I’m often approached by people looking for advice such as, “how do I use LinkedIn to grow my business?”. In my previous blog, ‘How should your LinkedIn profile look?‘, I explained about the importance of your profile photograph and how to get it just right. In this blog, we’re exploring LinkedIn as we celebrate its 15th birthday.
Using LinkedIn to grow your business
We’ve talked previously about understanding your strategy and your approach on LinkedIn and what you’re trying to do. A lot of people tend to have very fluffy ideas, once that’s crystallised; once you have a clear idea of what you’re driving towards then actually growing your business on LinkedIn is a relatively simple approach to take. It’s just replicating what you do face-to-face. So, what we encourage, is to think about several stages to the project.
The perfect profile
The first thing is to make sure that you have an absolutely engaging up-to-date and effective profile. The reason for that is: as soon as you start engaging anybody else on LinkedIn, the first thing that they will do is look at your profile, and, if your profile is not right; if it’s out-of-date; if it’s incomplete and if it’s written in completely the wrong way, that doesn’t help engage or start any kind of relationship. Take, for example, if you don’t have a photograph on your profile, that’s the equivalent of going to a networking event with a paper bag on your head and choosing not to engage with people. So, what we say is, make sure you look approachable, so you are more of a magnet – where you want to draw in people – and that becomes a powerful tool.
Your target audience
The next stage is to understand your target audience, and that’s why we talk very much about aligning your sales and marketing strategy. If you understand who a perfect customer is, and if you have a specific list to go after and follow people, that’s even better. Or, if you have a marketplace or a job title then what you need to do is:
- start engaging and focussing on building relationships with those key groups and with individuals within those organisations;
- follow their company page;
- start interacting in groups that are useful to a particular market segment;
- start sending connection requests and building your network in that way;
- start sharing information that the group of people, organisations, companies or individuals would find useful.
What we find is, the more you add value to your network, the more that your network starts to really value you. Once your network starts to value you, your contacts start to have more open conversations with you and we know from a business development perspective and from a sales perspective those conversations are where a sale starts. Building that relationship and building the trust piece, this allows us then to perhaps extend this relationship on LinkedIn to say, “can we met for a coffee, can we understand more about what you do as an organisation?” Notice the phrase in there, it’s not about can we come and pitch what we’re great at? It’s can we come and find out more about you and your organisation, what you’re trying to achieve and then perhaps you might want to explain a little about what you do.
So, understanding that process of building a profile so it looks right; engaging in your network; building trust; building relationships and then extending that to face-to-face meetings, phone calls; Skype or whatever works best for you, whatever it might be. Understanding that 3-stage process and following those steps in that order will allow you to build business, find new opportunities and ultimately develop sales via LinkedIn.
In my next blog ‘How to complete your LinkedIn profile‘, I explain the importance of having a professional headline, recognising how you add value to your customers and providing an eye-catching summary.
Why not take a look at our free resource, ‘How to build your perfect LinkedIn profile, click on the link below.
Image courtesy of Pixabay