Our Comprehensive Guide to LinkedIn for Sales and Marketing
There’s no denying that LinkedIn is a “special” social network. After all, unlike most networks the emphasis is firmly on your professional life. It’s also designed to limit spammy messages that annoy professional people. With that said, here’s how to use LinkedIn to achieve your sales and marketing goals.
An Introduction to LinkedIn
LinkedIn is often compared to an online resume. Your profile lists places you’ve worked and qualifications you have achieved. However, there are some other things to consider as well.
Basically, LinkedIn is a massive professional database. Unlike other networks, it’s also really easy to find people here. Briefly, I give three reasons to join the professional social network. First, go there to be found by others. This could mean old friends from high school, but it’s also a great place to be found by colleagues and corporate recruiters. Second, it’s a great place to learn new things, and teach them to others. Lastly, LinkedIn is most famous for its ability to help with career management. This could be in the form of finding a new job, locating excellent candidates, or just building relationships with new people.
For this post, I dive into what makes LinkedIn unique from a statistical standpoint. One of the points I explore is how the enhanced privacy features keep the number of members smaller. At the same time, I point out that the professional social network's members have a higher average income and are more likely to be corporate decision makers and management professionals. This makes the network a great for marketing. Lastly, if you want your content to be discovered easily, LinkedIn is a great place to post it. Because decision makers consume a lot of content before buying, this factor makes LinkedIn invaluable for B2B sales.
Craig Jamieson gives us some tips on leveraging new LinkedIn contacts for sales. First, be sure to thank them for connecting. Second, carefully look over their profile to gather important intelligence for sales. Then, keep in close enough contact with the other person that you’ll be first on their mind when a need arises. Lastly, have a contact management procedure to decide how often to contact someone, and when to delete them.
Your LinkedIn Profile
As most people know, your LinkedIn profile is partially an online resume and partially a place to showcase your skills or knowledge. However, building a profile isn’t as simple as some people think it might be. Just like a paper resume or cover letter, there are some strategic choices you can make.
Here, I talk about a fairly long list of things that your profile should have. In a nutshell, I champion the viewpoint that your LinkedIn profile should be highly professionally focused, because you’re building a personal brand. It’s also important to maximize your SEO overall, as well as make yourself easy to find on LinkedIn. One of the ways to do this is to ensure your profile is sensitive to whatever industry you’re in. You also should be sure and maximize the value of endorsements and make yourself easy to contact. This way, people who are interested in benefitting from your expertise can get ahold of you.
This post is all about maximizing your LinkedIn profile for the best professional results. As sales and marketing professionals, it’s critical that people be able to reach out to us when they need help. However, just putting yourself on LinkedIn isn’t really enough to get an edge. That’s why I give some tips on how to be noticed, most of which center around being active enough on the platform that people know you’re there.
Do you think that just having a plain profile on LinkedIn is good enough? Think again. Here, I give you several pitfalls of LinkedIn profiles, and talk about how to avoid them. As always, the trick is to be visible, but also build your personal brand. You never know what opportunities are just around the corner.
Always use your personal name on LinkedIn. Why? Like other social networks, it was built for people, not companies. Only, in the case of LinkedIn, people tend to be resistant to getting advertised to when browsing here. Of course, there are other issues to consider, as well. For instance, company pages tend to get a lot less attention than the pages of their leaders. LinkedIn is a place to meet people, not spray with copious advertising.
Unlike other social networks, LinkedIn has guidelines for appropriate profile photos. Unfortunately, not everyone knows this. In my post, I talk about the importance of having a picture. I’ll also give you tips on making it properly professional, which includes putting your best foot forward. Lastly, we talk about the LinkedIn photo policy and how to avoid running afoul of the rules.
Most college students on LinkedIn don’t have much of a resume. Maybe they’ve had a summer job or an internship, but generally nothing permanent and professional…yet. For students, one of the biggest purposes of LinkedIn is finding that first post-college job, and to that end I’ve put together my best tips for this specialized demographic. In short, college is a great time to build your professional “brand” and “market” it to companies. To get found by the right people, you’ll want to select the right industry. Then, showcase your achievements. With the right profile, you’ll have an easier time meeting post-college success.
