LinkedIn just announced their earnings last week for the first time since going public, and it was good to see that their membership (now at 115 million members) and website traffic (#11 in the U.S., #13 in the world) continue to grow. When I wrote my first LinkedIn book back in early 2009, LI was at 40 million users and had not yet established itself as the default social networking platform for professionals that it has become. Beyond mere networking, however, in 2011 there is now a compelling case to be made for us to rethink how we view LinkedIn not as a job seeker’s paradise, but as the place to do B2B social business. It is with that thought in mind, bringing my own nearly two decades of successful B2B sales and marketing experience into play, that I decided and am happy to announce the publication of my 2nd book Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing.
To be honest with you, some of you might remember my top social media books blog post several months ago where I said, “…be forewarned that my Twitter book is next in line.” It was in late March of this year, with the manuscripts of both that Twitter book as well as this new book more than half done, that I made the decision to finish this new book first. The IPO, the continued belief that there were too many common LinkedIn fallacies that needed to be addressed, and the need for more literature on B2B social media marketing made me feel that it would provide more value to my readers to release this one first.The new book goes into practical details, enhanced with more than 15 case studies of others who have accomplished what I say is possible, on the plethora of ways that exist in which both businesses as well as professionals can maximize LinkedIn to generate new leads, foster brand loyalty, increase targeted website traffic, and close deals. As a sneak preview, I wanted to summarize some points of my book in a 10-step approach to give you some ideas to help you maximize the professional social networking platform for the sales and marketing efforts of your own business. Each point represents a preview of one of the chapters to give you a feel for the content and scope of what I cover in the book.
- LI requires a certain mindset in order to be successful on it. Just as there are some who go to business networking events who come back thinking it was a waste of time, there are others who come back with leads or relationships that when cultivated will lead to business. As one of those who I interviewed for the book suggested, “LinkedIn is only valuable if you decide to be an active member.”
- Still don’t think your business needs to be on LinkedIn? Many companies are missing out on potential business by paying too much attention to other social media platforms and not taking advantage of the tools that LinkedIn allows companies, and professionals, to utilize to promote themselves and their businesses. If you’re a B2B company, make no doubt about the fact that most decision makers you want to target are already on LinkedIn, and they can potentially be far more approachable than on a personal networking platform such as Facebook. Even B2C companies, like the Irish Dog Bloody Mary Mix case study in the book, show that B2C companies have B2B relationships (distributors, marketing partners, et. al.) that can be cultivated on LinkedIn to develop new business. In the case of the bloody mary mix company, they are now generating 25% of their business from LinkedIn!
- Just as you need a website to promote your company on the Internet, your employees need an optimized LI profile to best represent their company and products and services. LinkedIn is a database of professionals that is often used to find other professionals and businesses. If Facebook were the White Pages, LinkedIn is the Yellow Pages. Because of this, professionals and companies need to be found just like they need to be sure they are classified correctly and displayed prominently in the phone book. Creating a sales-oriented profile starts by understanding where your customer is and what they might be looking for and adjusting your profile appropriately. In other words, your profile is not about you – it is a sales tool to help your potential customers find you.
- Because it’s 2011 and LinkedIn has grown by 60% in the last year alone, it’s time to re-establish your online network. Every connection added gives you that much additional reach to find and be found. It’s also time to rethink your connections policy and begin to strategically target new connections who might be able to help you and your sales and marketing objectives.
- Every business needs to understand the importance of establishing and optimizing their presence on LinkedIn Companies. Having a presence on Companies is not just about putting your company in the LI database just as professionals do with their profiles. It is about recognizing that recommendations from your products and services within your Companies page can play a vital role in generating business similar to how personal recommendations give instant credibility to professional profiles.
- Why do so many companies have Facebook Pages but never think about creating their own LinkedIn Group? Not only do Groups have far more moderating features than Facebook Pages have, but they allow you to create a community of potential customers or present users in the most lucrative demographic of any social media website.
- Many professionals create their profiles and then wait for something to happen. Similar to the business networking event analogy, just showing up will get you nowhere. It’s about engaging on LinkedIn, and there are many public forums and applications which, with a little out-of-the-box thinking, give you the opportunity to engage with other professionals in a business atmosphere for business objectives.
- With new applications such as LinkedIn Signal and LinkedIn Today, the professional networking website is quickly becoming a source of business intelligence for the sales and marketing professional. Since social media monitoring tools do not cover LI yet, you will have to manually look through various public forums and applications for information, but there is a great deal of intelligence to be gleaned that can lead to new business for the effort.
- Social media optimization is about using social media activity to bring more visitors to your website. For many websites like TechCrunch or even this Windmill Networking site, LinkedIn provides the 2nd largest source of website traffic from social media websites. From my experience, traffic from LI also provides the lowest bounce rate as well as highest number of page views per visit. There are many ways to use LI to drive traffic back to your website, but if you’re not getting enough traffic from LinkedIn to your website, you’re missing out on potentially high quality and lucrative visitors.
- Which is the only social advertising platform which lets you target by company and title? LinkedIn Ads aren’t cheap, but LI is a quality over quantity platform that is appropriate for targeting decision makers for your B2B or expensive B2C product.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways in which LinkedIn can be used to help your company or yourself from a sales and marketing perspective. I hope you enjoyed the above tips and I further hope that this new book helps revolutionize the way that businesses look at LI similarly to how my 1st has helped thousands of professionals to gain insight on how to navigate and benefit from a robust and social presence on the professional networking platform.
Members of the Windmill Networking mailing list will have a chance to receive a sneak preview version of Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing free-of-charge in the near future. If you’re still not convinced you need this book, sign up here to ensure you receive notification when this happens!