Every day I talk to entrepreneurs who are struggling to use LinkedIn to promote themselves and their business. Their profiles look like their resume and the focus is on their past instead of the value their business provides to clients. They are unsure of what type of content to share or how to find prospects using LinkedIn. In this post, I’m going to show you how to use LinkedIn to build your brand and get more sales appointments with your prospects.

Design your profile for lead generation, not a job search

If you are an entrepreneur and your LinkedIn profile looks more like your resume and talks more about your past than your present, you are leaving leads on the table.

Reverse engineer your profile from the perspective of what your prospects are looking for. Remember you are your own brand and an expert. Your profile must convey your subject matter expertise so they feel comfortable doing business with you.

Here are some ways you can convert your LinkedIn profile from job-search mode into a massive lead-generation tool.

1) Show a branded background photo

I’m always amazed to¬†see how many people on LinkedIn either don’t have a background photo or have one that is entirely unrelated to what they do.

Many of the salespeople I work with who do have a background photo have a beautiful picture of scenery. I always tell them that it’s great if they are branding themselves as a photographer or if they’re in the photo industry.

Consider having your company’s logo and a short value pitch along with a photo that represents your company’s brand. There are several tools that can help you easily create a branded¬†background image for your LinkedIn profile. I use Canva and Adobe Spark.

2) Make your headline an attention-grabber

The common¬†mistake here is to leave it under the default setting, which shows your job title. This is boring and so 2010! It is important that you customize this highly visible real estate on your profile by talking about how you personally add value to your clients. You’re limited to¬†the number characters you can use, so keep it short but impactful.

An example for someone in inventory management software sales¬†could be, “I¬†save companies money by helping them optimize their inventory.” Look at my headling below to see how I use the space to show what value I bring and include attention-grabbing information about me that shows I am an expert in my field.

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 8.37.44 PM

3) Use a high-resolution profile picture

I’m amazed that many people still have low-quality profile pictures on LinkedIn. Your profile picture should be a high-quality, up-close picture of just you (not your pet, spouse, company logo, or some distant photo of you).

4) Deliver your value pitch in the summary

Your summary needs to focus on what you bring to the table as a solutions expert for your company. Make it less about what you’ve accomplished in the past. Your prospects won’t care if you were 160% to quota or the region’s top rep while at your last company.

Remove keywords that you may have included in your summary when you were looking for a job and wanting to be found by a recruiter, and replace them with a nice mix of keywords that your prospects could be searching for.

Last, make sure to have a call to action at the end, so your prospects know what to do next and how to reach you. You can see below in my example that I use the “ready to talk” call to action and then include my contact info right in my summary.

5) Include content that aids the buying process

You need to have at least two pieces of multi-media content displayed on your profile. They can be links to blog posts, videos, or landing pages.

Think of your profile as your personal sales presentation to prospects. Strong visual aids are a must in any sales pitch. You can attach multi-media content to your summary section and the experience section.

In my summary example below, you will see that I have included two pieces of content that provide my buyers with social proof. One is a Forbes article where I was mentioned as a branding expert, and the other one is a link to a top 100 list I made for digital marketers.

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6) Get as many recommendations as possible from your clients

One of the best sales tools on LinkedIn is the ability to get recommendations from clients and then prominently display them on your profile. LinkedIn recommendations are especially powerful because they are tied directly to people’s profiles. In other words, your prospects can click through to see that the review came from a real person in the business community.

You’ll notice in the example about that I have two recommendations right in my summary section. This way my prospects can see what others have said about me right away.

7) Throw in strong data points in your job description under your current company

For the descriptive space under your current company, don’t make the mistake of talking about what you do at the company. Instead, talk about how your solutions impact your clients. Give some data about how your products or services save companies money, improve their operations, make them more efficient, or improve their safety.

Once you set up your LinkedIn profile for lead generation, it will quickly become one of your top tools for sales. Until then, the only people you can expect to hear from on LinkedIn are recruiters, which is great if you’re looking for a job, but not so great if you have a sales quota to hit.

How to find and connect with prospects

Market segmentation can be defined as the division of a market into its select groups, based on a variety of factors such as needs, characteristics and behaviors so that the application of the marketing mix can be appropriate to the individual buyer.

