Category Archives: LinkedIn

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How to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Network

How to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Network written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for small businesses looking to grow their network. They boast 660 million members worldwide and over 165 million in the U.S. alone.

Because it’s a business-focused social network, it’s a necessity for those running B2Bs to have a presence on the platform. But B2C businesses can thrive on LinkedIn as well. Since the network is all about business, many users are going there to seriously look for solutions to a problem they have (unlike Facebook or Instagram, where they might just be going to look for cute pet photos).

If you understand how to use the platform effectively, it can help you grow your network and get ahead of the competition. Here’s how you can do it.

Build a Strong Profile for Yourself

Your journey on LinkedIn all begins with a personal profile. In order to build trust, fill out your page as completely as possible. Include a photo, bio, and full resume. Strangers feel better about connecting with you if they can learn a bit about you from your profile. Plus, the more information you include, the more likely you are to find a meaningful point of connection with a stranger that can help you to reach out.

For example, if you’re both alumni of the same school, that’s any easy point of commonality for you to leverage in your introduction. A request to connect that comes along with a note like “I see you went to KU, too. Always nice to connect with a fellow Jayhawk!” will get you a lot further than a generic greeting.

Also include trust-building elements. LinkedIn allows you to ask your connections for endorsements. Reach out to a few former colleagues or clients already in your LinkedIn network, and get them to say a kind word that specifically outlines the value you bring to a work relationship.

Show How You Can Help Them

Once you do create your profile page, you can start reaching out to people. However, there are a few important rules to follow.

First, do a little research on the people you’re going to connect with. Are they really the right fit for your business? What can you glean about them from their profile that will help you write a tailored message?

That’s the important next step: Take the extra time to create a personalized message. There’s nothing less enticing to a prospect than a generic LinkedIn request to connect that’s clearly been copy-pasted to dozens of other people. Why should that person give you any of their time when you haven’t given them the time to do a little research into what they do? Plus, a generic message makes it all about you; a great sales pitch is about them.

Instead, take a look at their profile. Let’s say you’re a marketing consultant focused on SEO. Visit that prospect’s website and check out their presence on Google. Then drop them a line indicating you’ve done just that and that you already have a few suggestions on quick wins for improving their SEO, if they’d have some time for a chat.

That message is a lot more likely to get a response than something where you’re asking them to define their own problem. After all, you’re the expert—you should be able to identify the problem you solve all on your own! It’s thoughtful, personalized messages that are most likely to get you the add and help you grow your LinkedIn network.

Create a Page for Your Business

Depending on the type of business you run, it might also make sense to create a page for your business. If you’re a solopreneur, you might just need your own profile. If you’re running a local business with a distinct brand, though, there’s value in establishing a separate page for your company.

The rules here are much the same as they are across all of social media. When setting up your profile, make sure that your branding and messaging is consistent with your other online assets (website, other social media profiles, etc.). Fill out the profile as completely as possible, with a description, photos, and contact information. The more background information and ways to connect you can provide to prospects, the better!

You also want to include elements that build trust. Link out to your other social profiles and your website—the more substantive your online presence, the more legitimacy you gain as a business. LinkedIn also allows you to connect your business profile with the LinkedIn profiles of your employees. Take advantage of that feature, as showing that you have a real team of people behind the brand also helps build trust.

Plus, it also allows you to tap into the existing network of your colleagues. People who are already connected with them on LinkedIn will see your business’s name and profile, and may choose to follow you if they know you’re associated with a connection they already know and like.

Post Meaningful Content

Whether you’re posting content through your own personal LinkedIn profile, your company page, or both, you always want to focus on creating posts that start conversations.

Some social media platforms, like Twitter, require a more fast-and-furious approach to posting. With LinkedIn, it’s okay to take a slower cadence, and to share a mix of your own content and curated articles, videos, and more. Even if you’re sharing curated content, though, you want to include your own thoughts on the article or blog in a way that encourages your followers to engage with your thoughts on the matter.

Using hashtags and mentions in your status updates can help expand the reach of your posts. Anyone following those hashtags has a chance of seeing and reacting to your content. And when you mention others, you grab their attention and are more likely to get a share or comment on that content, which then puts you in front of their LinkedIn network.

