I was on the phone with a prospect the other day. He asked me the silly question of, “Are you really a belly dancer?!” and I replied, “Hardly… why are you asking?” He then informed me that he looked me up while we were talking, but he definitely came across the wrong LinkedIn profile. Of course, I had already looked him up as well and invited him to connect. In sales, it’s about connecting and networking; LinkedIn is a great tool for both. In a recent survey of sales people, 78.3% stated they use social media in the sales process. You may not be a sales person, but in today’s business world, each person in the company can have an impact on sales – negative or positive. Your company’s image can be enhanced and your brand awareness increased by effective use of LinkedIn.
Here are some tips on using LinkedIn for sales:
1. Be Social
Your profile should include your full name. What’s with the use of an initial instead of the full last name? We have Google; we can find out who you are. And those of you who don’t have a good photo—and I’m not talking about one of your boat or your dog—how social is that? People want to get a sense of who you are. Use the summary area to tell your story. Why do you do what you do? Why do you believe in your service or product?
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Remember the six degrees of separation? Let’s remove a few of those degrees and accept those invitations. You really can’t have too many connections. Unless someone is a direct competitor and wants to steal your clients or from a foreign country and looking for your bank account information, it’s probably safe to connect. All those connections have connections and that helps with branding and networking.
3. Join Groups
Find groups that your clients and prospects are joining. Avoid using these groups for “sales spam”. Don’t be a “creeper” looking for the next victim. Look for ways to provide helpful information and position yourself as a subject matter expert.
There are several ways to educate clients and prospects about your area of expertise. Connect your blog to your profile. Add a video or Slide Share presentation to create a visual of your skill sets.
You can learn about clients and prospects by following their company page. By following a company, you’ll be able to see company news, information on employee changes and what they are blogging or tweeting about. It’s a great way to show interest and get to know them.
Being a connector takes focus. I depend on some key tools to help me increase connections. A handy tool is the Outlook Social Connector. It’s a free tool that brings LinkedIn info to your Outlook:
When I send or receive an email, LinkedIn information for the sender or recipient shows up at the bottom of the email and I am able to send a LinkedIn invite without leaving Outlook. You can also easily email your connections through Outlook through this tool.
The second tool I use is Cardmunch. Cardmunch is a mobile app and can be downloaded from the App Store if you have an iPhone. Cardmunch replaces the rolodex. You can easily create a list of prospects or clients by using the camera feature to snap an image of the person’s business card. The app grabs the person’s photo from LinkedIn and adds it to the contact information from the card. A button on the contact profile shows you if you are already linked to the contact or allows you to send a LinkedIn invite. It’s especially helpful if you are at an expo or business meeting and gathering business cards.
These tips and tools will help you maximize your use of LinkedIn as the great sales tool it is. As technology continues to evolve and our sales process continues to shift with the digital age, more useful social media tactics and tools will be developed to make it easier to find our prospects and generate sales.
To learn more about how a social media strategy can be used to generate sales, visit our Summer of Social Media page here.