12 Reasons Why Your Small Business Isn’t Getting Leads from LinkedIn

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I am amazed by how many small businesses do not utilize social media to the maximum.  Think about it: social media, like the internet two decades ago, allows any business to compete with larger, more established entities.  Come on, what are you waiting for?

What further amazes me is how few small businesses maximize their presence on LinkedIn and instead just follow the trend of Facebook and Twitter.  Why would a niche B2B company establish a Facebook Fan Page when their potential customers may not be social on Facebook yet are already used to networking on LinkedIn?  I’m confused.

That’s why, as a social media strategist, I took the approach of first blogging and thereafter writing my first book on LinkedIn, not the other popular sites.  In fact, as I said in my recent speech at Gravity Summit at UCLA, “LinkedIn is Your Hub for B2B Social Media Marketing.”  And I meant it.

Keeping that theme in mind, and combined with a recent experience I had looking for a vendor on LinkedIn, I wanted to share advice with you small business owners of why you’re not getting inbound leads from your presence on the social networking site.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is free consulting, so please heed my advice!

We all know that we are spending more and more time on social media, and thus we are now looking at social media as a huge resource of information.  Going beyond that, when we look for someone to do business with, we also tend to use social media as part of that process.  I personally use LinkedIn over Google whenever I am looking for a new vendor.  Why?  Because at least I know who I am doing business with!  But if you are not displaying yourself on LinkedIn with the utmost in authenticity as a trusted person to do business with, I definitely will NOT do business with you.

This should give you some good background into my thought process.  Let’s move on to the 12 reasons why your small business isn’t getting leads from LinkedIn: (note that this is only advice on your Profile…there is lots more advice that I can provide you if you are interested!)

1 – You’re Not on LinkedIn

How can you, as a small business owner, not even be on the biggest social networking site for professionals?  Even if you are a B2C company, don’t you have partner and vendor relationships with other companies?  Don’t you want to be creating alliances with other businesses? There are many reasons why every B2C company also have a B2B side to them, and this is the reason why there is no excuse for not being on LinkedIn.  You are simply missing out on the potential.

2 – Who are You?

If you don’t have a photo on your profile, you are invisible.  Who wants to do business with the Invisible Man?  Not me!  And not many of your potential customers!


Let me give an example here.  I live in Orange County, California.  I look for service providers close to my zip code.  I only contact those that display “Orange County, California” on their profiles.  Let’s say you live in Los Angeles County but actually have your office in Orange County…which zip code are you using for your LinkedIn Profile?  If you are not using your BUSINESS zip code, you are misrepresenting yourself…and missing out on potential business.  Fix it.  Now.

4 – What Industry are You in?

If I am looking for a bookkeeper, I am searching in the “Accounting” industry.  Perhaps you are a bookkeeper and want to upsell consulting services and choose “Financial Services” or “Management Consultant” for your industry.  You are only going to get the leads that are aligned with your industry, so choose carefully!

5 – Did You Attend School?

It still amazes me how many people skip over this section of their LinkedIn Profile.  Education is another data point that proves that you are “real.”  Especially if you work in an industry where a college degree is important, being skimpy on this section means that potential leads are NOT going to contact you.

6 – What? No Recommendations?!?!?  Really?

Seriously.  You’ve been in business for several years.  You have happy clients that you refer potential customers to.  Yet you don’t have any LinkedIn Recommendations?  You do have clients that would be happy to write them for you, right?  I hope so!  By the way, unless you have 3 Recommendations your profile does not show up as being “100% complete,” so this is another reason why every small business owner should have at least 3 LinkedIn Recommendations!

7 – Why Aren’t You Connected?