Once you’ve posted something that sparks a conversation, stick around to engage with followers and keep the discussion rolling! When people respond to your content, you should always respond back. And I don’t just mean a like or a one-word answer. Try to ask questions or comment in a way that opens up a back-and-forth. The longer you can converse with each prospect on a social media thread, the stronger your relationship becomes.

Use Ads Selectively

LinkedIn advertising can help you to tap into an even broader audience for your content. For most small business owners and solopreneurs, the most cost-effective type of LinkedIn advertising is sponsored content. This allows you to boost a post you’ve already shared.

When using ads, it’s important to be selective. Don’t go through boosting every post you put out; that’s a waste of both time and money. Instead, take a look at how each piece of content performs. Pick a handful of posts that have already done well organically and focus on those.

If it performed well without a helping hand, you know that the content was useful and resonated with your audience. Boosting the post will further its reach, and because you know it’s an eye-catching item, it’s more likely to grab the attention of new folks who are looking for a brand just like yours in their LinkedIn network.

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for any business owner looking to expand their network. Whether you’re a solopreneur or the owner of business with dozens of employees, whether you’re focused on B2C or B2B, there is a way to put this valuable platform to work for you.

How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Sales Conversations

How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Sales Conversations written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

 

The video above is a replay of a recent live webinar I hosted with guest Viveka von Rosen. Combined with the text below you should have a pretty good feel for how to use LinkedIn to generate sales conversations.

LinkedIn is the oldest social network. Everyone seems to be on it, but no one seems to know quite how to use it to generate sales conversations.

To help us take advantage of this massive opportunity, today I brought in Viveka von Rosen. She is the co-founder of Vengreso, a leading digital sales transformation company. She is also the author of two books on this very topic, LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and LinkedIn: 101 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand.

She talks with us about how to use LinkedIn to generate real sales conversations by sharing meaningful, engaging content. While she speaks specifically to LinkedIn today, the principles behind her advice can be applied across all other social networks.

Why is LinkedIn Important?

Ninety-four percent of B2B buyers view multiple pieces of content from the vendor they ultimately select. This means that if you’re not sharing content on LinkedIn but your competition is, your prospects will likely pass you by. Additionally, 75 percent of B2B buyers conduct research in social channels for products and services.

Meanwhile, the percentage of salespeople actually meeting their quota has dropped over a five-year period—it’s down to 53 percent. However, those salespeople who are using social selling have a 50 percent higher chance of reaching quota.

Building Your Personal Profile

On LinkedIn, you can’t just rely on a company page; you need to have a personal page in order to really connect with others. It’s between personal profiles where the conversations that lead to sales really occur.

This means that you need to create a strong personal page that showcases your brand. If your personal page is unappealing, sloppy, or lacks the appropriate information, you could lose a prospect.

  • Does your profile build credibility? People want to do business with those they know, like, and trust.
  • Does your profile show how you solve problems? LinkedIn is not the same as a resume—people viewing your profile want to know how you can help them. Think about including real-world examples of how you’ve helped past clients address their pain points.
  • Does your profile create conversation? Your profile should have rich content that attracts viewers. Once they’re there, make sure there’s a way for them to reach you. It seems basic, but make sure your phone number or email are on your profile so that people can actually get in touch!

The Importance of Sharing Content

If you go into LinkedIn with tunnel vision towards sales, you’re missing the entire point. Think about LinkedIn as a networking event—would you go up to someone at a conference and immediately ask them to buy your product or service? Of course not! The same principles of offline networking apply on LinkedIn.

The best way to get to know people on LinkedIn is to educate your audience. This positions you immediately as helpful and useful, which in turn builds positive sentiment. Suddenly, you’ve transformed from pushy salesperson to an advocate and thought leader in your industry.

What Does Content for Sales Engagement Look Like?

When thinking about content, it’s important to consider both the content you create yourself and the content you share that comes from other sources. Each type of content has its own set of rules to create the greatest levels of engagement and generate real interest and real conversations.

Whatever type of content you’re sharing, you want to be sure you’re doing it consistently. You should be sharing content at least once a day. One way to help you reach this goal is to establish a sharing community. Contact friends and influencers in your network, asking them to make a pact to share each others’ content. This will give you a steady stream of curated content to share with your network and will help to ensure that the content you’ve created is getting a wider reach.

