Last month we talked about social selling on Twitter and how important it can be particularly as a path to initiating meaningful connections on LinkedIn. Today we switch to LinkedIn and, in the end, social selling on LinkedIn or on any other platform is only about two things …
- Connecting with the right people and …
- Building individual relationships with these same folks
The right people are those who will either buy from you directly or who will refer you to those who will. Relationships are critical in terms of securing their business, gaining their repeat business, and earning the right, the trust, to be referred. Funny thing is … this is absolutely no different than selling in real-life. Imagine that.
This will be Part I of a two-part series with Part II coming next month. Please note! LinkedIn’s web application is going through a major user interface overhaul right now in order to make it more consistent with its mobile offerings. You may or may not be seeing this yet (I am not at the time of this writing). While there are significant changes, they do not effect this article.
Your profile – Whereas on Twitter you will have a very simplistic personal profile, LinkedIn is the polar opposite and it is your chance to shine! Many people will look at their profiles as being extensions of their resumes and there is, of course, a certain degree of truth to that. However, if you are in sales, your LinkedIn profile is your inbound selling tool.
Your profile sits there 365/24/7, attracts people to you and your services, and is discoverable by those who are looking for folks like you who offer the services that you do. So, the questions become … will they find you and then what will they find if they do? You can start by taking a look at some colleagues who you really respect and who have an awesome presence on LinkedIn and then … emulate.
Be sure to include your awards, certificates, volunteer causes … anything pertinent. Often, these will provide connection points. LinkedIn will also allow you to make your profile pop through the use of images, documents, videos, and slides. A visually appealing and interesting profile is one that others will want to visit, to read, and to share.
Your company page – Unlike Twitter, LinkedIn allows for company pages and your company should have one which will provide for a unified and consistent message. Your work history, completed correctly, will automatically connect you to your company page. It just adds another level of professionalism.
Once we have identified our goals, and these will be largely based on our understanding of the potential of LinkedIn for social selling, we can then develop our strategies to achieve these goals. Our goals for social selling with LinkedIn are generally the same as with Twitter …
Branding – You now have the ability to create and nurture your very own personal brand. What does this mean to you as a salesperson? Unlike your company brand that generates leads for the company that may be given to you, your personal brand gives all generated leads directly to you.
Your profile on LinkedIn can become very much like your own personal website complete with your contact information, information regarding your products and services, and even a blog (LinkedIn Publisher). Unlike your website, your profile is easily promoted directly to, and viewed by, your selected target market. #Awesome!
Find – This includes discovering new opportunities as well as connecting with the right people who might want to do business with you and/or refer you to those who do. If you are B2B, there is a very high likelihood that LinkedIn may be your honeypot.
Be found – One of the best parts of social selling is that people (buyers) are looking for people like you (providers) and they are doing so 24 hours each and every day. This is only one of the biggest changes in buyer behaviors! Obviously, you want to turn up in these searches and the higher your search ranking the better.
I think of strategies as being the road-maps to achieving our goals. Not having a solid strategy is much like a goal that has not been clearly articulated, does not include defined steps, and has not been assigned a date for successful completion. These are called wishes.
One of your most important strategies (and we talked about this with Twitter) will be to develop a target buyer persona. This is the only way that you will be able to define who you want to connect to. Once you have accomplished this, you can then create and deploy your strategies to build those relationships and these should be documented in a step-by-step manner.
Search based on your target buyer persona – LinkedIn is changing the way that search works. In order to be able to access a version of LinkedIn’s traditional advanced search (assuming that you have been updated to the new interface), you will now have to invest in a Sales Navigator account. If not, you can use Boolean search along with LinkedIn’s new built-in filters.
Connecting – Where possible, cite those occasions where you may have already engaged including on other social platforms such as Twitter. LinkedIn offers the ability to personalize connection requests but, not always (particularly on mobile). There have been several times when I have wanted to personalize a request and LinkedIn has just gone ahead on its own and sent out a template invitation.
Now then, if you can personalize the request .. do so! I rarely accept template invitations but, providing that we have previously engaged in some fashion, I would suggest that you will have a better than average chance of being recognized. If we have not, you will likely want to figure out some way to alert me via email or offline.
Sharing & engaging – There are several ways to do this and much of this can be done on LinkedIn prior to formally requesting a first-degree connection. As with Twitter, we want our engagements to personalized and progressive.
Here is one of the great things about LinkedIn. Assuming that you have connected to your target market, whatever you share is being shared directly with these same people and with one gazillionth of the competing noise that would be associated with Twitter.
Like with the other networks, you can share links, updates, photos, slides, videos, and like, comment, and share forward to your network (similar to a Twitter retweet). You can mention people and bring that to their attention. People will be notified anytime you engage with them or their updates.
These conversations are also an excellent opportunity to discover those people who are engaging directly with your connections. Even better, as a part of this conversation, you can engage with them as well which will, if appropriate, serve as an excellent foundation for a connection request.
This is one of the many ways that you can establish your expertise and your brand on LinkedIn. You answer appropriate questions, you help where you can, you educate others on your products and services. What you do not do is sell. The social selling model calls for education and attraction. You will have time to sell later.
Private messaging vs @ messaging – You can publicly @ message anyone at any time just by starting to type in their name and then selecting it from the list. Private messaging is limited to …
- Your first-degree connections
- InMail if you have a premium account
- Other group members but within the group interface only
- People with premium accounts who allow anyone to message them (OpenLink)
- An invitation to connect is also a private message. Personalize these with a reason to connect rather than squander these opportunities with a template invitation.
If you want to lose connections quickly, use private messaging to immediately, and repeatedly, try to sell stuff. If you want to build relationships that lead to sales, engage in public touches (messaging, not displays of affection) and then, at the appropriate time, use private messaging to offer help rather than a sales pitch.
This concludes Part I of this two-part series. Be sure to tune in next month for Part II where we will continue with LinkedIn tactics and much more!