I don’t care what your personal policy is: LinkedIn is a database that will help you get found if people are looking for you.  But guess what?  If you don’t have enough connections you aren’t going to be found nearly as often.  Also, as a professional who has a long list of people that you have gone to school with, personally know, done business with, or worked together with, can’t you get your LinkedIn Connections number up to at least 100?  It scares me when I see a small business owner on with only a few connections…are they for real?  Why don’t they have more connections?  It raises too many questions to have an over-limiting policy.  And if you signed up and forgot about it, you might as well delete your profile because an inactive profile is only working against you and is a form of negative advertisement.  Maximize or delete: There is no middle road in social media.  And don’t make me have to pay to contact you by sending you an InMail: You should be paying me for helping you get connected!  Done deal?

8 – Does Your Company Have a Website?

When I was looking for a service provider, I was shocked by how many did not include a link to their Company Website.  Come on people!  Why make your potential customers dig for information about your company?  I wouldn’t waste the time doing so…and neither would your potential clients.  LinkedIn provides you the functionality right there in Editing Your Profile: Use it!

9 – It’s All About the Keywords

This is a no-brainer, but let me remind you just in case.  Just as you have a website filled with words to help potential clients find you, you need to do the same on your LinkedIn Profile.  I was shocked by how many small business owners put the absolute bare minimum in their Profile.  Talking about an opportunity loss…  If you don’t have a place for the keywords, your Summary as well as what I write about in 10) are appropriate.

10 – You ARE Experienced, Right?

LinkedIn is giving every small business owner major real estate by allowing you to 1) list the company and title where you currently and previously worked and 2) to write about your experiences with each company.  Why small business owners are not taking advantage of this space to write about their experiences in keyword-rich terms is beyond me.  I am a social media strategist, not a psychiatrist!  And, beyond that, if you say nothing about your experiences, how else do you show off your expertise in your Profile?  And if you don’t show off your expertise, why would I even call you in the first place?  See what I’m getting at?  I hope so…

11 – Don’t You See the Value of LinkedIn Groups?

There are many reasons why small business owners should be all over these Groups.  But even if you don’t participate in them, there are two huge reasons why you should be a member of many groups:

  • You need to be where your potential customer is, so find the groups that your potential customer might be in, join them, and ideally actively participate.
  • Groups allows potential customers an easy way to contact you: Even if you are not directly connected, the default setting for Group members is that you have the ability to directly message each other.

See my point now?  Even joining 1 of the largest groups as well as 1 of the largest regional groups may be enough to allow tens of thousands of people the opportunity to contact you.

12 – How Do I Contact You?

LinkedIn has a spot at the bottom of your profile for “Contact Settings.”  Most people leave it blank.  If you are a business, and you are listed in the telephone directory, would you only show your name and city?  Exactly!  Why not make it easy for potential clients to contact you?  If you don’t want to show your phone number, a business email address is sufficient.  But write something here, please!

As you can see, optimizing your LinkedIn Profile is not just for the jobseeker.  When you and/or your small business is ready to get serious about social media marketing, make sure you read my LinkedIn Book or contact me to learn more about my social media strategic consultancy services for solo entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Would love to hear your experiences with getting social media leads…have you had people contact you and say they found you on LinkedIn?  Do tell!  If not, how many of the above mistakes are you guilty of?

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Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
I liked a @YouTube video from @jamietshanks http://t.co/AluPNT0dFd Social Selling Summit - Neal Schaffer (Sept. 1st, 2015) - 7 hours ago
Neal Schaffer
LinkedIn Ebook


  1. says

    100% spot on! The only addition I would make is Linkedin Answers. I love Answers it gives me the ability to share my knowledge and learn from some of the worlds brightest minds. I probably get 3-5 really good connection from people I want to talk to a week based on my Answers I have posted and have landed numerous press interviews, conference speaking gigs and expert requests from authors.

    Also I can't number the people I have not connected to or done business with because they have no recommendations. Seriously there is no one in the world who will recommend your work? If so I certainly don't want to know you or do business with you.

    Great post Neal.

  2. says

    Thanks Derrick. Yes Answers can also be powerful, and there are a host of other things that I didn't even bring up. My analysis was really only done by looking at a LinkedIn Profile, but as you know a profile can say A LOT about you!

