WHEN USED RIGHT, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding, researching, and marketing––as well as exposing your brand to potential clients. But can the social network actually drive sales? It can, if you’re strategic about it.
Join Groups. The best way to find sales prospects on LinkedIn is to identify which groups focus on the vertical markets you serve. “Groups can have [thousands] of members,” says Dave Seibert, CIO at IT Innovators, an MSP based in Irvine, Calif. “That means that when you share a solution or help answer a question that will cause someone to look at [your profile] and learn [about] what you do, not only are the people you’re connected to seeing it, the whole group is going to see it.”
Don’t Waste a Post. The most effective posts are those that go viral, and to achieve this, Seibert urges channel pros to make good use of tags. If you’ve just returned from a networking event and you chatted with the organizer, write a quick post about it, and be sure to reference the fact that you met this person there. When you tag him or her, not only will your own connections see the post, but the event organizer’s network will see it too. If the networking organization has a group, be sure to join it as well for bonus exposure.
Consider Notifications. Many people see notifications as too much digital noise, but Seibert argues that they can rekindle old relationships. A notification about a connection being promoted, for example, gives you an opportunity to congratulate that person on his or her new position. This in turn gets that individual thinking about you––and, hopefully, the services you offer.
Don’t Bombard. Stuart Crawford, a website and SEO professional at Ulistic, an MSP marketing services firm based in Sebring, Fla., reminds channel pros that inundating connections with straight-out sales messaging is likely to turn them off. Instead, focus on building relationships, as that’s what ultimately leads to sales. “Look for what [people’s] interests are and build relationships that way,” he says. Because LinkedIn profiles include information about where people went to school and what organizations they belong to, this isn’t difficult information to obtain.
“Ultimately,” Crawford concludes, “you’re going to have a successful business if you focus on building solid relationships with people, and [LinkedIn] is just another tool—like the telephone, or email, or face-to-face meetings—to do that.”