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March 21, 2016

How to Use LinkedIn for Sales and Lead Generation

Have you ever noticed every professional sales person you know is on LinkedIn?  Why is it that they spend a considerable amount of time every week messaging prospects and growing their connections?  Is your LinkedIn network less than 500 connections? Do you want to take full advantage of LinkedIn features so that you make more appointment and close more sales? Are you ready to do what it takes to be a successful LinkedIn Professional Networker? In this article, we will explore 15 different ways you can make more appointments, grow your connections and close more sales? The only real question left is whether you are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success. So if you’re curious about what it takes to more appointments growing your LinkedIn connections and make more sales and then read on and learn, ‘How to use LinkedIn for Sales.’

When it all Started 

Back in 2005, when I started using the network, I had no idea what would work on LinkedIn, let alone what the rules were, or whether LinkedIn was going to be a useful tool and network for me. I was very active in word of mouth marketing. I was a member of several Chamber of Commerce councils, a BNI director and was active in several other networking groups. At that time, there was a lot of controversy where people were trying to decide if online networking was as valuable as face-to-face networking. It’s my opinion that online networking is a great adjunct to face-to-face word of mouth marketing. It can enhance and extend the relationships that business people can build through networking.

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Leveraging Trust is What Makes it Work 

I quickly learned LinkedIn was primarily populated with business people. Because of this, you could leverage a trusting relationship you had built with another person to get an introduction to someone you wanted to meet. I also noticed that LinkedIn worked with many of the other networks, including Twitter and Facebook, and that post could be shared between these networks. LinkedIn also took advantage of features like hashtags, the ability to the search entire subscribers’ networks for prospects and the ability to narrow my search by entering any of a couple of dozen industry attributes, including industry, annual sales, position and locations, just to name a few.

It Keeps Getting Better 

The many benefits haven’t changed much over the years; in fact, many have gotten better. If you want to learn about specific LinkedIn features read: LinkedIn Techniques for Growing your Business and other article listed at the end. Needless to say, LinkedIn remains one of the largest social platforms dedicated to the business user. It contains more than 414,000,000 subscribers, and remains the best social network to look for B2B and B2C prospects.

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Business People Expect Professionalism 

Looking good on LinkedIn is vital. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete, up to date and screen professionally for good grammar, spelling and relevant content about your professional career. Without a clean and professional looking profile, you won’t get to second base with anyone.

Now let’s get down to brass tacks

To get more sales through LinkedIn, you will have to build your credibility and organic connections to succeed. Are you looking to differentiate yourself from every other sales rep trying to hustle more appointment? Just reading these 15 techniques will not guarantee success. You must put them into action every day of your sales week. So, let’s get started with the items that make you stand out from the pack and help build your credibility as an expert in your field.

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1 . Publish authoritative original content that adds value to your LinkedIn connections’ lives.

By writing your own content via blogs, articles or unique posts, you prove your added value, differentiating yourself from others. I love using Blogger for my post, but don’t forget to use LinkedIn’s own publishing platform – Pulse!  Pulse is read by a lot of influential people. If you can add value by showing you’re your expertise, while teaching others via your own content, you show the LinkedIn world you have real value. This attracts more LinkedIn connections like a magnet.  It also makes for a great introduction to that high profile prospect you’re trying to get in front of. There is no substitute for providing unique, qualitative and authoritative content to build your credibility and get your foot in the door. These articles also become instruments that you can send to people to introduce yourself and to ask for their opinion about your article.

2. Provide useful, curated content that business people want, find useful or are interested in.

Social networks revolve around followers interests and LinkedIn is no exception. Followers only care about what you’re interested in if it matches their interest.  Do not post lots hard sell ads or commercials.  This will only scare away potential connections and leave you with bot accounts, recruiters or other LinkedIn subscribers who want to sell you something.  Provide useful content that people in your industry are looking for and need. Curate the best content you can find and people will follow you.

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3. Ask for referral connections instead of referrals.

I learned about a great way to make a connection on LinkedIn from a friend of mine named Tom Groom. Before visiting a new prospect, research them on LinkedIn and see who they are connected to. When it comes time to asking for a referral, ask for a LinkedIn connection instead. Tell your prospect that you noticed that they are connected to other prospective your looking to meet. Ask them to connect you to three potential prospects they know. You will find that it is much easier for them to connect you with these prospects via LinkedIn, than it is to ask them to make an introduction some other way, (like asking them to call the prospect on the phone)! This will provide more leads and open more doors.

4 . Invite other LinkedIn connections to follow you back every day.

You need to be consistent with invitations. Inviting goes beyond just following people, it also includes engaging them with positive messages, answering their messages, and so on.  If you follow 15 people a day, every day, and only three follow back, you will have grown your network by 1,095 new connections that year.  There are limits to who and how you invite people to connect with. Make sure you utilize your current connection by asking them to introduce you to others. Also, don’t forget to be selective. You don’t need to connect with everybody. Avoid those who look suspicious or are not in your contact sphere. People who don’t have a complete profile, are totally self-promoting, not in your territory or maybe don’t speak your language. Understand that this is a process and you need to stay committed to daily inviting and useful growth.

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5. Thank everyone who follows you or writes to you.

Be gracious: Always say thank you for connecting.  You might also give away a free eBook as a goodwill gesture, or ask them to read your best article that they might be interested in. You will be surprised how effective a good thank you message is. Just saying “Thanks for connecting, I appreciate you, connect with me, on my other networks as well”, will go a long way towards building a trusting relationship. Also along these lines congratulate people on their promotions, work anniversaries and other significant events, especially the ones they post.

