Leveraging social media is a familiar tactic for individuals. Have you written a new blog post? Then go on Facebook and let your friends and family know. Have you reviewed a new book for The New York Times? Then go on Twitter and post a link to your review, which will likely get picked up by that book’s publishing house.

Companies have been a bit slower than individuals in realizing the power of social media. That’s quickly changing, says my latest guest on PowerViews, Koka Sexton, LinkedIn’s senior manager of social marketing.

An evangelist for social selling—and a U.S. Armed Forces veteran who served eight years in countries such as Iraq, Bosnia, and Panama—Koka is an acknowledged social expert in the technology industry. Here are some salient outtakes from our discussion, which can be viewed in its entirety below.

What is Social Selling?

Click to start video at this point—Koka told me that when he first signed up for LinkedIn more than 10 years ago, social selling didn’t even have a name. It’s been an evolution, he says, as companies began recognizing the power of leveraging social media. For salespeople in particular, LinkedIn allows you to differentiate yourself—not by what’s listed on your resume, but by the people you’re connected to.

Sales Managers Didn’t Want Their People on Social Media All Day

Click to start video at this point—In some industries, spending all day on social media would be frowned upon by bosses. But in sales, you’re out in the cold if you don’t have a browser open to LinkedIn. Sales managers used to think the Internet was a time-sapper, too, but companies are starting to realize that social media is a huge portal to sales opportunities.

People Still Buy from People, Regardless of Technology

Click to start video at this point—Koka’s “eureka” moment was when he recognized the value in connecting his Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Twitter is more of a running conversation, where people relax and divulge more personal information. LinkedIn is more buttoned up. But if you can get to know people on both levels—personally and professionally—you gain a different insight as a salesperson. This cross pollination fosters relationships and widens your network.

Leverage Your Social Proximity

Click to start video at this point—As customers become more technologically savvy and do more research, salespeople are going to have to be reactive, Koka says. If a potential customer visits your company website and downloads a white paper, one of the first things your sales team will want to know is who is connected to that potential customer on LinkedIn. The more people you’re connected to, the bigger your sales pipeline.

You can connect with Koka and learn more about his work at LinkedIn via the following resources:

Koka Sexton

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kokasexton

Twitter: @kokasexton

The next PowerViews will be with Nick Stein of Salesforce.com. Stay Tuned.