The Internet is full of countless articles on how to use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website, network, research, recruit and build community.  There’s also dozens of seminars you can attend that preach the power of LinkedIn for business.  They all have one thing in common – the success metric is defined by the number of connections a person has.  

Really?  You’re not automatically successful on LinkedIn because you have 500+ connections.  It just means you have permission to communicate with 500+ people.  Shouldn’t one of the success metrics be the number of actionable leads you can build?  Over the last two weeks LinkedIn has accounted for 10.6% of our actionable sales leads and 6.3% of our website traffic.  This doesn’t necessarily have to be a sales lead.  If you are a recruiter a lead could be a job prospect.  You’ll need to figure out for yourself how to define a lead.

The key to developing these leads on LinkedIn is to communicate with as many people as you can.  So, it appears that having the greatest number of connections will position you to communicate with greatest amount of people.  This is true, but there’s another way, and in my opinion, a better way.

The key to building leads is by joining groups.  To join a group doesn’t require you to have any connections.  However, if you have zero or just a few connections you may appear to a group’s administrator as a spammer.  LinkedIn group administrators don’t have to let you join their group.  I don’t recommend that you join a bunch of groups without first building 25 or so connections.  This will better your chances of being accepted into a group.

The below is my advice on how to build leads using LinkedIn.  However, keep in mind that there is a fine line between helping people and self-promotion (spam).  If you are perceived as a spammer you will be scorned, kicked out of the group and your company’s reputation could be damaged.

How to generate leads using LinkedIn

  1. Join as many relevant groups as possible.
  2. Blog, blog and blog some more. . .
  3. Engage existing group conversations and use your blog posts to support your engagement.
  4. Start group conversations based on the premise of your blog posts while referencing them.
  5. Once someone else engages your comment continue to engage.
  6. Be helpful and share valuable information that positions you as an industry thought leader.
  7. Connect with those people that frequently engage you.
  8. Have fun!

How NOT to generate leads using LinkedIn

  1. Joining irrelevant groups.
  2. Not blogging.
  3. Leading your engagement with a link.
  4. Not adding value to the conversation.
  5. Ignoring other people’s comments.
  6. Sharing self-promotional material.
  7. Not connecting with the people that frequently engage you.