linkedin logoBusiness networking is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, since business began networking has existed in some guise, although it may not have had a name or been immediately obvious to the earliest entrepreneurs.

Today, business networking remains a key driver of sales in organisations around the globe. Technological advances and the advent of online social networks have presented a great opportunity in this area but many companies and individuals have failed make the transition to online networking.

What you need is a LinkedIn marketing strategy, one which is company-wide regardless of role. LinkedIn is the most obvious platform for entrepreneurs, marketers and sales guys to take advantage of online business networking but how can you make the most of LinkedIn marketing.

Making the Right Connections

Ever said or thought anything along these lines: “I really want company X as a client, but I can’t get in front of them and I have no idea who to get in touch with!”.  Ok, a little bit of an exaggeration admittedly, it was an obstacle that the truly persistent would overcome long before the internet, SiliconCloud and LinkedIn marketing, but now the solution is at your fingertips:

Simply identify the companies you want to talk to and use the search function on LinkedIn to find the company. This will generate a list of employees working for that company; all you need to do now is find the employee with the role most suited to your needs. For example, if you are working in a tech company, you will then be able to see who the IT manager is, connect with them and either try to make the sale or nurture them over time.

Go Premium

It really does have advantages. Firstly, it makes you look good! There is something about a premium LinkedIn account which adds to your personal brand. It’s not unlike wearing a designer label, or driving a luxury car, it’s a status symbol and you simply must have it.

Secondly , all the extra features. Not that many admittedly but InMail (the ability to message anyone who accepts them), OpenMail (the ability for anybody on LinkedIn to contact you) and Introductions (getting introduced by your connection to one of theirs) can be extremely valuable.

Use Your InMail

InMail allows you to contact (and hopefully connect with) a prospect and is one of the most powerful LinkedIn marketing tools.  It is similar to an unsolicited email but the person will tell you what you can contact them about so unlike the email you have permission. With an unsolicited email you really have no idea who is contacting you. Is it spam? A virus? With LinkedIn they can check out your profile first before responding removing this fear.

Please allow me to introduce myself

Introductions allow you to take advantage of the connections you already have. With LinkedIn’s terms of service it may not be possible to connect with a particular person. With introductions you can connect to that friend of a friend who just happens to fall squarely into your target market. Also, the fact you have a mutual contact increases your credibility and makes it easier to arrange a face to face meeting (we recommend the golf course and bring your mutual “friend”).

Put a face to a name

You might have somebody’s name, email, phone number and every other contact detail under the sun but how many times do you complain about unsolicited emails or cold calls? Yep, ALL THE TIME! This is probably just as infuriating for the person you are trying to connect with and by doing so you risk damaging your credibility and losing that contact for good. However, LinkedIn is all about growing your network so connecting with a person here usually has the opposite effect.  People are more than happy to accept invitations to connect. Again we think it’s a status thing, having 500+ connections looks good and we’re pretty sure the ability to put a face to a name has a lot to do with this too.

Drip feed your audience

Once you are connected you can just drip feed your audience information. Potential clients aren’t always going to be ready to buy right away. By adding them as a connection on Linkedin you can keep them updated on your products and services, build a personal relationship and ensure that your company has the greatest share of mind so that when they are ready to buy, yep you’ve guessed it…

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