Status Updates

Status updates on LinkedIn are very similar to updates on other social networks. There are a number of best practices for creating status updates that will get greater reach. Following these tips can help your posts get ten times greater visibility.

  • Include hashtags. Hashtag communities is a newer feature on LinkedIn that allows business owners to follow the topics they find most relevant. If you create content with a particular hashtag attached, it will likely be shared with the individuals who are members of that hashtag community. This gives your content a wider audience beyond your personal connections. The trick here is to not over-hashtag. Aim for three or four hashtag community hashtags and one additional hashtag that is unique to your brand.
  • Make mentions. When you’re talking about someone specific in your post, mention them so that they’re notified. You can mention others who are not directly a part of the update, but who might find it useful. Again, moderation is key; keep mentions to a handful of people who are influential and will find the material relevant.
  • Use all the characters. You’re allowed up to 1,300 characters per post. Be sure to use them! More characters means more keywords, which in turn means greater visibility. Research has also shown that longer posts are more likely to be read.
  • Use emojis. Emojis can be a great way to add some visual interest to your post and set you apart from the sea of text-only updates. Keep your audience in mind, and select emojis that are appropriate for your business and clientele.
  • Add native video, images, and links. Doing so will limit you to 1,200 characters, but the added visual interest can also help you to stand out from the crowd.

Native Video

Native video is uploaded directly from your browser or your phone and imbedded in LinkedIn. It is not the same as sharing a link that sends users to an outside video site, which LinkedIn discourages as it drives traffic away from their platform. Sharing native videos gets you more views and attention on the site.

Because video content can take a bit longer to create, it’s not necessary to share video each and every day. But know that native video garners incredible results, so the more regularly you can create and post video content, the better.

From tips and tricks videos that can help your audience solve relevant problems, to interviews with thought leaders, to the relatively new “about us” videos that you can put on your company page, there are a lot of great ways to create native video.

LinkedIn Native Video Tips

LinkedIn Articles

LinkedIn Articles used to have far greater reach. In recent years, LinkedIn has shifted focus to other forms of content, and so posting articles does not have the same kind of power to create visibility as it once did.

However, if you’re already writing a blog post for another forum and want to put it into LinkedIn as an article, it can help to amplify your reach beyond your company’s website. The posts are searchable, can possibly be distributed on a pulse channel, and the content becomes a permanent extension of your personal brand.

Amplify Your Content With Ads

LinkedIn advertising can help you to raise awareness and get the word out about your brand to a new audience. LinkedIn now allows you to sponsor content on your company page, which can help to build followers and reach for your content.

LinkedIn Ads

There are a number of different types of ads available to companies on LinkedIn.

  • Sponsored content. When you share an article, video, or images on your company page and you want the content to get greater visibility, you use this type of ad.
  • Dynamic ads. This option allow you to personalize your messaging to prospects, with ads that appear on the side bars of users’ LinkedIn pages.
  • Text Ads. Similar to the dynamic ads, but smaller and not personalized. Split testing on text ads is very simple. These are best utilized for top of funnel content.
  • Sponsored InMail. This allows you to send targeted messages to those who are most likely to have an interest in your business.

Dynamic ads, text ads, and sponsored InMail are significantly more expensive, so for small business owners, sponsored content is generally the most viable option. There are several types of sponsored content you can create: you can drive traffic to your website or content, build lead generation forms to collect contact information, or increase video views.

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

From there, LinkedIn will prompt you to select the specific post or video you’d like to promote. Next, you can indicate to LinkedIn who your desired audience is and establish your budget for the campaign.

It’s better for you to be specific in identifying your target audience. Establishing five campaigns to 1,000 people each is more effective than creating one campaign for 5,000 people. Creating audience groups allows you to segment your audience, personalizing the description on the same content you shared with other audience groups. This personalization can attract greater attention from each subset of your audience.

The other LinkedIn ads trick is that if you want more views, you should select pay-per-click, and if you want more clicks, select pay-per-view. This is a way to get the most out of your marketing dollars.

LinkedIn Ads Best Practices

Mine Your Engaged Network

It’s not enough to just create and curate great content; once people begin reacting to what you’re sharing, you need to follow through! Keep an eye on who’s liking and sharing your sponsored content. Hover over their names to learn more about them: Do they seem like they might be a good prospect for you? If so, reach out with a request to connect, thanking them for engaging with your content and opening the door for further discussion.