LinkedIn is the world’s leading professional online networking platform. We’ve all heard about it. Most of us use it. But what do we get from it?
“After a nearly a year of focused effort on creating content specifically for LinkedIn, weeks on weeks of thinking about what I could strategically piece together for a good blast at leveraging the “power of LinkedIn” to grow my business and … I’m left underwhelmed”.
“You see everyone keeps telling me about this amazing power that drives LinkedIn. How people get loads of business from it. How they don’t have any real strategy for their content, they just post stuff on the go and business flows from it.
Maybe these people are early adopters of the platform and have a massive following where their net is cast so far and wide that naturally, by law of averages they will catch something off the back of their content. Maybe it is because what they have is so desirable that everyone wants a piece of their action in one way or another.
But even these super-successful ‘LinkedIn-ers’ aren’t on there to buy.
They’re on there to sell.
We all are. I don’t go onto LinkedIn to buy my groceries or my ink for my printer. I’ll go to Tesco, Amazon or one of my IT suppliers for that. I go onto LinkedIn to promote my business and sell. Just like everyone else”.
“What I’ve learned from the last year of focused effort is to not even try to sell on there because you are literally pushing water uphill! People just aren’t interested at all if you make a connection and immediately start trying to sell to them.
I’ve started to use LinkedIn as an extended portfolio platform and a way of demonstrating my professionalism to a wider network of connections. People buy from people and while they may not be primed to buy on LinkedIn right away, they may well be in the future once they get to know you a bit more. Because of this LinkedIn has become a research ground for me.
I’ve recently relocated my graphic design business to Salisbury in Wiltshire. Being so new to the area, I’ve started to use LinkedIn to research companies in the local area who I’d potentially like to work with and find out who works there and who I’d need to talk to about providing graphic design and marketing services. You could call it a bit of ‘professional stalking’!
LinkedIn is good because so many professional people use it for the right reasons. They are all on it to try and sell and although I’ve been critical of the platform because nobody is there to buy, everyone using it is there in a professional capacity. This means that you are far less likely to get trolled or attacked on LinkedIn for sharing some content in good faith.
This one of the reasons that I’ve distanced my business from a healthy Facebook page with some legitimate 1500+ followers. I have become increasingly frustrated with Facebook as a platform and the users on it. I’ve not experienced any real hostility, negativity or trolling on my business page there but I’ve seen so many pages suffer from user outrage towards content shared on Facebook.
It is such a toxic environment with hate, trolling and keyboard attacks never far away. Also, the way Facebook is used doesn’t really suit my business. People are on that platform in a personal capacity, catching up with old school friends, watching videos and killing time basically. Here in this online environment, they are relaxed and not looking for content in a professional capacity at all. In sales terms, Facebook traffic for Design Pit is very much ‘unqualified lead material’.
Tyre kickers that just aren’t the right fit for this business.
In fact, some of the worst enquiries we’ve ever had at Design Pit have come through Facebook! Inbox messages that start, ‘how much for a logo mate?’ or ‘whats it cost for a website?’. These sorts of questions make the unqualified nature of the enquiry so easy to spot and confirming the wrong type of business for Design Pit to be talking to or working with. When an enquiry comes in and the immediate opening line of enquiry is focused cost, then it really isn’t for us.
This makes it easy to put our online efforts onto LinkedIn. We can be sure that anyone we talk to on LinkedIn is much more prepared to talk about what we really do to help clients, what level of service we provide while working on projects, in-depth approach to different design briefs, how we map out strategic plans across different media, narrative development and so on and so forth. They don’t start with ‘how will it cost and what do I get for it?’.
So although LinkedIn is a marathon and not a sprint in terms of sales process, it is definitely the right environment for a B2B company to be in.
And my top tips for using it are pretty simple…
- Make your content interesting. And don’t be afraid to show some of your personality in the tone of voice you use with your content. People buy from people.
- Make connection requests with the right people. Use the platform to research companies you’d like to work with and find the right contact to talk to.
- Do not sell. Above all else, don’t open with some sales-pitch when you connect with people. Take time to build rapport with your connections and don’t sell until the time is right.
- Share content from your prospects, contacts and colleagues. In helping others spread their word, they are far more likely to return the favour in the future.
- Post at the right times. Look to Google for information on when the platform is more widely used and post when more of your connections are online. This will give you a much greater reach with your content.