If you’re looking for guidance on how to get started with LinkedIn and Social Selling, here is a basic plan to help you develop your foundation activities.
If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, sales person or consultant these steps are designed for you, so you can get started with LinkedIn and see results quickly.
And even if you’ve been using LinkedIn for a while this is a useful checklist for a review and an action plan for a step-change.
This is designed as a plan for 4 weeks.
- Short enough that the end is in sight from the beginning.
- Long enough to make a difference and change behaviours – if you stick at it.
After 4 weeks review your progress.
- See how your network has grown.
- Count the number of sales conversations you’ve initiated.
- And celebrate even more if it’s helped you to close a deal or two.
Several of my clients have reported back that they have seen a noticeable improvement within 4 weeks: landing new contracts, new clients, receiving approached for partnerships, and more.
Do let me know of your Success Story when you follow this plan through for 4 weeks.
Get started with LinkedIn using these 4 steps
Here are 4 basic steps to help you get started with LinkedIn.
These align with the Linkedin Social Selling Index which is an online tool that calculates a score for us based on our profile and activity.
Before you start making changes and being more active it’s useful to find out your starting point.
* Make a note of the overall score and the 4 section scores too.
1. Update your LinkedIn Profile
There are many reasons why updating your LinkedIn Profile is a good way to get started with LinkedIn. Don’t be a grey outline or skeleton. What have you achieved in the last 3 months that you could add to bring your profile right up to date.
- We only get one chance to make a first impression, so let’s make the most of it.
- Keywords in your profile will make you much more findable by people looking for those words.
- Contact details make it easy for people (prospects) to get in touch with us.
- Achievements in our Summary and Experience sections highlight our value
- Being customer focused highlights our value to them, rather than making them work it out for themselves.
Try to go beyond presenting an historical CV too. Add a forward looking dimension. Where are you leading your business, and your clients? What journey are you on and where are you headed?
2. Develop your contact network
Connect with people who you know, like and trust, if you haven’t already done so. This part can take a while and it can take a concerted effort when you get started with LinkedIn. However, getting to 500 connections, or to a major milestone in hundreds or thousands is a psychological reward.
As for who to have in our networks, for balance I suggest the following – represented by the head, arms and legs in the graphic:
- VIPs – Influencers, Sector leaders, and other established and relevant people for our target market. Connecting with these people adds credibility.
- Customers – senior people who have bought from us should be invited to connect
- Prospects – don’t wait until they become customers, invite them to connect early in the sales process
- Current and previous colleagues – staff and colleagues who you’re in contact with currently or previously
- Peers, partners and associates – people who are in your sphere who know, like and trust you. Connect with them too.
Go through your address book, email system, CRM etc. in a systematic way. And LinkedIn will suggest people who you might know too.
3. Share educational content
Now find and share some quality articles on the key topics you identified earlier, written by yourself, your company and third parties.
This is specifically Status Updates that you create – the comments and likes are part of the conversation piece at point 4.
The Mix-of-Six I developed a while ago is still a very valid guideline for people in a business development role. This covers:
- Landing page link – something that links to an offer or sign-up page of your website. This helps to build your email list and creates prospects
- Blog post link – something that highlights a blog post by you or a colleague. This should be valuable to your audience and is a soft promotion for your business
- Industry news – something from your email inbox from a trusted authority source. This builds your positioning as an authority
- Sector leader – something from one of the VIP people above on LinkedIn. This adds value to your followers and puts your name into their community
- Customer article – highlight something that a customer has put out as a press release or similar. This helps you build relationships and loyalty with clients
- Prospect news – maybe a press release, case study, article etc. Try to find something that can be linked via your wording to your brand positioning
There are tools available to help with this task. For example the LinkedIn Browser Bookmarklet. Hootsuite is better as you can connect LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts then share immediately or schedule or add to a buffer.
4. Start and develop conversations
Now is the time to really capitalise on this, through the conversations that you start and develop, to get to know, like and trust people even more.
Starting with the higher priority or easier approach I recommend:
a. Nurture current contacts
- Take note of the LinkedIn Prompts for work anniversaries, job changes etc.
- Identify ‘A’ list contacts in your network who are active on LinkedIn and start engaging. This ‘trains’ LinkedIn that you’re interested in them.
