Recently, several of my friends have requested some guidance with regard to using Linkedin for business development. My concern was that Linkedin can be powerful when used correctly. Linkedin can also be a force to demotivate sales and alienate potential customers.
Social media, and particularly Linkedin, are networking tools that when applied correctly, can grow your business. For some reason, the people who use it incorrectly will stop reading after this last sentence and go on to make the types of mistakes that have people opting out and disconnecting from them.
Here are the three biggest Linkedin Mistakes that I see made over and over by sales and marketing pros who are too eager to “use” social media to generate leads. Frankly, any of the following mistakes would result in not connecting, disconnecting or opting out.
Three BIG Linkedin Mistakes:
First mistake – if you met someone at a networking event, chamber meeting, or family barbeque and you exchanged business cards that’s not always the best way to add to your network. When you establish a rapport with someone, and you feel that you can confidently recomment their services or refer business to them, then you should add them to your network. A great thing to do when you add someone is to mention how you met them or something from that conversation. I cannot tell you the number of times I have not accepted a request to connect because I didn’t remember whether I knew the person or how we met.
Second mistake – if the person connects with you, please, do not send them a note immediately trying to share what you do and why they should work with you. Unless that’s continuing a conversation where the person indicated that they were interested, slamming someone that way will not endear you to the new connection.
Third mistake – if you think it’s cool to send your ‘newsletter’ or ‘announcement’ to all your contacts through Linkedin and that your going to get a ton of business that way, thing again. It’s actually somewhat disrespectful to send a blanket email to your contacts that way. No one wants to be addressed as “Dear Contact”. The power of Linkedin is that it gives you some great information, and you have the opportunity to make the connection more personal.
Best practices – Linkedin
Here’s a recipe to utilize the power of Linked in that can work for you. Let me know if you have other tips that work well, and we can share them.
- Fill in your entire profile. Linkedin represents an opportunity to share your resume online. Be complete and share relevant information that can be searched for keywords.
- Use links to your website and change the description for SEO. The links in your profile use default descriptions for “my website” and “m y blog”. You can change these to a phrase or company name for improved search engine optimization.
- Ask for Referrals. If one of your contacts is connected to someone you would like to know, there is an appropriate way to request a referral. Be sure to explain how you can HELP the recipient contact. If you only want to connect to sell them something, or if you do not add value, you should re-think wasting your contact’s time.
- Connect with your former associates. Think about high school or college – each of your friends there has gone on to different organizations or companies. Adding them to your network can expand the strength of your network considerably. People you used to work with, for example, most likely have moved on to other positions within other organizations. Adding them to your network gives you the opportunity to connect with their connections or ask fro introductions… Very powerful when used correctly!
- Join groups. A little known feature of groups is that it adds the ability to connect with other members of the group. If you want to meet people or add to your network, joining groups and participating in group discussions is a great way to get your name out there.
- Ask questions. Withing groups and within Linkedin, asking questions can help you to identify others who can utilize your services. A well worded question can expose motivations and vulnerabilities that you have the ability to help with. For example, a client who does vehicle wraps could ask a question regarding the top issues for wrapping a fleet of vehicles. If answered, the person has now identified the fact that they have a fleet of vehicles and that they are having a problem. Based upon the problem, this could be an amazing prospect… Think about it!
- Connect with other group members. Other group members have networks too – and their network could be greatly different than yours. By connecting with others in your group, you now have new contacts that are just a couple of degrees of seperation from you, and those numbers increase algebraically.
- Use Search to connect with company. If you use the search function within Linkedin, it helps you discover who, within your network, may be connected with someone at that company. Try it – it’s very cool!
- Ask for introductions. If you share how you can help the person you are requesting an introduction to, and if you have a good relationship with the person from whom you are requesting the introduction, this can be a powerful tool.
- Post periodically. Recently LinkedIn introducted the ability to have articles posted. It’s wonderful exposure – you never know who you may reach! If your post is intelligent and has good content, you will get some attention.