I get asked about this a lot (and addressed it briefly in an earlier post here). Here are six more quick tips (mostly relevant to B2B sellers) for building relationships and finding prospects on LinkedIn.
1. Read the Daily Digest every day
First of all, make sure you get it delivered every day (not everyone has this turned on, and it’s prone to hit your spam filter if you’re not careful). Then take the time to read it. I guarantee you’ll find someone you care about, who you haven’t talked to in awhile, has an update. Great excuse to reach back out. You’ll also find prospects who just released something, or just changed something in their profile. Great excuse to send a note of congratulations, offer a new contextual suggestion, etc. Be the guy or gal who reaches out first, and takes notice of the little things. People appreciate that.
2. Join & participate in groups
Groups on LinkedIn aren’t for selling. But there’s a group for everything up there. It’s a long tail of interests to mine for ideas, customer pain points, and prospects who are early in the buying cycle. Instead of selling, use this opportunity to create value. Answer questions. Post interesting and relevant articles. Start to generate visibility and awareness for yourself and your organization in the group as a trusted resource of information.
3. Keep your profile up to date
Describe your expertise. Use benefit and outcome-oriented keywords and statements to describe your company and what you do. Feature recommendations (more on that later). Add modules to auto-integrate content from your blog, Slideshare account, Twitter feed and more. Make your profile content-rich and relevant. The more relevant, the more people will be attracted to you (and find you in searches). And the more updates (without going overboard), the more often you’ll show up in the Daily Digest emails for others.
4. Ask and answer questions
The best way to maximize eyeballs and impact from LinkedIn Answers is to ask the questions instead of just answering. What kind of questions should you field? Look at your consultative selling questions for inspiration. What questions relate to your prospect’s current priorities? Or likely problems and pain points? What questions can you ask that attract prospective customers and get them already talking about what they’re doing and what they need?
5. Give recommendations
What goes around comes around. Make a habit of giving people who deserve it a recommendation on LinkedIn and you’re likely to get a few back too. This is a great way to “do good” for those in your network without asking for or expecting anything in return. But believe me, it will be appreciated and remembered.
6. Ask for specific referrals & introductions
Most companies and salespeople ask their contacts generally for referrals. But your response rate will go up significantly if you ask for specific referrals. Browse through the network of those you want to get help from, and if your relationship is strong enough, ask for introductions to the 1-3 people you specifically want to meet. The more specific you are, the easier it is for someone to comply.
What would you add (or subtract) from this list?