Networking on LinkedIn
Building your network is an essential part of benefitting from LinkedIn. After all, the whole purpose of being there is to boost your personal brand and enhance your career. So, how should you build this network? I give several ways to do this, both using the people you already know in real life, through LinkedIn groups, and through search. There’s also a way to grow your network passively. This involves getting found by people who are interested in some aspect of your profile, rather than seeking them out.
If you’re trying to sell something, or maybe even find job quickly, there’s a chance you would want to contact as many 2nd and 3rd degree connections as possible. Unfortunately, LinkedIn severely limits your ability to message people outside your 1st degree contacts. They don’t want people sending spam, so you can only contact these people if their emails are posted. I finish off with some tips for contacting your network.
As everyone seems to know, LinkedIn makes it fairly difficult to contact people outside your network. However, it isn’t impossible to do so. For instance, if you are a member of the same LinkedIn group, you might be able to contact them that way. Some members post their emails, as well. InMail is expensive, but I do recommend it in some situations. Just don’t get yourself restricted by asking too many people you don’t know to connect.
On LinkedIn, there are specific rules that say you are supposed to only invite people you’ve met to your network. However, that made expanding networks much more difficult. In response, some people became a LION, better known as a “LinkedIn open networker.” These people will accept invitations from people they don’t know, and whom they haven’t met. LIONs are important, because they give you access to a wider network. Unfortunately, some marketers take advantage of this phenomenon as a way to collect leads and email addresses for SPAM. Not nice. My personal policy is to connect with people who will give me a personalized invite and tell me why you want to connect, I’ll usually accept.
Ready to take the plunge and add a LION to your network? Here, I’ve given a list of people to consider adding, and why they can be beneficial. Some are LIONs, while others are a bit more restricted but still easy to connect with. Most are in the US, but a few aren’t. Be sure to check it out.
Here’s an interesting opportunity: adding a former president to your LinkedIn network. However, like so many things in LinkedIn Land, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. My advice is simple: sign up for his newsletters. Once you get those emails, you’ll know which email address to use when inviting him to connect.
Made a networking “mistake” on LinkedIn? Fortunately, there’s a fix. In this post, I give you two ways to remove connections from your LinkedIn network. While you may not want to add and delete people lightly, being connected to someone on the site is not a marriage. After all, relationships do sour.
LinkedIn IDKs are alerts sent to LinkedIn when a user doesn’t know someone who asks to connect with them. While this may seem like an innocent way to reject an invite, it’s actually much worse. If someone gets too many, they have their ability to connect restricted. For that reason, I suggest that if you aren’t interested in connecting with people that you say so in your profile. My other recommendation is that you archive unwanted invites, because it’s always possible that you will want to connect with that person in the future.
Publishing Content on LinkedIn
One of the great things about LinkedIn is that it’s possible to publish different types of content through the platform. While you won’t want to put up cat videos, LinkedIn is a great destination for content that’s related to your industry. Or, you can always publish a whitepaper about the hottest new release. Here are the details.
This is a brief “how to” for using the LinkedIn publishing platform. With its high credibility rating, this is a great place to publish things. Just be careful what you choose to write about, because LinkedIn is a professional network. My suggestion is simple: write about what you know. It’s a good way to attract opportunities.
Anja Skrba gives us the facts about using LinkedIn as a blogging platform. She says that if you want to increase the visibility of your professional brand, this is a great option. LinkedIn can be used as a supplement to your company (or personal) blog, as well. Just be sure to promote engagement and ensure what you say is accurate. Lastly, don’t forget to project a professional image.
Like any content campaign, LinkedIn marketing requires a strategy if it is to be successful. Vinay Koshy gives us some tips. Make sure you know your audience and can advocate for your brand. Employees are excellent brand advocates, especially on LinkedIn. Put your best foot forward and know what types of content you want to post. These and other tips will help you gain success through publishing on the social network.
