How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads and New Business (and Screw It Up Too!)

As of April 2017, LinkedIn now has a half billion users, exceeding Twitter which only has 300+ million as of the end of 2016. As an online business networking and connecting platform, there’s no question that LinkedIn beats the much more social Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn allows you to connect to your business colleagues, and reach out to people with whom you’d like to do business or even get a job.

I’ve been a long-time user of LinkedIn, and have over 14,000 direct connections, which is a large network of people. If you’d like to connect with me, please send me a request here, and I’d love to connect if you want to network together.

Unfortunately, many people use LinkedIn as their personal hunting ground, and all they see are “marks” to whom they can pitch their stuff.

I get perhaps a dozen connection requests per week, and I’ll accept most of them. The exceptions are:

  • You don’t have a profile picture
  • Your profile picture or name is a company, product or logo
  • Your title sounds like you’re just going to pitch me after connecting

I just connected today with someone, and got this Inmail from him:

“Hi Thomas, Thanks for connecting with me. I hope you are doing well! We are an award-winning, full service, Digital agency that helps brands drive consumer engagement through brand interaction and experiences. Our hourly rates are $25…”

Blah blah blah blah blah. This is called Show Up and Throw Up. As soon as you connect, you puke all over my desk all the amazing things your company will do to save world hunger as quickly as you can because you know I’m going to tune out in about 2.3 seconds. *sigh*

I connected with another guy the other day, and immediately, he sent me this message on LinkedIn (bracketed text is mine):

“Hi Thomas, thank you for connecting. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more about your business [yah, sure you are], as well as to tell you about what I do [uh huh]. Digital content is the core thing that everything else is build [typo] on – your messaging, your brand, your marketing, PR, the whole shebang… This is why I created [omitted] – a digital content agency. We don’t deal in campaigns or analytics, since we believe in specialization. We are a one-stop shop for all digital content needs. [we we we blah blah blah] Primarily we do animation explainer videos, since they have show [typo] to be the most effective tool in marketing today. Check out some more info here: ______”

Geez. Thanks for asking me to get married without even going on a first date. No, you didn’t even ask what I do or anything else. Just slap me upside the head with your crap.

If you want to see more sleazy used car salesman examples, read David Meerman Scott’s recent article, 12 Examples of How Not to Use LinkedIn for Social Selling. It’s a good read.

Use LinkedIn to Build Relationships, Not Your Prospect List

Social selling is just that – being “social”. You have to woo your potential clients gently and get to know their needs before you even consider talking to them about the sale. These are my top three things you should do to build those relationships:

My Top Three Ways to Build Relationships on LinkedIn

Make Sure Your Profile is Complete

  • Get a good quality headshot from a professional photographer. Don’t use a cropped pic of you and Aunt Sally at her last birthday party.
  • Fill in all the details – headline, description, positions held, job descriptions, etc.
  • Get recommendations from past employers, colleagues or clients – these really tell a story, and there’s a handy dandy “Ask for a recommendation” button so it makes it easy to ask.

Post Interesting Articles Relevant to Your Customer Base

  • You can either post your own articles in your feed, if you write on a blog, or post other people’s relevant articles with a comment about why it’s compelling.
  • If you’re a writer, post articles in your LinkedIn Pulse page, kind of like your own blog area.
  • I repost my own blog posts there, and link back to the original. Posting in Pulse gets them seen, shared, liked and commented on, which all builds you up as an industry expert.

Join LinkedIn Groups and Participate

You can join up to 50 groups in LinkedIn, but you want to join the ones in which your target audience or ideal clients hang out, not your peers.

Post your Pulse articles, blog posts, press releases or other relevant information to the group. Most groups have policies against pitching your stuff in the groups, so don’t go there. Instead, be a part of the conversation by commenting and liking other people’s posts. Now you’re building trust and soft relationships with others in the group.

You can even gently reach out to folks with whom you share a group and message them directly without being connected. Just identify yourself as “Hey, Jim. We’re in the same group XYZ. I thought you might be interested in reading the post I wrote about ___. Let me know your thoughts.”

If they respond, you’ve got a tentative relationship going. Ask them questions or ask them if they’d like to take a conversation offline via phone or video chat.

There’s a lot more to social selling, but that’s a great start.

Tell me in the comments below: What are some great examples of connecting on LinkedIn that you’ve seen (or some of the worst?) I want to hear it!

(Note: An earlier version of this article originally appeared here.)

2018-02-15T18:22:24+00:00 Digital Marketing|0 Comments

About the Author:

Thomas Petty has been a Digital Marketing and SEO trainer since 2008. He is an HFI Certified Usability Analyst™ from Human Factors International. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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