6. Invite people to follow you on LinkedIn by inviting your connections to your other social networks.

A good way to garner new followers is to ask your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube followers to connect with you.  If you’re already active on other social networks, make sure you cross-pollinate them.  Not everyone will connect with you because some people just like a specific social network, but there will be many who will.  Make sure you let people know your LinkedIn profile address when posting to your other social networks.  And make sure you add your LinkedIn profile address to your other social networks about me page.  Along these same lines, make sure all your web properties have your LinkedIn account listed so that those who like to use LinkedIn will click on and “connect with you” when they visit.

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7. Do a mailing to your current customer base asking them to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Send e-mails to all of the customers on your database inviting them to follow you on LinkedIn. This also holds true for snail mail as well.  This tip is amplified if you follow up with a call, another email or a postcard.  If you also provide an incentive to connect with you in your mail piece, like a special discount coupon, free e-book or other compelling incentive, you will also increase the number of new connections you will create.

8. Ask customer to connect with you on LinkedIn when they visit your store or when you are visiting them during a sales call.

Have signs in your store asking people to follow you on Twitter.  Put a sign by the checkout counter, put it on the signage of your carry out bags, business cards, letterhead and on your shopping windows.  You can even create a QR code so that mobile users can jump right to your page and follow you right then and there.

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9. Upload your contacts list into LinkedIn’s inviting system.

Although this normally occurs the first time you setup your LinkedIn account, it’s also available after your account has been set up.  If you use Gmail, Yahoo mail, AOL or Outlook, you can upload your contact list and LinkedIn will invite those who are already subscribers to LinkedIn to follow you.  This function is available by clicking on “My Networks” link, followed by clicking on “Add Contacts” drop down link on the Navigation Bar of your page. Once there you can have LinkedIn Rifle through the contact list you may have and it will invite these people to join LinkedIn if they are not members and to connect with you as well.

10. Ask your best customers to invite their friends and family to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Ask your best customers for their help.  If they have LinkedIn connections or on other social networks, ask them to promote your LinkedIn account.  This is tantamount to receiving a referral and testimonial all in one.

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11. Use promotional directories to grow.

Promotional directories such as Kloutthumbtack,referral keyTwiendsMerchant CircleAngieslist, or Home Advisor are great for finding connections.  This is my short list of promotional directories. There are dozens more out there that you can use as well.  Using promotional directories can help you connect with people and business that have the same interest as you, or better yet are looking for you!  They also provide management tools and promotional opportunity to help showcase your account.  Even though some of these directories are primarily for other social networks, you can still use them to grow your LinkedIn or other network account by promotion that account in that directory. Again, if a person like Twitter, Facebook or other social net, they are also likely to want to connect with you on LinkedIn. The same is true if they find you in one of the hundreds of promotional directories on the web.  Over time, this can make a real impact on your overall growth of your LinkedIn account.

12. Use Pay Per Click promotions on LinkedIn to generate connections and to promote your profile and article post.

This will aid you in targeting connections and get people to tag your article post as favorites. It will also get influencers and key connections (like people who are highly connected with those you want to connect to) to follow you. This will cost you money, but for some it’s well worth it. Just make sure your ROI is no more than your daily budget allows.

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13. Use Pay per click on other social sites to grow as well.

Use other social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube to grow your connections and promote your services. Paying to grow your connections can be cost effective. Especially when you consider, it usually captures the interested parties contact information.  Just make sure you’re targeting the right group of prospects and that whichever platform you use, you stick to your budget. Understand this is different than buying follower.  Social nets frown on and disallow buying connections.  On top of that, there is no value to growing your connections by purchasing them. Most of the companies that sell followers are not providing targeted followers.  Most, if not all are selling bots, fake or serial accounts.  Buying connections can also get you suspended.

14. Join various groups in LinkedIn and other social network communities and encourage people to connect to you on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has groups you can join, as does Facebook and Google+. If you don’t have a lot of connections, joining a group makes a lot of sense. When you join a group you have access to all the people in that group. A group can contain thousands of accounts and you can connect with them by just posting a message. What kind of message you ask? This is a great place to promote your authoritative content and providing great content always promotes more connections. It’s also a great place to find those targeted prospects. This lets you message them directly, but remember, build a relationship first before you start pitching them. Coming on strong without building a trusting relationship is a quick way to scare them away or even get suspended.

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15. Use aggregation software to leverage your efforts with all social media connections.

Doing so will save time and increase your productivity.  Use online applications such as Hootsuite, Buffer or Tweak Deck to provide scheduled post, RSS feeds of your favorite blogs and other e-zines. This is a great way to curate and schedule post.  These types of applications will help you manage your social media marketing process in a more efficient and smoother way.  They will let you do more in much less time, and this helps you grow your connections in all of your social nets simultaneously.

By following these tips on a daily basis, you will grow LinkedIn connection significantly in the next year. More importantly, you will increase your number of leads, appointments and closed sales significantly as well.  I have been able to grow my LinkedIn account using these very same techniques and I know it will work for you as well.  Following these techniques consistently will grow your contact list to large numbers. This will not be an instant process, but using these techniques day in and day out will bring progress and create a LinkedIn network that will significantly impact your income. You know what they say, the money is in the list.


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Hector Cisneros is the president and COO for W Squared Media Group LLC. A digital Marketing Agency in the N.E. Florida Area. He is also the co-host of the BlogTalkRadio Show Working The Web To Win. W Squared Media also does Business as Working The Web To Win online and in Florida.

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