Though many use LinkedIn to connect with colleagues, old varsity friends, industry contacts and prospective recruits, the real power of LinkedIn lies in its ability to help you connect with existing and potential clients in order to generate more business. In this article, I will focus on a few basic steps to use LinkedIn as an effective lead generation tool.
• Set up your profile to optimise connections
You need to make sure your profile is optimised to attract network connections. This can be achieved through a professional profile picture and by creating a tagline or title that draws attention. A good profile positions you as an expert. Your LinkedIn profile must support your expert status through carefully written headlines and keywords to clarify your expertise and specific skills. It should be complete and easy to skim and understand.
• Make connections
LinkedIn is much more than a platform to connect with friends, acquaintances and colleagues. You need to connect with new contacts with the aim of generating new business. Find key connections by searching their names and hitting the “Connect’ button. Whether you have met or not, send them a personalised message wishing to connect, rather than the default message that LinkedIn sends: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” You basically have two sentences or so to come across as a professional and explain why you want to connect with someone. Here’s what a good basic template looks like: Hi (name), I came across your profile on LinkedIn and thought we might both benefit from connecting with each other. If you’re open to it, I’d like to connect. Thanks, (your name). When you combine a professional profile with an engaging connection message, you can increase your connection rate by between 40-60%. If there’s someone that you want to connect with but haven’t met personally, see if you have any connections in common. Ask your connection to introduce you. If want to make it easy on them, you could even draft a message for your connection to use.
• Send Messages
Once you have connected with key contacts, it is important to send them relevant messages in order to build a trust relationship and strengthen your credibility. There are three types of messages you can send to current and potential contacts: 1) The follow-up message – it is beneficial to send a follow up message shortly after you have connected for the first time. Thank them for connecting and invite them to join your group, should you have one (or do this in a message later on), 2) The resource suggestion – Send them an article or resource that would be useful for them and 3) The discussion suggestion – Let them know about a particularly interesting discussion point, and invite them to join in a discussion group. Carefully crafted messages can help you engage with contacts better and give you a better chance to generate enquiries and leads.
• Engage in groups
By engaging in relevant LinkedIn groups, you can help build your network and generate leads. There are two ways to use groups to generate leads: Connect with targeted groups or create your own groups. LinkedIn offers such a vast number of groups. There are most probably at least a few that cater to a high concentration of your potential clients. Use the group search function to locate relevant groups and spend time getting to know the flow of topics and comments discussed there. If you see potential opportunities, begin to participate in the group, just as you would at a networking event – share your, and your firms’, content and expertise. There are various creative methods to engage with targeted groups: Ask questions to start discussions relevant to your audience and post relevant content by sharing a healthy mix of your firm’s content as well as external content. Make an effort to comment on other conversations and offer your expert opinion or experience. You can also create groups that focuses on relevant topics and invite the right contacts (i.e. potential leads) to join these groups. Be a helpful source of information and you will establish relationships with potential clients, referral sources and marketing partners — just as you would in the real world.
• Get off LinkedIn
LinkedIn can help you get your “foot in the door” when targeting potential clients and generating leads. To generate sales and forge profitable business relationships, you need to move beyond the digital connection. Scheduling a face-to-face meeting, sales call or invitation to a webinar, seminar or training session, can help you convert a contact into a client.
For more information contact Tobie van der Merwe at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.