Are you making LinkedIn work for you?
The social media choice for businesses and professionals with over 180m worldwide users LinkedIn can, and in most cases should, be an integral part of your working day.
But are you making the most of your LinkedIn account?
You’ve written your headline, carefully selected your areas of skills and expertise, filled in your career experience to date and chosen a suitable profile photo – probably a black and white image of you stood at a slight angle in your best professional get-up – so you’re ready to start networking or reaping in those leads, right?
Wrong, according to Mark Williams, better known as ‘Mr LinkedIn’.
Search Laboratory in association with Finn PR and Adam Recruitment hosted a joint event where Mark gave a presentation on how to monetise LinkedIn for businesses.
While working in recruitment, where he headed up a 30-strong team, Mark noticed the business potential of using LinkedIn and has since become one of the world’s leading authorities on the social media network. In 2010 he became the first ever UK certified LinkedIn trainer, one of just three worldwide.
From real-life success stories to seven-point plans Mark detailed how LinkedIn is both an invaluable research tool and a fantastic way to generate business leads – but only if used correctly.
Here is what he had to say…
Mark’s seven-point social selling plan
1. Stop selling!
“The first stage of social selling is to stop selling. Social media is a community environment, and it’s a networking environment on LinkedIn.
“I like to use the analogy of offline networking… people are having a cup of coffee and talking to each other. They’re not going up to each other and saying, ‘these are the products that I sell or the services that I offer,’ and selling at them.
“You just wouldn’t do that – you’d be embarrassed to do that. You also wouldn’t just talk at people.
“Now just think about your LinkedIn homepage and what’s piling through every day. People in a networking environment just talking at you constantly and selling at you – it just doesn’t work, you just ignore it.”
“People are checking you out all the time and you should be checking them out. This is an important part of the sales process; who are your target customers? Build your list.”
“You shouldn’t connect with people on LinkedIn unless you’ve had some level of engagement with them first – it’s the biggest mistake you can make.”
“The right way [to grow a network on LinkedIn] is to target the right people first of all through research and then find a way to engage with them. The best place to engage on LinkedIn is in groups. It’s where the most activity is and where people are more open to getting involved in any form of engagement.”
“Immediately [after engagement] we bang off an invite to them: ‘Great discussing subject X with you in X group, let’s connect.’”
5. Provide content
“Now you’re a connection it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get business from them. The next thing, and this is critical, is to provide them with interesting content.
“If you know your markets and you know your clients you should know what they’re interested in.
“Now you start providing them with content – don’t just broadcast though. Follow thought-leaders’ blogs, look at LinkedIn today… do your work to build more and more contacts. This is where a marketing department really comes in to play.
6. Build trust
“When you post something in a status update, always comment on it. Don’t just broadcast it – that’s just throwing stuff out there. Ask people what they think.
“Provided you do that and keep doing that you will start to build respect. This isn’t something that happens overnight, but it does build trust and anybody who’s ever done selling will know trust is critical to win business.”
“Through that process of continued engagement – not broadcasting – they [your contacts] will start to see you in a different light and at that stage the final process is to then go and meet them.
“The bad news is that LinkedIn is not a tool that is going to accelerate your sales over night, because it just doesn’t work that way.”
“It will be a simple call or email to say ‘let’s meet for a coffee’… and that’s when you sell. None of the online stuff involves selling at all. It’s all about building relationships and trust and through that you can sell.”
The Golden Hour
“The Golden Hour on LinkedIn is 8.15am to 9.15am – that’s when people are noticing their homepage. There’s no difference between Monday to Friday.
Mark’s five tips
1. Involvement in groups gets you noticed
“[Groups] are where the majority of activity is on LinkedIn – 110m unique visitors a month and a high percentage of those are in groups.
2. Referrals are key to winning business
“Referrals have always been the key to winning business, but it’s exactly the same online.”
3. A profile Picture is critical
“You just need a profile picture that’s a close-up head shot. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It’s so people can recognise and remember you because people remember faces. It’s like your personal brand logo. It’s not a would-be on LinkedIn it’s absolutely critical.”
4. Put your name and describe your offering in your headline
“Everyone sees your headline, therefore if you put your name in it everyone knows your name and it’s about visibility.
“A job title is not a headline. A headline is something that says ‘I know exactly what this person does and I want to get in touch with them.’ Start with your name and then describe what you offer.”
5. Contact details at the top of your summary
“Always put your contact details right at the top of the summary of your profile… summary is an area that everyone on LinkedIn sees. If you want to make yourself visible to 180m people think about what goes in your headline and in your summary.”