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Robin Colner: Get LinkedIn to business with social selling techniques

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At this time of year many of us resolve to improve our professional and personal lives. Here are the LinkedIn resolutions that will help you advance in your business and take less time than a daily exercise plan.

Robin Colner digitalNow is the time to optimize your LinkedIn profile. It’s also important to establish a routine on the platform that powerfully supports your business development and personal branding goals.

Many people think LinkedIn is just an online contact file or a job site. These are common misconceptions. In fact, it is the first place most prospective clients, employers and strategic partners look for subject matter experts and skilled professionals. In today’s digital-first environment, over 75 percent of business-to-business buyers turn to LinkedIn and the internet as the first step to identify appropriate service providers.

By now many people have established a basic LinkedIn profile. It is common, however, for people to set it and forget it. That’s not enough.

Consider the following recommendations to leverage LinkedIn to generate leads and sales, attract speaking engagements, identify opportunities for career advancement and position yourself as a thought leader.

OPTIMIZE YOUR PROFILE TO STAND OUT FROM YOUR PEERS
AND APPEAR MORE PROMINENTLY IN LINKEDIN SEARCHES
Headshot and headline: A professional headshot is a must along with a 120-character headline that highlights your functional expertise. It’s better to list skills instead of job titles and names of firms. These positions are already included in your profile. Keyword-rich headlines also provide greater visibility.

Executive summary: Create an executive summary that tells the story of “You” in a compelling way. Add rich media such as videos, PowerPoint presentations and media mentions to highlight your knowledge. This provides insights about your unique set of experiences, accomplishments and passions. LinkedIn’s advanced search engine scans for keywords associated with your functional skills, so include them within the 2,000-character limit.

Experience: Each position within the Experience section offers members opportunities to describe responsibilities and accomplishments. To stand out among your peers, provide details rather than just a job title with employment dates.

Skills and recognition: LinkedIn has sections to include publications, certifications, education, recommendations, volunteer positions and professional skills. Include as much information as possible to illustrate your expertise and achievements.

GROW YOUR FOLLOWING AND CREATE PROSPECT LISTS
Once you have optimized your profile, it’s time to send personal invitations to contacts to join your network. Business development professionals know that building an extensive following helps them identify key connections, who often provide introductions to potential clients and customers. LinkedIn’s advanced search engine, premium business subscriptions and Sales Navigator platform help professionals develop customized prospect lists for targeted outreach.

ENHANCE YOUR PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
THROUGH CONTENT MARKETING
It’s important to scan your home feed every day. Look for opportunities to discover content related to your industry and engage with the content shared by your network. Like, share or comment on the posts and articles your connections upload. This engagement is one of the best ways to build relationships and remain on the radar of your referral network.

Content is the engine that supports business development through LinkedIn. Content refers to original blog posts (called Articles), case studies, videos, white papers, interviews and research reports. It’s also important to share content from other industry sources through links that you curate for your network. The content you share reinforces your reputation as a subject matter expert and attracts clients and recruiters. Add hashtags related to the topic to increase your content’s visibility.

Pro tip: Share original content including videos with your prospects and referral sources through personal inMails, LinkedIn groups and other social media sites to expand your visibility.

SOCIAL SELLING HELPS CLOSE DEALS
People do business with people they know, like and trust. Professionals can support their sales efforts with content that addresses their clients’ real interests and problems. Helping beats selling.

Referral partners can use content you share to highlight your experience. Many firms recognize the value of producing content for their LinkedIn Company Page that can be re-shared by employee advocates and promoted to a targeted audience through advertisements.

Pro tip: Develop and implement a plan for connecting with key decision-makers by creating a content calendar that aligns with your sales prospecting strategy.

The key to closing sales through LinkedIn is to provide valuable insights, information and solutions on a consistent basis. Commit the effort. It works!

Robin Colner is the CEO of DigiStar Media, a marketing and training firm that helps businesses and professionals generate visibility, leads and sales using digital and social media including LinkedIn. Colner is the director of the Digital and Social Media Professional Certificate Program at Fordham University’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies. She can be reached at 914-826-5512 or at Rcolner@DigiStarMedia.com, and on Twitter: @RobinColner.

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