In an odd coincidence, twice in the past week, I had conversations with industry colleagues who were skeptical of the value of LinkedIn as a marketing tool. One of them thought it was just a place to look for a job. The other one asked me, “So, what’s the value of being on LinkedIn?”
No, these were not 80-year-olds who had never touched a computer… but in 2015, when social media is so pervasive in our [business] lives, you’d have thought these two professionals – partners in their respective firms – would have had a better understanding of the platform and its value. So it got me to thinking… how many others out there think the same way? Which lead me to writing this article…
By the way, I am not a paying “power user” of LinkedIn. Like most of you, I use the free version. However, I am VERY active on it… and the value of it as a marketing channel has proven itself over and over.
First, let’s review some of the key ‘tactical’ things you can do inside of LinkedIn:
- Provide a comprehensive profile of yourself
- Post links to resources/articles/etc. from your profile
- Publish “long form posts” to your profile
- Provide access on your profile to your other published materials (e.g. books, PPTs, etc.)
- Share testimonials about you and your firm
- Provide a profile of your firm
- Post links to resources/articles/etc. on your firm’s profile
- Join up to 50 LinkedIn groups
- Post links to resources/articles/etc. in those groups
- Start and/or participate in threaded conversations in those groups
- Connect with other professionals
- Communicate directly with those other professionals (individually or in bulk)
- Ask for referrals… to the connections of your connections
Important note: What’s interesting to me about LinkedIn is that – while very much a tactical tool – an active user can effectively support four different and critical go-to-market strategies that are part of the Buying-Selling process:
- Positioning your firm in the marketplace
- Building awareness across your target markets
- Generating sales leads
- Nurturing those leads until they are ready to buy
Positioning. Who you are… your areas of expertise… what differentiates you from others. And it’s “thought leadership” that can help you to define all of these things… specifically the sharing of those brilliant thoughts. And LinkedIn provides an easy and effective vehicle for doing that, in several ways.
Every post you make is a demonstration of your thought leadership (so make ‘em good). Every long form post that you write and publish to your profile delivers on it. All of those other books, PowerPoint presentations and eBooks that you provide access to further showcase it. And all of that provides “proof positive” of your areas of expertise and how your firm is positioned in the market.
Beyond that, participating in those threaded conversations inside of targeted LinkedIn groups is another way to showcase your expertise, based on the way you answer the posted questions and engage with other group members. So don’t sell… help.
Awareness. First of all, just having a completed profile is a start. You’ll even show up in Google searches when you do it right.
But more than that, every post you make, every long-form post you publish on your profile, every change and update you make to your profile is shared with everyone you’re connected to… building and maintaining awareness of you and your firm in the marketplace.
Further, each conversation you participate in is seen by all the members of that group. And if your posts and other published materials have value, they will be shared by your connections, further expanding the reach of your awareness in the markets you serve.
Lead generation. Finding new qualified names to put into the “top of the sales funnel.”
The most obvious “lead gen” opportunity here is connecting with other professionals that work for the kinds of businesses and in the industries you target. Though it should never be used as a hard sales tool, connecting with someone opens the door to on-going communication, the sharing of information and the opportunity to perhaps move toward a real buyer-seller relationship.
Beyond that, smart communication with your connections can be used to drive them back to your website (always a good thing) to read a new article, for example, or to download a new eBook or register for a webinar (capturing their contact info and generating a legit sales lead, at that point).
Lastly, LinkedIn is about business connections. When you search for a particular person (with whom you are not connected)… it will show you which of your current connections link you two together. You can then ask your connection for an introduction (a referral)… opening the door to communication.
Lead nurturing. The selling-buying process does not happen quickly in our industry. The key to success is the effective nurturing of those leads (your LinkedIn connections)… staying top of mind (in the right way) so that they think of you when they are ready to buy.
The regular and frequent posts you make… your regular and frequent participation in the threaded conversations in the LI groups… are easy and smart ways to achieve that top-of-mind status. Did catch the theme? “Regular and frequent” is what makes this work. You use of the LinkedIn platform and your engagement with the LinkedIn community cannot be an occasional effort… to provide value, it MUST be regular and frequent.
So, to my two colleagues for whom I wrote this article… there are LOTS of reasons to be involved in LinkedIn. But, like most other things in marketing… it’s simple, but it ain’t easy! It requires work. Not a ton of it… but a little bit every day (posting, connecting, participating) to gain real value from the platform. Good luck.
Want to connect on LinkedIn? Reach out to me at www.linkedin.com/in/harpethmarketing