your sales and marketing strategy this year.
Create a profile
Unbelievably many small businesses still don’t have a profile on LinkedIn. Some of their staff may have a profile of their own, but without all the company being linked together on the site, you are missing out. Not only can you look at other people’s profiles, they can look at yours. For a small company this means you have to have a company profile with your staff and with their profiles. Anyone who looks at this will see you are a transparent and a real company – i.e. someone they can do business with.
Make sure your company profile is complete and gives a call to action in it. This could simple be a ‘give us a call on…’ or ‘visit our website’.
Just as in life you have to get out and about and talk to people. Socialising on LinkedIn means finding groups where your prospects are hanging out. So, for example, if you are selling swimming pools you may want to find contacts in hotel chains. The best place to find those people is in hotel groups. Don’t forget to be visible within your own business niche as well.
There is a free version of LinkedIn, which for many people is the ideal starting point. But once you’ve got past the learning curve the only way to really understand how you can make good connections on LinkedIn is with paid membership. Paid membership for LinkedIn gives you more in-depth search capabilities and allows you directly mail someone.
This is the big tool for most sales people on LinkedIn. It can be difficult to get your prospect to take your call or read a standard email. But on LinkedIn an InMail is delivered straight to their mailbox in LinkedIn. They may still not read it, that is true, but it gives you an edge you’d otherwise not have.
Build your connections
Creating sales opportunities through LinkedIn means creating connections. You can start with family and friends to ease yourself in gently. Then get serious by looking at your prospective clients websites and seeing if they have a LinkedIn button on their site. If they do then use it!
But also think about your offline activities. When you meet someone at a business event it is usually acceptable to connect with them afterwards on LinkedIn.
The best way, and the most laborious way is to search for companies and people you want to make a connection with.
Target your searches
LinkedIn is a brilliant way to find exactly the person you need to talk to in a business. If you know the name of the company, a quick search in LinkedIn will most likely bring the company LinkedIn page up – with a list of who works for them. This means you can see instantly which person is most likely to be the one you need to talk to. As an advanced member you can also see the full profiles of people you don’t yet know.
Don’t be too pushy
Nobody likes a pushy sales person whether they are at a conference at Dubai’s World Trade Centre, or meeting with them in their office. So keep it personable and don’t do the hard sell. Use your common sense, or rather your sales sense here. Don’t do the hard sales push with a LinkedIn connection when you know more work needs to be done first.