LinkedIn is probably the most powerful social media platform for marketing and selling to small business owners. Just like twitter, all you really need is time and expertise to generate leads using LinkedIn. I always have to start any post about LinkedIn with a book recommendation for “The Power in a Link” which is, in my opinion the best book on LinkedIn.
Here are the 5 steps to success on LinkedIn, follow these steps and you will be generating new small business leads each and every week from your LinkedIn profile.
1. Create your own COMPLETE LinkedIn profile Make sure you have a good picture on your profIle. LinkedIn prefers an individual face shot of you. Take some time to think about your summary and how to position your previous work experience. An investment of several hours will create a great LinkedIn profile that will act as your online resume for potential clients. It is vital before you start working to generate LinkedIn leads that you optimize your profile for small business owners. In other words, think of how you can turn each work experience into something relevant in your quest to serve small business owners and adjust your profile accordingly.
2. Use your LinkedIn profile to mirror your real life network. Many people have a goal on LinkedIn of connecting with everyone and anyone who is willing to connect with them. The goal is not to connect with a bunch of people like it is on twitter, facebook or YouTube. Rather, the goal on LinkedIn is to map and utilize your real life relationships and connections. As we move on to step number 3, you will understand why this is so vital. Start by sending an email to real life professional connections you have, even if it is only a few, that is fine. It is better to start with 10 real connections than 100 random people.
3. Use the advanced people search to find 1st and 2nd degree connections. A 2nd degree connection means that this person is a connection of someone you are connected to on LinkedIn. Next to the search bar at the top, you can click “Advanced People Search.” For my search, I looked for people with the title of “Owner,” “President” or “CEO” within 25 miles of my location that are either a 1st or 2nd degree connection. If you have only connected with people that you actually know well, that means you are 1 phone call away from a warm introduction to each of these people and you know who to call. The reason it is so important that you only connect with real life connections when trying to sell small business owners is that this search will be meaningless without real connections. Knowing the name of a second degree connection is worthless if your first degree connection isn’t someone you actually know and have a relationship with, who will give you a good reference or introduction.
4. Invite every business owner that you sell or meet to join LinkedIn. Send them an email invitation to connect through LinkedIn. If they already use LinkedIn, you will gain access to all of their first degree connections! Even if they are not on LinkedIn but your email cuases them to create a profile, they will likely add at least 3 or 4 connections that could be good prospects for you. This is the fastest, most efficient way to get references and referrals and you don’t even have to ask for them, just send an email invite to each business owner you service and sell them on the power of LinkedIn. Once they join and connect with you, you will be able to see all of their 1st degree connections.
5. Go make some sales! There are two ways you can use LinkedIn to make sales: First, you can make a list of all the second degree connections from your clients and go visit them. With this strategy you simply walk in and say, “Hi, My name is ______ and I am connected with Bob at XYZ Company on LinkedIn because I provide ABC Services to him. I noticed that you were also connected with Bob, how do you know each other?” From this conversation you haven’t said that Bob recommended you but, you did imply that he is happy with your service, since he did connect with you on LinkedIn and this is a great way to start a conversation that will lead to a sale (Obviously only mention connections who are happy with your service). The second way to use your LinkedIn profile to generate sales is on larger accounts. Let’s say you walk into a business and an employee will not let you speak to the business owner but, you get the owners name. Go to the people search and see if that person is on LinkedIn, if so, is he connected to one of your connections? If he is, call up that connection or stop by and say, “Hey Bob, I was trying to get a meeting with Bill over at XYZ Company and I saw that you two are connected on LinkedIn, I was just curious how well you know Bill and if you thought our service might be a good fit for him?” I hope these 5 steps to success in selling small business owners using LinkedIn was a help to you! Here is one final tip I thought you might like…