When searching for prospects on LinkedIn, you can use the search parameters to quickly find your target audience. You can search by keyword, location, company name, connection level and more. In this search, I used ‘Chief Marketing Officer’ as my keywords. From there, I can drill down my list to make it more targeted.

Note, to get an even more targeted prospect list using more search parameters, consider upgrading your account to LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator plan.

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Once you’ve pulled up a list of targeted prospects, you will want to reach out to them with targeted messaging. Never send the generic connection request. Instead, use the space to come across as helpful and interesting. Doing so will not only increase the likelihood of your¬†prospects accepting your connection request, it will make them want to learn more about you and possibly reach out.

Send irresistible connection requests to your prospects in three easy steps:

1) Add the human element: Mention something of their’s that you read, a current event you were impressed with, a common connection or industry interest.

2) Establish why you’re reaching out.

3) Tell them how you can help them in their SPECIFIC role at the company.

Here’s an example connection request using the three steps…

Hi Kelly,

I’ve been following your company for the past year. I recently read¬†the article in the Denver Business Journal mentioning you and your impressive work. My company helps CMOs¬†like¬†you over-deliver on their sales and marketing KPI’s. Can we connect?

Regards,

John

Being proactive about growing your network as an entrepreneur is a must. When you’re proactive about reaching out to prospects your profile views will skyrocket because people will naturally be curious in who you are. Especially if your connection request message is good enough to spark their interest.

Another place to find warm leads on LinkedIn is under the “Who’s viewed your profile section.” To find it from the home page look on the left-hand side underneath your profile picture. With a free account, you are limited to seeing only the last three or four profile viewers. However, with a premium account, you can see everyone who has viewed your profile.

This matters because you can see when prospects have viewed your profile. Don’t be creepy and reach out like five minutes later after they view your profile, but do put any prospects who view your profile on a list to follow up with.

Engage with prospects by sharing insights

Once you’ve started to build your network of prospects, the next to step is to engage with them and get them to notice you. These LinkedIn engagement strategies will help you get noticed and start conversations with key decision makers and influencers. People come to LinkedIn because they want business-related content that will add to their industry knowledge. In other words, “they are over” the crap that’s on their Facebook wall and they have come to LinkedIn to be intellectually challenged.

Always keep your buyer in mind when you are posting content to LinkedIn. Once your prospects have seen and engaged with your content, it makes pitching them later much more natural.

Never just post links to outside websites on LinkedIn that don’t include any context. In fact, LinkedIn’s algorithm prefers that you don’t post any external links. They want you to create on-platform discussions.

Follow these seven techniques to stay top of mind with your target audience and become known as their trusted expert, so that when they’re ready to buy they think of contacting you first.

1) Engage with your prospect’s content

Most people do the opposite, they overshare. Instead, to get your prospects attention, engage on their posts by sharing them,¬†putting a like, and most importantly making insightful comments that show your subject matter expertise. Don’t just comment, “nice post.” Make your comment memorable.

2) Share striking visual content accompanied with engaging text

Grab your audience’s attention with striking visuals and then write a paragraph or two (well spaced out for mobile users). Avoid long paragraphs and big blocks of text.

The ideal image dimension for upload on LinkedIn is a width of 700px and a height of 400px. Use Canva.com.

3) Use strong calls to action in your posts

Here are the words to use to inspire your customers to want to learn more about your company and its products:

  • Learn more here and get started toward…
  • Check out how this will help your company…
  • Discover this new way to…
  • Find out why so many companies are using this to improve their…

4) Use video to captivate your audience

The most popular content on LinkedIn right now is native video (not YouTube). Upload the video directly from your device instead of putting an external link to YouTube as LinkedIn’s algorithm will penalize your post distribution for the external link. Naturally, the algorithm favors native video because there is no external link driving users to a different platform.

Use LinkedIn native video to

  • Hype product launches.
  • Draw more visitors to your booth at events.
  • Show behind the scenes of your office or key innovations.
  • Share your thoughts on trending topics within your industry.
  • Use LinkedIn’s new Video Ads to reach an ultra-targeted audience.

