Cold Calling Is Out. Warm Calling Is In.
As the old saying goes, “everyone’s in sales.” Now there’s a new reality: Everyone’s in marketing, too.
This is especially true for B2B sales professionals, who need to develop a strong social brand, understand the importance of sharing quality content, and communicate the right message to position themselves as a trusted advisor for their connections. Always thinking like a marketer helps turn prospects into clients, and makes social networks like LinkedIn your most powerful marketing and brand-building tool.
If you’re not using LinkedIn as part of your sales strategy, you’re giving dollars away to your competitors.
LinkedIn is the new business card. Earlier this year, LinkedIn surpassed 225 million members representing more than 200 countries and 19 languages. The network currently grows at a rate of 172,800 new registrations a day, or approximately 2 new users per second.
To see the power of LinkedIn, just Google a business associate and their company. Chances are, the first result is the person’s LinkedIn profile.
The 5 Steps
Being on LinkedIn isn’t enough, you need to know how to use it and how to stand out from the crowd. LinkedIn is not simply a rolodex. If used correctly, LinkedIn allows you to make valuable connections that ultimately generate serious business.
1. Create a Profile That Makes Your CMO Cheer – A Checklist
A LinkedIn profile is a first impression, a multi-faceted business card that demonstrates your skills and professionalism. It is important to highlight your individual achievements and expertise. It’s equally important to recognize that you and your colleagues are the greatest asset and the collective face of your brand. By following the guidelines your company establishes, you will develop a consistent brand identity on LinkedIn that provides a solid foundation for your lead generation efforts, while at the same time adding value to their individual professional profiles.
Follow this checklist to create your best LinkedIn profile:
- Include a professional profile picture
- Create a headline with keywords relevant to your experience
- Write a summary of at least 75 words that provides a snapshot of your expertise (your elevator pitch)
- Include previous employment and descriptions of your accomplishments and duties
- Add skills to your profile
- Customize your public URL
- Provide a link to your business website
- Make connections with relevant professionals in your industry
- Share updates
- Ask for recommendations
2. Keep Your Connections Relevant
It is a common misunderstanding that in social networking or social business, the more people you are connected with the better. Not always. While it is important to have an engaged audience, it is more important for that audience to be relevant to you. Connecting with current customers is a no-brainer, and connecting with prospects opens up new business opportunities.
PeopleLinx developed the KVN Framework, a set of criteria to help guide clients in determining whether or not to accept incoming requests, send outbound requests, as well as clean up the connections they already have.
- KNOW: Do I know and trust this connection?
- VOUCH: Would I feel comfortable vouching for this connection?
- NETWORK: is it likely this connection can help make an introduction to someone else in their network? Can I help them?
“The key to social networking isn’t about volume…it is really about engagement and the quality of the interaction.”
Paul Hatch, former Vice Chairman, Morgan Stanley
If you implement the KVN Framework to your LinkedIn, you are sure to increase the value, strength, and warmth of your network drastically.At a Roundtable hosted by PeopleLinx last May, Paul Hatch, Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, addressed this topic by stating, “The key to social networking isn’t about volume… it is really about engagement and the quality of the interaction.”
3. Feed Your Networks
“Nobody has enough content. Social channels are like puppies. If you do not feed them, they die.”
Maggie Fox, Founder & CEO, Social Media Group
Once you have a network of relevant connections, the next step is to engage them. Maggie Fox, Founder & CEO, Social Media Group, shared “Nobody has enough content. Social channels are like puppies. If you do not feed them, they die”. In order to engage your audience, you need to provide content that adds value. If your company hosts webinars, events, has a new white paper or publicity to share this content on LinkedIn. You can even share third-party content that you find interesting and relevant to your network. Engaging your network and attracts more eyeballs to your profile, which in turn draws attention to your company.
Pay attention to who has viewed your profile during these times. They are checking you out, so they may be interested in doing business with you.
Timing matters. According to recent research from HubSpot, The best times to share content through LinkedIn is between 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. Peak traffic times happen on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Avoid posting between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., especially on Mondays and Fridays. Experiment with a range of times to determine what works best for your audience.
Measurement is key; it’s the only way you’ll know if your efforts are worthwhile. Track elements like clicks, likes, and shares to develop an understanding of the types of content that garner the most traffic.
4. Join Groups and Join the Conversation
With nearly 2 million groups on LinkedIn, there are bound to be a number that fit your professional and personal interests. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups, as well as additional subgroups.
- Expand Your Network: Industry specific groups and Alumni groups can have up to 20,000+ members, allowing you to vastly extend your network and reach within a community that shares your interests and background.
- Learn from the Experts: Within a group, you have the ability to listen to other group members’ unique industry insights and learn from their knowledge.
- Showcase Your Own Expertise: You can become a thought leader of your own by introducing discussion topics, creating polls, and sharing interesting and relevant content that speaks directly to that group.
- Drive Business Opportunities: Check out your fellow group members. This is an additional way to forge valuable connections that could generate potential business partnerships and opportunities for you and your company.
- Send Messages to Group Members: LinkedIn even allows you to send group members direct InMail messages since you are a part of the same community, even if you aren’t first-degree connections.
Be mindful about reaching out to people and for what purpose, you don’t want to make the wrong impression on your fellow group members. Approach people with valuable conversations or opportunities, not with spam-like sales offers.
5. Know Your Prospects
When interacting with prospects or customers, context is everything. Most lead sources provide only the most basic contact and demographic information. LinkedIn tells you exactly who you’re dealing with – what they do, where they’ve been, event their alma mater. Best of all, you can see who you know in common. Research that context before you pick up the phone (and expect that others will do the same to you).
Business has become social, which means that everyone is now in marketing. LinkedIn has emerged as the 800-pound gorilla in the social business space, making it essential that you evaluate your marketability, the strength of your network, and how you engage your connections – or risk getting left behind or outcompeted. Use the strategies outlined here to get started.