Leveraging Linkedin for Business Development and Marketing

I was at a networking event on social media strategy this week. One of the networking topics was how to leverage linkedin for networking. When I shared my approach to managing my linkedin profile with an account manager and a CEO, they were shocked to find out I was doing some things radically different and getting much better results.

We first compared numbers of contacts. Mine is close to 4000, theirs were approx. 100. I shared with them that I get unsolicited consulting requests because my profile is searchable by about 1/3 of the Linkedin network, approx 15,000,000 people.

Secondly, I solicited requests for recommendation from all of my contacts that I have worked with; colleagues, partners, employees, and customers. I had 25 or so recommendations, they had 1 or 2 each that they got for giving a recommendation. I give them appropriately and I request them appropriately. If you have a couple of people saying nice things about you, may or may not be true, but my feeling is that if you have sufficient volume, it speaks much more clearly about your abilities than you could ever tell. You don’t ask, you don’t get….

Next, I put up links to my blog and I put up powerpoint presentations. My goal is to credential myself so that when people find me they can evaluate my thought leadership. Obviously, I want them to think highly of me and want to reach out to engage me. Very similar to your marketing strategy; have an outbound marketing outreach program, but also make sure that when they are inbound that you provide them with a compelling interaction when they arrive. How would I know I want to do business with you if there is nothing on your profile to interest me. So, here are basic recommendations:

1. Fill out your profile completely, including jobs, roles, interests, contact information, etc.

2. Use key words liberally. We all do searches for key words to find people, make sure you are found by your key words.

2. Link to everyone you know & meet. Keeping a closed database works if you want to stay closed. If you want to be found, then make sure you connect and help others connect.

3. Join Linkedin LIONs – Linkedin Open Networkers – you have to accept requests with LION in the invitation, but if your goal is visability in Linked, this group of “connectors” is the very spirit of business development

4. Join Groups that are relavent to you – all about visability & making sure that you are accounted for in the markets where you play. Also, there are some groups that are great sources of information on markets, technologies, and connections.

5. Create content – Q&A, status updates, add powerpoints, add your blog, video, etc. for all of the reasons stated above.

6. Dont’ assume a linkedin contact is a “real” contact & don’t assume they got your message. I get SPAM messages all of the time from people who asked to connect and then assume I am fair game… you have to make sure that your messages to your contacts are respectful, reintroduce yourself even though you are a 1st level contact, and also assume that you will have to reach them another way. Almost a 1/3 of linkedin messages get lost in a SPAM filter so don’t just blast and assume they are interested or not.

7. Along those lines, I make it a point to also reach out to my contacts outside of linked if I really want a response. At the end of the day, people are open to connecting, but you have to still make it relevant, make it personal, and get there attention.

Linkedin does work… I know one of my contacts who makes 80% of her sales through her linkedin database. She built it up and then reduced it to just the “right” contacts, but if you are connected to her, you are a player. That is the exact perception she wants to create and does it extremely effectively. CMOs know that she has an exclusive database of other CMOs and they feel like they are a part of an exclusive club. When she calls or reaches out to them, they respond because they recognize the value she brings beyond just the immediate offering she sells.

At the end of the day, social media is about giving more value that you get…. but then again, that is the secret to networking in general…

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