    Glad you agreed that LinkedIn Recommendations is a no brainer 😉


  3. says

    Yup, I attended a local talk on social media for small business here in Toronto and the guy said that LinkedIn was his best social media site out of the big three as well. He said that his international contracts came as a result of being on LinkedIn. Although it seem that LinkedIn to us newbies seem to offer much less interaction opportunities than say Facebook or Twitter, the quality of the people on LinkedIn seems superb, with many middle to high level execs — perfect for B2B. He did mention that to get value out of LinkedIn, one must spend time with it.

  4. says

    Great list! I agree, whenever I see a vendor or job seeker with barely any connections, no group affiliations and zero recommendations, I can't help but wonder. Facebook and Twitter are fun but nothing is as solid as LinkedIn when it comes to professional networking.

    I also agree with the previous comment about the Q&A section. I find it amazing that I can ask a question and experts from all over the world respond with their ideas and recommendations… you get extremely qualified advice, and it's FREE. On the other end, answering questions gives you the opportunity to show off your expertise too.

  5. says

    Essential tips here, Neal! I too am constantly amazed that so few people maximize LI's functionality. There is no excuse when info like this is readily available. Often I encounter job seekers who are reluctant to fully leverage the benefits of a fully completed profile. Others are using the tools, but many times inadvertently cause damage to their brand in the process due to unfortunate presentation of their information.

  6. says

    I'm pretty luke warm on this list (maybe I'm the only one). I totally agree that it's a great networking tool, I love the groups and take the time to interact with peers, customers, etc.

    I, however don't really agree with all of this. We all know that recommendations are a bit of a scam. Although they're probably very genuine, they're simply “write me one, and I'll write you one”. I've never asked for a recommendation, I do however provide them for individuals that have worked for me in the past and companies that have provided a service. I've never had anyone refuse to link in with me on the basis that I don't have any recommendations, but then it's about building a semi-warm to warm network so a cold “link to me” shouldn't happen.

    The other piece I could care less about is a picture. I always thought it was odd that realtors had their mug on every piece of literature they put out, now half on linkedIn does. I don't do business with pictures, I do it with people. I'm assuming my customers think the same, or they're wondering where my half inch by half inch picture is and not telling me.

    In the end, Linkedin is a great networking tool. I also believe that it does a great job at providing an opportunity to learn more about peers as well as get insight into potential customers. Closing a deal will require more than a picture on linkedin or a few planted referrals. If those are even part of your decision making routine when purchasing services or products you may have some issues in judgement.

    I run a marketing firm that sells B2B clients – so this post may not even be geared toward me, but I don't think my clients would disagree with my sentiment either. Our sales cycles take upwards of 3- 6 months, by that time we already have a good relationship with our clients and lack of recommendation won't really matter (they will check references for real) and they've already seen my face (it's bigger than a postage stamp).

  7. says

    Thanks for the comments Ron! And let me tackle your points one by one.

    First of all having some recommendations is better than having none. A recommendation is a data point that shows that you are real. Of course, when looking at recommendations, everyone is looking at who wrote them, what their relationship was, and what was the basis of the recommendation. You point out that no one has refused to link with you because you had no recommendations; however, linking with someone is very different than someone looking through LinkedIn search results for a possible service provider and passing you over because you didn't have recommendations.

    For the picture it is the same issue: are you for real? Why would you not want to put your picture on your profile? LinkedIn is, at the heart of it, a social networking platform, and not having a picture is, in some ways, being anti-social. I believe that not posting a picture, when compared to your competitors who may have pictures, may work against you.

    Ron, while I don't disagree with your assessment in your last two paragraphs, my point is that your company might be missing out on inbound marketing leads that you might not know about. You don't have to be on LinkedIn to close business, and once you are in contact with a customer what is on LinkedIn becomes irrelevant. But we are becoming more of a Reputation Economy, and as more people use and become comfortable using LinkedIn, I do believe that many small business owners are making mistakes which may be costing them potential inbound marketing leads, nothing more and nothing less.

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