LinkedIn Lead Generation
Plenty of people are trying to use LinkedIn to generate sales leads. After all, this is the place where so many decisionmakers and management professionals hang out. On the other hand, LinkedIn has a lot of safeguards against spam and email harvesting. How can we make it work?
Just because you can generate leads on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that they’ll make it easy for you. Mike Gingerich gives us some tips on accomplishing this feat. First, use video-both the organic and advertisement types. Second, remember to share content and use hashtags. Third, take advantage of data, targeting, and employee advocacy. Fourth, try to remain at the front of people’s minds within your industry through effective marketing techniques. That includes crafting a great profile, buying LinkedIn ads, using SEO techniques, and making your content engaging. Finally, don’t forget to join groups and cross-promote material.
One of the best ways to use LinkedIn for lead generation is by using it to increase traffic on your blog or website. Mike Gingerich gives us some tips on how to do that. Primarily, the technique involves optimizing your profile and engaging in groups. Then, you share content with targeted people on LinkedIn. Finally, make sure to maintain relationships.
LinkedIn for Specific Industries
Some industries have special needs when it comes to networking and marketing. That’s why we have some industry-specific LinkedIn information.
Do you sell real estate for a living? If so, Rebekah Radice has some excellent advice on how to build the best LinkedIn profile. For one thing, have a professional headshot. Showcase your talents, certifications, and educational background. Include testimonials, if you can, and follow real estate-related groups on LinkedIn. And of course, don’t forget to include links to other sites, such as your realty company.
LinkedIn Account Issues
Like so many other things in life, LinkedIn doesn’t always work the way you want it to. Furthermore, your activity on the platform can sometimes have unintended consequences. We’ll talk about these, and more, here.
Common sense would normally dictate that there is no such thing as too much activity. Unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t always agree. That’s because it strives to be a “safe” place where people don’t have to worry about spam. In order to create this sense of safety, LinkedIn flags accounts that have a pattern of activity that might indicate prohibited uses. This has led to a lot of innocent people losing their accounts, at least temporarily. I give suggestions on how to avoid this problem altogether, and express my hope that a more fair approach to punishing people who abuse the system be found.
There’s hardly a company or product out there that doesn’t get or generate complaints. But how do you send one to LinkedIn, when their process is so murky? Although LinkedIn has a dedicated customer service number for paying customers, those with “free” accounts face barriers. In fact, at the time of writing it appeared that about the only way to contact their customer service was by paying money. However, there does seem to be a one-time loophole: a free trial of LinkedIn premium. With this, you could send an InMail to a member of upper management with your complaint. But be careful: there are a lot of complaints about the free trial not really being free, and credit cards getting charged when they shouldn’t be. In essence, about the only way to contact them for free is to have them contact you about something first…and that’s rarely a good thing.
In recent years, there’s been an increasing problem with employers demanding their employee’s LinkedIn accounts when they leave. This generally arises when employers pay for a premium account or InMail, and when employees use their accounts on behalf of the company. Here’s the problem: these demands are against the LinkedIn Terms of Service. Members are forbidden to transfer their accounts to anyone else, and they can get banned for violating this policy. Worse, by handing over their LinkedIn accounts they’re breaching the trust of their network. It’s one thing to give over a customer database, and another to hand over something that YOU have built. My feeling on the matter is this: we need to fight for control over our accounts. And I mean, through legal action if necessary.
James Wu talks about the missteps we can make on LinkedIn. While some might be simply embarrassing, others can get you fired. For instance, talking about confidential information is a firing offense no matter where it happens. Posting negativity can also get you fired, because there are anti-bullying and other workplace policies that can trip you up in this situation. Lastly, be sure to avoid showing disloyalty toward your employer. This can include endorsing former coworkers who were fired, or openly looking for a new job. Both of these are bad form, and the endorsements can also violate company policy. Best to avoid it.
Grab my Free LinkedIn Ebook!
If you need more help, make sure you grab a copy of my free ebook Maximizing LinkedIn for Business.