Building Sales through Social Media Part II – Why LinkedIn

As a small business, how much value do you place on customer loyalty? If you could engage your audience by providing true value, offering real-time data and introducing them to your connections, do you think they’ll buy from you when the time is right? You better believe it.

By Ken Schmitt, President, TurningPoint Executive Search

In Part I of this series, we talked about the importance of securing “social media shelf space” – leveraging multiple social media tools – Facebook, Twitter, corporate websites, blogs and LinkedIn – to build a broad-based web presence that speaks to multiple audiences across a variety of demographics. Failing to incorporate these channels into your sales & marketing campaign will allow your competition to connect with your customers. A recent study of 2,100 businesses by the Harvard Business Review revealed that 79% are using social media.

Which social media channel is right for me?

While there are a number of reasons to consider Facebook with 500m users, a $50b valuation and one of the most recognized brands in the world, it is not necessarily the best platform for your business. Likewise, while Twitter now boasts 110m tweets per day, star power including everyone from Anderson Cooper to Ashton Kutcher and a $10b valuation, there is a great deal of noise in this particular channel – Sysomos claims that 71% of tweets are ignored, 23% garner a reply and only 6% secure a retweet.

The key to this question – “which channel is right for me” – is determining where your customers and prospects hang out, online! My guess is that a quick analysis of your top 20 prospects will reveal the greatest presence, and easiest access, is on LinkedIn. After launching in 2002, LinkedIn now boasts over 90m worldwide users, representation from every Fortune 500 Company, a total of 1,000,000 company profiles and over 600,000 specialized groups – oh yeah, and a valuation of $2b with only $100m in revenues! LinkedIn has become so prominent, that a new user joins every second…. That means approximately 8 users joined while you were reading the last sentence!

So how do you know if your customers have a presence on LinkedIn? And more importantly, how can you determine whether or not the specific person who will buy your services has a presence on LinkedIn? Luckily, LinkedIn makes it very easy to find companies, people, titles, events, jobs , and of course, connections.

Follow these simple steps to achieve prospecting bliss

LinkedIn has done an amazing job of integrating an easy to use interface with in depth and relevant content. Are you interested in building a list of prospects in the restaurant industry! Click on the “companies” tab at the top of the page, go to “browse industries”, click on the “restaurants” link, and peruse the 5,115 different businesses in this category. Let’s say you already know that Procter & Gamble is one of your prospects. Simply click on the “companies” tab, type in Procter & Gamble, and review the 35,138 employees that have an affiliation with P&G. Better yet, perhaps you are looking specifically to find the name of the IT Manager at the San Diego-based, web security company Websense. By clicking on the “advance” search button under “people”, and entering the title “IT”, the company “Websense” and indicating that you only want to see currently employed IT professionals at this company, LinkedIn will return 39 results, any one of whom could be the current IT Manager.

The key to all of this, of course, is building your personal network in LinkedIn to allow for more connections and “links”. Think of LinkedIn as a global dot-to-dot game. No matter what picture you are trying to create – a company name, a title, a job – you can make it happen so long as you connect the right dots. In the LinkedIn world, each “dot” represents a person and your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to connect to the right people so you can complete your picture and reach your final destination.

The following is a list of the top 10 things you must do to maximize your network of “dots”.

  1. Build a personal and company profile that is complete and full of keywords that are relevant to your industry & function
  2. Analyze your rolodex or contact list and invite your offline network to join your LinkedIn network
  3. Review your contacts’ connections and request introductions to relevant professionals
  4. Upload documents, videos and presentations to showcase your skills & your company’s unique solutions
  5. Develop a strategy and action plan that will position you and your company as an expert in your field
  6. Commit 2-4 hours/week to managing your profiles and maintaining ongoing activity
  7. Update your status 2-3x each week with relevant market intelligence, articles, trends, stats, observations, stats, etc.
  8. Join relevant industry, geographic and alumni groups to broaden your exposure
  9. Start and comment on discussions within your groups to demonstrate your expertise
  10. Do Not Sell! Less than 10% of your communication should be an invitation to “buy” something

While Twitter and Facebook may be a great place to share personal notes, socialize with friends, share pictures and discuss the latest rock bank, LinkedIn is the social media site for professional communication. The deeper your network, the more likely your connections can get you to your target customer.

About the Author:
Ken C. Schmitt is an Executive Recruiter, Career Coach, Expert Resume-Writer and Master networker. He has been coaching and placing mid-senior level professionals for 13 years. Having presented to nearly 1000 professionals and written more than 50 career-related articles, Ken is well positioned to provide valuable information about recruiting and career management. For more career management advice visit- http://www.turningpointsearch.net/

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