Thursday, May 27, 2010

 

Want more business from LinkedIn? Do these five things

Like many social, networking and productivity tools for business, LinkedIn can deliver significant measurable value for your business and career, but also suck way too much of your time if you’re not careful.   Finding the right balance between investing for results, and getting out to focus on real-world priorities, is key.

In a B2B context especially, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to find new prospects, research competitors, passively nurture and stay in touch with those in your network, and quickly identify customers who are ready to buy.  Here are five things you can do with LinkedIn, starting today, to improve your LinkedIn productivity and results.

Carefully consider the keywords in your bio and capabilities summary.  Think like a prospect, who is searching on LinkedIn for someone who can help them with (fill in the blank).   What do you know?   What problems can you solve?  What help can you provide?  Think not just about solutions, but the pain/problems your customers and network faces, and the objectives/outcomes they’re seeking.  They’ll search for those things, so make sure the right keywords are in your profile.

Add everyone you know to your network.  The more connections you have, the more discoverable you are.  LinkedIn search results are by default ordered by network proximity, meaning those who are closes to you (or closest to those who are in your network) show up first in search results.  If you know someone, put them in your network.  Make sure you are in theirs.  The bigger your network, the more likely others can find you and reach you.  I especially encourage the use of LinkedIn’s Outlook extension, which provides one-click LinkedIn invites right from inbound emails.

Join and actively participate in the right groups.  The long tail of groups in LinkedIn is incredible.  It’s a great way to meet people with similar business interests and needs, plus immediately provide value back to those communities in the way of answering their questions, posting articles and generally making yourself visible and available.  There’s a fine line between being visible and dominating the group/conversation, but with value-added content (i.e. don’t sell unless you’re asked for a recommendation or solution) you can build trust & credibility in a one-to-many format focused on a very targeted audience.

Give testimonials to everyone who deserves it.  Make a habit, every week, of giving a public testimonial in LinkedIn to everyone you know who you can vouch for.  You’re doing this both to help them with their objectives and visibility, but also so that you’ll get a greater share of trickle-back testimonials in return.  It’s not only the right thing to do, but more testimonials on your profile demonstrates to new people you’re someone they can trust, who has credibility with others.  That goes a long way towards differentiating yourself and getting the benefit of the doubt when a trusted relationship doesn’t yet exist.

Follow (and respond to) network updates.  The front page of LinkedIn.com is like a business-oriented version of Facebook.  It’s full of updates from everyone in your network – things they’re saying, things they’ve published, changes to their careers, etc.  Get in the habit of reviewing this information daily, and responding to those in your network with notes of encouragement, congratulations, responses with additional information related to something they’re seeking or researching, etc.  You can follow these network updates via an RSS feed, or get a daily morning email with updates from yesterday, or simple get in the habit of visiting LinkedIn.com each day.  It’s a treasure trove of excuses to reach out contextually to people, rekindle a connection, and spark a new opportunity on one or both sides.

 





 


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