You didn’t think your social selling efforts started and stopped on Twitter, did you? LinkedIn is the most professional of all the social networks and naturally lends itself to connecting with colleagues. It helps people find new jobs, learn more about companies and their employees, and expand their professional reach. However, this network is also one of the best channels for social selling and prospecting.
Why LinkedIn, specifically? This social network is so robust because it appeals to every industry and makes sourcing new prospects nearly guaranteed. In short, everyone from every industry is on here. So you better be, too. And if you want to find and connect with the best prospects, you need to leverage your profile and the site’s search function to the best of your ability.
There are a few things you need to do before you start social selling on LinkedIn:
– Build a great profile. Make sure you input detailed information for every section including your work experience, education, skills, and interests. Include a current, professional photo, a headline that really captures
– Add everyone you know professionally. You can import your address book and connect other social media sites to LinkedIn to streamline this process. Also, browse through the list of recommended connections to quickly expand your network.
– Join relevant groups to your industry. You can join up to 50, so be selective, but don’t be afraid to dive into a group that’s filled with like-minded people who actively communicate. That’s the key here: active groups are much more likely to produce prospects than ones where people only post once a month. Group size doesn’t matter all that much, so long as members stay on topic are are really into the subject at hand. Feel free to share your content with the group sparingly. Establish yourself as an expert? Yes. Spam the group? No!
Once you’ve done these things, then–and only then–should you start your social prospecting endeavors
There’s a feature on LinkedIn called “Get Introduced” that allows you to request an introduction from one of your connections to someone in your 2nd or 3rd degree network. You can select which of your shared connections you would like to introduce you and write a personal message with your request. While you shouldn’t use this all the time, it’s a good way to reach out to someone whom you feel is a really worthwhile prospect and get the social selling process rolling.
Contact Fellow Group Members via InMail
InMail allows you to send messages to anyone, whether there’s a connection or not. However, you have to sign up for a paid premium plan and the number of InMail messages you can send is limited based on which plan you choose. As you engage in discussions in relevant industry groups, you may find the need to directly message a prospect. Now, it’s important to avoid being sales-y in these messages. You’ll not only be annoying, you’ll also appear spammy, which is not an image you want to give off. According to Social Media Examiner, you should always aim to be conversational. The article adds that it’s okay to let someone know about “a free webinar or download,” but it’s probably not a good idea to make a pitch to encourage someone to “buy your stuff.” InMail isn’t the place for that kind of sales effort.
Digging Into Advanced Search for Social Prospects
The key to making the most use of LinkedIn for social selling is to search for and connect with the most relevant people possible. This requires using the people search feature within LinkedIn. Search for keywords related to your industry or business. You may wish to narrow your results to a specific location or to specific job titles. If it’s in the budget, consider upgrading to LinkedIn Premium so you can use more robust search filters like interests, seniority, and company size.
Engage Prospects with Questions
LinkedIn has a feature a lot of people don’t know about: LinkedIn Answers. This gives people a place to connect by asking insightful questions and providing helpful answers. You can participate on both sides. Pose interesting questions to industry thought-leaders and answer questions you feel display your area of expertise and act as a natural platform for entry into your sales funnel.
A lot of people have a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea of finding prospects and social selling on LinkedIn, or any other social network for that matter, but really it’s pretty straightforward. Instead of focusing so much on the hard sell, emphasize what you can provide to your potential customers by means of information, content, and engagement. Once you’ve captured their attention, you can build a conversation and a relationship–and if that doesn’t look like a prospect, we don’t know what does.
Download our Social Selling Study Results to learn more about how sales teams are utilizing social media to find and convert more leads.