LinkedWin LogoThe Skills and Experience section of LinkedIn is a valuable resource to help sales people and business owners, not just job seekers and recruiters.

Two areas in particular are those that help you FIND PROSPECTS and to BE FOUND BY POTENTIAL BUYERS.

The Skills section in LinkedIn is a valuable research tool in two ways.

  • The first is for Keyword Research
  • The second for Market Potential

Finding Potential Customers in LinkedIn.

The starting point is ‘Who is your ideal customer?’

You might define this based on Geography, Sector, Job Position and other dimensions.

You may also define your buyers as having certain skills.

Let’s say you were selling to the Print sector, a search for the skill ‘Print’ produces the following result.

LinkedIn Print Skills Screenshot

Looking at the various parts of the results, including those below the screenshot, we can see:

  • there are 960k people who list the ‘Print’ skill in their profile – which is a good starting point for assessing market size and potential. As an example of other areas where we might start to look for potential buyers include Sales Management (2m), Human Resources (2m), Marketing Management (400k), Directors (261k), IT Management (248k) and Accountants (120k).
  • other associated phrases and skills on the left – provides additional drill-down into specific areas that may be a closer match for you
  • Top ranked professionals listing this skill – who you might want to connect with and follow, and see who they are connected to (or who has connected to them)
  • Top companies employing people with those skills – who might be your top target prospects
  • Groups containing members listing those skills – which you might want to join and participate in, if you aren’t already there
  • Print Jobs – indicating companies with a skills shortage and additional information in their job advert
  • Related locations – to indicate geographies you may want to mount campaigns into

Making notes as you go through, and taking action, will give you the foundation for a campaign to make contact with companies and individuals.

Take these skill areas and enter them into the People Search, use the Advanced Search function to refine the search by area and level etc. and Save your primary Searches (you can save 3).

This will surely increase your prospect list and sales pipeline.

Being Found in LinkedIn

As a sales person or business owner you will have considerable expertise in your market sector. Adding these skills to your profile on LinkedIn will increase the likelihood that you are found by people looking for your skills and problem solving abilities, and will position you as an expert when they read your profile.

Identify specific skills from those you’ve found above and add them to your profile with a click. You can add 50 skill areas to your profile, so it makes sense to take advantage of this.

Consider adding a mix of skills appropriate to your expertise and your positioning:

  • Top level or single word phrases – these are fairly broad, but it does mean if someone refines the search down to your town or city you have a good chance of showing up in the results. From the example above the words ‘Print’, ‘Repro’ and ‘Imposition’ would be examples.
  • Second level or two word phrases – these are more specific and start to show your expertise. ‘Print Management’, ‘Offset Printing’ and ‘Large Format’ are examples.
  • Third level or three word phrases – these really clarify your specialisations and position you as an expert. Print Production Process and Web-to-Print are examples here.

Once you’ve selected and added skills to your profile, re-arrange your skills listed so that your primary skills appear at the beginning. This will make an impact on the human reader when they look at your profile. It is also likely that LinkedIn will prompt people to endorse those skills, making it more likely that you will build up endorsements for your primary skills.

Adding your key skills to your LinkedIn profile so you rank well

Adding the skills to the Skills area alone is not going to get you good rankings within LinkedIn.

There are 6 areas where these key words and phrases should appear in order that LinkedIn will rank you well in it’s search results.

These six areas are:

  • Your headline
  • Present and Past Position headlines
  • Your summary
  • You Specialities
  • Job descriptions for current and previous job
  • Skills section (covered above)

Take an hour or so to review your profile against the keywords and phrases you’ve identified above. Add them into your profile in the appropriate places. Then check after a few days that you are appearing when you do relevant searches.

Top 5 skills listed in LinkedIn

As I researched this article I found a list of top skills from 2010. At that time the top of the list was fairly technical skills. The first was Customer Service, then HTML, MS EXCEL, JAVA, Negotiation, C++, Javascript, MS Office, Photoshop, and CSS.

Since then the number of business skills listed by people has increased considerably, pushing these results above down the ranking. The technical skills have about 1m listings now, Negotiation is 30th with 3m, MS Excel and Office are 11th and 7th with 4m and Customer Service 8th with 4m.

The Top 5 in reverse order now are:

5. Marketing – 5 million

4. Sales – 5 million

3. Client (as in Client/Server) – 6 million

2. Business – 6 million

1. Management – 9 million

This list will change over time. However, updating your skills profile now will help with your lead generation. And, as other people join and update their skills profiles you will be able to revisit the searches to find yet more potential customers.

This is a VERY exciting time to be developing skills on LinkedIn, to support lead generation, business development and to find new customers.