How to Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation

I recently got asked how to be successful on LinkedIn, here’s my latest blog on how to generate new connections and sales leads – comments welcome

LinkedIn is a bit of a science. It’s much like your Facebook wall if you want it to be, full of ads and meaningless posts by people you don’t know every well. However with a bit of thought (and time) you can narrow the scopes and set a strategy that will bear fruits for things like lead generation, referrals, personal status and brand awareness.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

When I first started out using LinkedIn it was just like Facebook – “Look Mum I have a 100 connections!” – Quantity over quality. After a while I realised that simply connecting to people wasn’t really doing me any favours, in fact I was burning time in my valuable week sifting through irrelevant posts endlessly.

More recently, I started an online business. It’s a digital news publication and so I thought social media would be the best way of getting me started and spreading the word about my new business. I chose LinkedIn as my major and so off I went researching how I could best use this huge social networking platform for business. Here’s what I learnt…

  • Start with WHY? – make sure you have purpose. Sounds simple but what exactly are you trying to achieve?
  • Clear the decks – disconnect from people if they post trash, be brutal. LinkedIn is not Facebook, it’s a professional social networking platform for business people and you don’t want unnecessary noise on your feed.
  • Sort your profile page – your profile page is not a brag page, don’t be a jerk and boast about awards, certificates and possessions you have. Be cool. This is a really crucial point.
  • Choose a friendly Headline – having Sales Person, Business Development or Recruiter in your title is likely to put people off.. be an educator, thought leader or someone that wants to help others before themselves..
  • WHO is your target audience? – what industry, location, interests, skills to they belong to?
  • Start with small buckets – choose a small audience to start that fit a certain criteria e.g interest, job role
  • Isolate keywords and hashtags – what is your audience searching for? If you have identified what your target audience are interested in then matching up keywords is easy.. you could use Google’s Keyword Tool if you’re struggling.
  • Collect, curate and share – use something like Feedly to monitor Google News and specific RSS feeds. It provides a free edition that will give you a simple to use dashboard (Mobile App and Desktop Browser). Find interesting news posts, read them and share them on LinkedIn on a regular basis.
  • Don’t just share a link – when sharing interesting articles and stories put your own spin on it. People respond to that personal touch! If you’re struggling, copy and paste an interesting snippet of text from the article.
  • Hashtags rule – Recently LinkedIn stepped up their game when it comes to hashtags. Make sure your hashtags are relevant and don’t over do it. 3 keywords is normally more than enough.
  • Visual content – we buy with our eyes before anything else. If you want to grab the attention of others (especially amongst the noise of social feeds) make sure your chosen image or the one being posted from your shared link appeals to the eye.
  • Tagging people – very very very powerful. When you tag others (people and companies) you’ll be amazed how much better the results will be. When you tag someone they receive an instant alert. If it’s good you’ll get a like or comment, possibly even a share! LinkedIn prioritises posts that get engagement over lonely posts with low or zero engagement.
  • Video rocks – LinkedIn (as of 2018) is prioritising video over static content. If you can find a good video on YouTube, download it (using a YouTube ripping tool) and then re-upload it to LinkedIn, you’ll get results. Reference the source, it’s best practice and will avoid the originator telling you off.
  • Engage with others – it’s a life rule, givers gain! I heard it once in a BNI networking group and I live by it. If you like, comment, share other people’s posts on social media they’ll reciprocate.
  • Opinion – don’t be a social hand grenade and don’t be too quiet either. Find some balance, make constructive, well-thought-out comments and you’ll see the difference.
  • Routine – bake LinkedIn into your routine and make it a daily habit. Whether it’s 15 minutes a day or 2 hours a day, make sure you are consistent. Too many people go big guns to soon and then burn out within a few days or weeks. Winners develop habits and stick to them.
  • Less is more – start small. Choose one keyword, share something a couple of times per day and do some liking and commenting.
  • Connect with people and follow companies – One you have a good solid profile page and a healthy feed of posts and activity, start connecting to the people that match your criteria.
  • Add a note – don’t just connect, add a personal note. State why you’re connecting with them. If your intentions are to sell to them, probably best not to say ‘Hey I want to sell you something!’. Test a few things, find out what works and stick to your winning formula.
  • Messaging connections – Sending messages on LinkedIn is a bit like email spam. Be respectful of your connections, don’t send them salesy messages. Be cool, do your background on the person and company and politely request to talk to them. The foundation of good prospecting skills is to¬†start with WHY. Figure out what your prospect might need, identify the challenge and provide a solution.
  • Enjoy it – social selling is fun, low cost and can be much more powerful than cold calling or email marketing. Shotgun marketing sucks, sniper your targets, engage with them properly and you’ll be just fine.

Being successful at social selling requires patience, hard work, dedication and persistence. Focus your mind and make it a daily habit and you’ll be amazed how fruitful it can be. If something doesn’t work, try again. Find yourself a winning formula and stick at it.