LinkedIn boasts a community of over 332 million business professionals (as at November 2014).
I’m sure many you have a profile on LinkedIn and are maybe not sure what to do with it? Or how to make LinkedIn work for you. Well you’re not alone. I come across many people in this situation who are unsure how to use LinkedIn to their best advantage.
LinkedIn is the top business-to-business social platform for professionals and is a great place to connect and grow your business – but only if you know who you’re targeting and the right type of people to prospect.
So here’s a quick “cheat-sheet” to help get you started.
Who is your ideal Prospect?
Take a minute to think through exactly who you want to target. What type of people are your ideal customer or client? If you answer:
- All Small Business Owners
- Anyone in purchasing
Then these answers are just too broad. If you target everyone then how will you be able to differentiate against your competitors? How will you be able to stand out? And more importantly how can everyone be the right fit for your business?
If this is all you can come up with then think about the types of people you really like working with and what types of businesses are a good from a financial perspective? What businesses bring you a good revenue?
Here are some questions to ask that you’ll need to answer:
- What are your target industries?
- What geographical areas are you targeting
- Are your prospects most likely to be hanging out in certain LinkedIn groups, if so, which ones?
- What company size is the right fit for you? 1 man band; Up to 50 employees or corporate with over 500 employees?
- What positions does your ideal client hold (CEO, FD, MD)
Once you have gathered all this information, it might be a good idea to build a quick cheat sheet to refer to.
This information is critical for effective targeting.
How best to reach out on LinkedIn
Once your prospect is identified, then even if you have a free LinkedIn account, you are still able to save maximum of 3 searches.
Here’s how to set up a LinkedIn search:
1. Click on the magnifying blue search box.
2. This will show you how many contacts are returned in your results.
3. Refine your search by the choices on the left hand side. You can choose by Location, Current Company, Industry, Past Company, etc
4. Then save your search, and return to it until you decide to create a new search.
Reach out and Message your Prospect
If you think that once you have a LinkedIn profile that people will come running to you, then think again. The only way to get LinkedIn to work for you is to be pro-active and reach out.
There’s no one hard and fast rule, or even a one size fits all so it’s a case of trying out a few different types of messages to see what you get the most success with.
One Golden Rule is do not use the default “I want to connect with you…” message to connect. This is a statutory message that shows you don’t really care much about your prospect. Connection rates using this message are incredibly low.
I use the message: “I noticed that we have a common connection and thought it would be a good opportunity to connect and reach out here”.
The most important aspect here is to show that you care about the prospect by mentioning something you may have in common with them, or an interest you share. Check thoroughly their profile to see if you have an alignment with what you’re doing or what you may want to do. By taking this approach your connection rate will be around 60-70%.
Then once you’ve connected – DON’T try and sell to them. Just suggest that you want to have a conversation as there may be some synergy between your two businesses where you can help each other.
Remember – it’s all about the Relationship
The whole purpose of this exercise is to reach out and start new prospective relationships. In order for any relationship to be given the best start they need to be able to trust you, understand the value of your knowledge and know that you have the experience to deliver results.
What is your experience with LinkedIn? I’d love to get your feedback on how it’s worked for you.