- Scan your home feed and comment on some posts that build your positioning and/or relationships.
b. Engage with people you attract
- Check who viewed your profile and invite them to connect with you.
- Check notifications to see who has commented on the content you shared, and respond.
- Respond to invitations you receive, accept and respond to the ones that you feel are worthwhile.
c. Move people through to other channels
- Invite them onto your email list
- Talk to them on the phone
- Set-up meetings with them
This section is where you’re investing time to develop relationships. It’s also where people can make the mistakes and without focus and control it can be very unproductive. Hence the importance of the next section.
Set yourself realistic goals
- Week 1 – investigate 20-25 profiles of Customers. Your objective might be to identify upsell opportunities, or to ask for an introduction from each of them. At 5-10 minutes each, that’s 2-3 hours.
- Week 2 – look for VIP contacts in your sector. Your objective might be to find 10 large ‘trophy’ companies you can approach. Again that might be 3 hours work.
- Week 3 – find, connect and talk to potential customers. Your objective might be 5 telephone conversations.
- Week 4 – publish an article on LinkedIn and notify 50 people directly. Researching, writing, publishing and promoting can take time but is worthwhile when it’s aligned and focused.
Through this activity you’re working to achieve some sales opportunities, to develop your network and learn what works and best practice along the way.
Make LinkedIn part of your daily sales activity
I have written about using LinkedIn instead of a daily commute as I work from home, so around 8:00, 16:30 and also around 11:30 for lunch. Timing is specific – essentially to be there before my audience so my posts are more visible. Lunchtime is quite good as it’s not prime time and, in my experience, people tend to interact more on Social Media then. It’s also when America arrives at work, so many of my contacts there become more active.
LinkedIn can be used for many purposes, so look for what you value and your time will be well rewarded:
- Listen – what are your network and Linkedin talking about in your home feed. Take ownership of what you receive, by seeking out what you like and switching off what you don’t. And if you don’t like something just ignore it – making a fuss by replying just gives it visibility to your network of contacts.
- Learn – LinkedIn is great for researching professional topics. Articles by Influencers and experts are valuable insight.
- Link – people are what make up a network, so take, and make, opportunities to connect and re-connect with people.
To truly get started with LinkedIn plan to spend 20-30 minutes in LinkedIn on a regular (daily) basis to developing relationships, building your network and raising your profile, based on the task areas above.
It can be difficult to change behavior so that LinkedIn becomes part of your regular sales activity. This is especially true if your goals for LinkedIn are unclear, and there is no strategy or plan. It can feel like it’s becoming a tread-mill of useless activity. If this is the case it’s time to re-focus. Random Content to Random People in Random Places is often the root cause of poor results and growing disillusion.
Business success is often dependent on ‘Showing-up’. If you’re part of a business network group that meets locally then it’s important to ‘show-up’ to the meetings. So it is with LinkedIn. It’s the biggest business network in the world, and there’s plenty of opportunity out there. However it can seem like a needle in a hay-stack, without goals and a plan.
Having a plan and ‘showing-up’ will move you much closer to new opportunities, and to buyers who are taking a different approach to finding suppliers. A few good inquiries, a referral or two, an invitation to bid that seemingly came from no-where are all possible.
Celebrate Successes – no matter how small
Changing habits and behaviours while practicing and perfecting new skills is incredibly tough.
That’s why in most sports people who want to improve will find and pay for a coach.
If you’re trying to make improvements on your own then at least set yourself up for success.
Through this first month especially – Write down and then Celebrate Successes!
Track the changes in key metrics such as number of contacts and your Social Selling Index.
Have a simple chart or table by your computer, on your noticeboard or whiteboard.
And above all, write down the conversations and meetings you created as a result of positive action.
This will create the foundation for successful Social Selling.
To your success!
Moving forward with LinkedIn Lead Generation
When you’ve mastered the foundations, by following the 4 week plan above, you’ll be in a strong position to then add additional strategies over the top, to boost your leads and enquiries.
Do you have particular techniques that have helped you to get started with LinkedIn and Social Selling that you’d like to share?
LinkedIn Consultation Call
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For personalised advice and guidance why not book a telephone review for 20 minutes of 1:1 consultancy with me, Mark Stonham. Save time and boost results with my recommendations.