With over 774 million members from more than 200 countries around the world, LinkedIn is the 800-pound professional networking gorilla. Given the potential reach, it can be tempting for you or your company to use LinkedIn as a platform for marketing and selling your products and services.
But LinkedIn is really about building connections that have value to yourself and to the people you’re connected with. The right approach to LinkedIn is using it as a platform for building a high degree of trust and engaging with connections with useful content. Not only will your network appreciate learning from you, but these genuine connections are what allow business opportunities to arise naturally.
A Two-Part Formula to Properly Leverage LinkedIn for Sales
I have a two-part formula for successfully using LinkedIn — and while it is a simple formula to understand, that does not mean it’s a simple formula to implement.
- You want to have a complete and inviting LinkedIn profile, whether that’s your personal profile and/or company page profile.
- You need to engage in regular and consistent activity utilizing the LinkedIn platform.
The Essentials of a LinkedIn Profile
There are a lot of pieces and parts to your LinkedIn profile, but some are more important than others. Your profile image and headline are two of the most important pieces of your profile’s information — they represent you as you travel around LinkedIn. Whether you’re sharing a post or commenting on someone else’s, your profile picture and headline become your billboard for any activity you do on LinkedIn.
Pro tip: LinkedIn requires that you use an updated headshot for your profile, but I also recommend setting your profile picture visibility to “public” or “all LinkedIn members.” The combination of an updated headshot and image visibility allows potential connections to confirm your identity.
How to Stay Actively Engaged on LinkedIn
Unfortunately many people in business think that the first thing they need to tell you about is their products and services, why you should buy them, and why you should engage them. And while it can be daunting to come up with original content consistently, I’d actually advise against creating your own content a majority of the time. I’ve found that a 60/40 split between the content you find in other places on the web or that’s shared from other people and content about you, your business, and your personal interests is the sweet spot. Here are a few ways ideas for engaging on LinkedIn:
Sharing Content that Your Connections Have Posted
The share button at the bottom right corner of each post allows you to reproduce this post and share it in your newsfeed. When you share someone else’s posts, it’ll start showing up in the newsfeed of people that you’re directly connected with.
Commenting on or Liking a Post
You’ll expand your visibility even further if any of your connections comment or share what you’ve posted. The activity will show up in your connections’ feeds and your name will also get exposed to the author’s connections, giving you a little bit of activity credit around the platform.
Linking to Interesting Content You Found on the Web
Simply sharing articles or pages from other websites is another way to engage with your network without having to create content yourself. You want to be sure that the content you are sharing is relevant to your network or something you’ve found useful for yourself.
Posting About Recent Business-Related Activity
This is your professional profile, so you should also share content about yourself and your business in a way that allows connections to get to know you. Post about your products or services, but do it in a way that reflects a little bit of your own personality. (A lot of my posts, for example, tend to be playful and show that I don’t take myself or our business too seriously.) If you are going to or attended a tradeshow or learned something new in a recent webinar, your network may be interested in hearing your experience or tips on what you learned.
Your LinkedIn Sales Strategy 2.0
Getting engaged and being active on LinkedIn doesn’t have to be time-consuming, but it does take thought to decide what’s relevant to your connections, business, and industry. Sharing helpful information and actively participating on LinkedIn is the best way to build better relationships that can lead to business opportunities.