I’ve been a user and fan of LinkedIn for several years and am currently enjoying reading The Startup of You by LinkedIn co-Founder Reid Hoffman. Although it has its detractors and plenty of room for improvement, LinkedIn has become perhaps the most widely used business tool since email itself.
And yet even if it’s used, how many of us use it correctly, or to its full potential? Many people set up a profile, connect with some friends, and then leave it at that. Another class of LinkedIn users are much more active, but perhaps too active, spamming their connections and LinkedIn groups with get-rich-quick schemes or articles, the posting of which is designed more to bring attention to the one doing the posting than to provide any true value to LinkedIn users.
Recently I met Alex Pirouz, a successful entrepreneur and author. In talking with Alex I learned he was featured in the book Getting Your Business LinkedIn, so I asked him to give me his top three LinkedIn tips. Here they are, in Alex’s own words:
Hire a full-time prospector How much time do you, or your team, waste prospecting and uncovering prospects that never turn into clients? How much time has your organization spent prospecting over the last 90 days?
B2B Marketers know that LinkedIn is a gold mine of potential to create relationships, manage customers, and stay in touch with colleagues. But have you ever considered LinkedIn as a prospecting tool? Learn 5 ways to create new prospects, right in LinkedIn.
1. LinkedIn Answers
Take a look at your 1st level connections that you’d like to develop more, and see if there is a common thread that occurs in their recent activity. Write a LinkedIn Answers question on their challenges, frustrations and roadblocks and invite these connections to respond. Likewise, you should be answering other peoples questions, while mining the connections on your LinkedIn Answers, and Groups.
2. LinkedIn Groups
As mentioned in a previous post, LinkedIn Groups are a great place to see and be seen. It is an opportunity to ask questions, respond to others, and create relationships. Be careful not to get too salesy in your questions or responses. You want to add thought leadership, insight and value to the conversation. If someone is impressed enough with your response or even your question, they can peruse your profile to learn more about your company. Create groups around clusters of people with whom you can relate, add value, and gain trust in order to develop those relationships into prospects. The added bonus of a Group is that you can email members directly on a weekly basis.
Take a look at your 1st degree connections’ connections. Does anyone look like a potential prospect to you? If you have a great rapport with your 1st level connection, ask them for an introduction to their 1st degree connection (and hence, your 2nd degree connection). Be smart about these requests, and enlighten your connection on how this introduction may be beneficial not only to their connection, but to your connection as well.
Look through your updates for anyone your connections might have recommended recently. The person recommended is in the limelight, so why not share the love? Strike while the iron is hot and ask for an introduction to this newly recommended connection.
Say you want to get to the decision maker at a company, but aren’t sure how to get there. Take a look at the company profile and search through the employees. Are you a 1st degree connection with someone there? Can they expand your connections with introduction to other employees in the program? While these people may not be the decision maker, they can be your advocate giving you important company information and insight.
A word of caution: be smart in how you use LinkedIn to prospect. Overdoing blind connection requests or pestering someone with too many introduction requests can work against you in this social media outlet. As my mother always said– and I think this can apply to LinkedIn behavior — treat others as you would have them treat you.
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