LinkedIn is a powerful tool for social networking. It’s part of the fabric of the professional world, where people build their presence and network. There have been many good things to come out of the platform but also negative things, like people getting too much spam in their direct messages.
Many of these messages mean well. Someone is offering something of value, but it requires a certain etiquette for you to earn that opportunity to reach out. Generating business on LinkedIn is possible and can be very effective. It requires a specific strategy focused on an audience-first approach.
In Arvid Kahl’s recent book, The Embedded Entrepreneur, he explains the importance of putting your audience first-- before the product. You obsess over the particular community’s needs and what they desire. He points to museums and how they generate much of their funds through the gift shop:
“Museums have understood a core rule of a successful business: find your audience first, then sell them something they need. They think ‘audience-driven.’”
People go to a museum to see art and appreciate it. Once that need is fulfilled, they see mementos they can take home. The industry knows its audience.
In the same way, if we work hard to nurture our LinkedIn audience and network, and reach out to each person the right way, we can generate business.
Social media platforms have a very distinct culture. You notice this on some more than others.
The most drastic example is when you visit a Subreddit or Facebook Group. The community is distinct with a certain set of rules. If you break it, it sticks out like a sore thumb and will be reprimanded. For example, if you joined a Facebook group about cars and advertised on a post, depending on their own rules, you will likely get a slap on the wrist for promotion or banned.
You need to feed yourself and your employees, so how do you do it? Much like the book referenced before, we need to embed ourselves into the platform.
Add value on LinkedIn before you ask for something. By getting a sense of your network’s culture, you can engage with everyone and get a feel for the platform.
Why does this matter? People get upset when accepting an invite on LinkedIn, and the first correspondence the person sends is asking for a sales call. Search through Twitter and you will see Tweets talking about this and why people have left the platform. It’s ineffective when you are trying to generate sales.
Instead, build a relationship first on the individual level but also as a content creator on the platform. When it’s time, you can reach out to targeted people about a need you can fulfill.
This is the best way to get noticed on LinkedIn. Most people consume content. Few create it. When you do, it sets you apart and you get noticed.
Many people who develop a personal brand will work hard to build a reputation and following. They reach a very realistic point in followers and they get requests for contracts or get purchases without them having to try and sell. People see the value you give away and they want more.
Create LinkedIn posts with valuable insight and tips. Publish articles using the platform-tools they give you. Show people what you offer instead of *telling* them what you offer. By sharing information, testimonials, stories, and more, you will build a presence and generate business.
This brings exposure and new sales to your door.
When people see your content, they will discover you. Some will invite you to connect. This is your main method to grow your personal profile. If you run a brand profile, people will follow it for more value.
On professional accounts, send invitations to key people and others in your network. This is a powerful way to expand your reach. But many people do it the wrong way and start the relationship off badly.
When you send the invite, reference common ground. Why are you interested in getting to know the person? Tell them why you want to connect. Compliment a recent accomplishment and keep the initial message short.
These connections, done the right way, create powerful relationships. As you nurture them, you can find out their unique needs and offer them a solution. They will also likely spread the word about you and help you expand your reach.
While content creation is critical to increase exposure and generate sales, it’s only shouting to the internet if you are not engaged with the people reacting to the content.
Many social media profiles have thousands of followers but very little engagement. This is because they either increased a following through a quick-and-easy method that didn’t have long-term value or because they never interact with their followers/connections.
Social media is social. It requires us to engage and have conversations. As we do, we build a better presence and loyal following.
Many people purchase from you because they trust you. This is the primary way to build it.
You might be thinking, great, I know how to act on LinkedIn, but how do I get new business? When you follow all the right steps, you are laying the groundwork for a successful sales plan.
Now that you’ve nurtured an audience, it’s time to get them to act. Create a lead magnet that can help distinguish qualified leads. You can offer a free eBook, quiz, video, or any resource that solves their problem.
At the end of the resource or document, you can have a call to action for your paid offering. This will encourage them to contact you or purchase. Lead magnets are great because, in exchange for the resource, you get an email. Now you know who is interested in what you offer.
While email is the best information to collect, another popular strategy is asking for a direct message. You mention a free resource and to get it, people need to message you. This requires more work but also encourages individual conversations with qualified leads. A third option is asking people to comment on the post and now you have a record of who is interested and their network will likely see the post too.
How do you present the resource? A great post touching on the subject will be a great idea. In the comments, post your magnet to encourage people to find out more. In a new post the next day, post an announcement about the resource on its own.
Once you have those emails, start adding more value to them through more emails for those who haven’t purchased yet.
If you need clients or accounts and need to contact people, start picking out people in your network that you have developed relationships. Throughout your LinkedIn strategy, you have been very intentional about the people you have interacted with and grow your reputation with.
Since you have made a lead magnet, you will find some great people that you could add to the list as well.
Once you have your list, identify what makes those people click and how their needs connect with their emotions. How can you communicate your solution to them?
We often think of LinkedIn and other social media platforms with the newsfeed in mind. While that’s the main way to share information and increase exposure, it’s not the best way to build relationships or connections.
The magic is in Direct Messages. This is where you communicate with possible leads and key prospects. On LinkedIn, you should be having conversations with these people and offering value before making an offer. You want to build trust. If it’s not there, then you risk them ignoring you or seeing you as spam.
When you feel like the time is right, send that message! How do you know? Assuming you’ve built rapport, you might see a sign through one of their posts or comments you have shared.
Here is an ideal message:
You mentioned it’s been difficult for you to sell your products on your online store because people leave after visiting pretty quickly.
I checked it out for myself and notice it loads slower than it should. Have you looked into finding ways to speed up your website?
Gabriella will see this as helpful. She knows you. She’ll probably answer that she’s tried to solve her problem or she hasn’t started yet. This is when you, the developer expert, can let her know you can fix it through your service.
Why will she be receptive on LinkedIn? She knows you provide value on the platform. She has a foundational relationship with you. And your message was relevant to her and her needs. This is powerful and very effective.
This is hard work. It means showing up every day. While it takes some investment to generate business on LinkedIn this way, it’s also effective and people have built entire businesses through the platform.
Yes, you can send messages to as many people as possible with a general message. But the conversion will be a lot lower and you will negatively affect your brand image in the long run.
By being consistent on LinkedIn, putting people first, and giving away value, you can generate considerable business on the platform.