Earlier this year LinkedIn rolled out sponsored video posts for brands. Entrepreneurs can now post videos to¬†either their Company Page or Showcase page and do a sponsored post. Using LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager enables audience targeting via job title, industry, company name and more.

However, using LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences allows brands to take their¬†targeting to the account level. You can create a list by uploading emails from current accounts if you want to target existing customers.

To target new accounts with your video ads, just upload a list of emails from the company CRM from prospects that are in the lead development stage.

Then, track the results with LinkedIn’s built-in conversion tracking.

5) Create blog posts that show your level of expertise

When creating blog posts on LinkedIn keep in mind the needs and pain points of the customer demographic you are trying to attract. Your blog posts should help them along their buyer’s journey by educating them. Provide unique insights into your industry. Write about the news in your industry and other timely topics.

The audience should know why you are writing about this and why it’s relevant to them right now. Bring your unique expertise to the post that others cannot provide.

Don’t just repeat what others are saying! Give an opinion and provide concise arguments that are supported by industry studies conducted by experts and other strong evidence to support your stance.

Not sure what to write about or what stories are trending in your industry? Check out the¬†Trending Storylines¬†feature for the day’s top posts on Pulse.

You can pitch your post to be featured by tweeting at the LinkedIn Editors twitter handle @LinkedInEditors. In your tweet, make sure to give a reason why the post should be featured, including the link to the article, and any trending hashtags.

Make sure to check out these references for more great tips:

LinkedIn’s executive editor,¬†Daniel Roth, provides a free half-hour LinkedIn Learning course that I highly recommend everybody writing on LinkedIn check out:¬†Writing to Be Heard on LinkedIn.

6) Use hashtags to help your posts become discoverable

Users can now follow hashtags on LinkedIn. Then, LinkedIn’s algorithm is pushing out the content to the feeds those people who are following a particular hashtag. So, by using hashtags in your posts you can reach people who are not necessarily following you.

Go here for a list of LinkedIn’s most popular hashtags. Some of which have over a million followers.

7) Engage prospects over messenger

A green dot next means they are currently logged in. Try a non-sales approach like offering to send them a piece of content that may benefit their business. Try engaging them with insights instead of a sales pitch or a “just checking in.”

Example script for SaaS company targeting law firms:

Hi [Name],

I recently wrote a new blog post that our legal industry clients have found quite helpful in growing their practice. It’s called,¬†“5 Emerging Technologies That Are Saving Law Firms Both Time and Money.” Would it be ok if I send it to you for feedback?

Regards,

John

Notice, instead of pitching them on my service right away, I offered to send them a piece of content that I felt would be helpful for their business. Develop evergreen content that your prospects will appreciate and offer to send it to them.

This has been the best approach I’ve found to open the door to future conversations with prospects on LinkedIn. You can message all of your first-level connections on LinkedIn. However, if you wish to message prospects outside of your network you will need to purchase LinkedIn’s Inmail feature available on premium plans.

Measure your success

LinkedIn provides all of its users with free analytics regarding the performance of each post. Use this information to determine if your posts are being seen by your target audience. You can see the geographic location of your post viewers, their company name, and job title. If you see that your target audience is not viewing your content you know that there is a problem with either your content not resonating or your network not containing enough of your prospects.

Here’s some analytics from a recent video I shared that got almost 70,000 views.

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On the left, you will see that it was viewed by some pretty big name companies. Hopefully, some of those companies will be in your sales funnel or if they’re not you may have just discovered a new prospect. The middle category shows the job title of the viewers. For this post, I’m excited that almost 3,000 CEOs viewed it! Your aim is to have the title of the decision makers that you sell to on this list.

On the right, you can find the geographic location of the post viewers. Here you want to see that the geographic areas that your business sells to are represented. And if there is a lot of interest in your posts from areas you don’t serve, it could indicate there is interest in your products in new markets.

Final thought

Selling on LinkedIn is about creating relationships. It’s never been about clicking on random links to make sales.

When you approach LinkedIn the right way, you can use it to build a powerful funnel that over time will be a consistent lead generator for your business.

Are you ready to 10x your company’s lead generation with LinkedIn? Fill out the below form and we will contact you to help you develop and execute a winning strategy.

 

 

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