The LinkedIn Tutors

Build your business with LinkedIn


LinkedIn connections are human beings too!

It’s always worth reminding ourselves that LinkedIn is a way to foster your relationships with other living, breathing human beings – with all their uniqueness, their sensitivities and their social expectations. If you want to relate well with valuable contacts and clients, you need to treat them with the kind of respect, consideration and social grace that you yourself would expect as a client or potential client.

Earlier this month Liz Ryan wrote an excellent piece about the ” several jarring ways in which LinkedIn makes clear that its product folks don’t understand how real people operate.” She picks out five particular examples of how this otherwise excellent online business networking tool doesn’t quite grasp what Ryan calls “the soft and squishy side of online networking and collaboration.”

It’s worth being careful, therefore, about how you use the many tools and functions that LinkedIn provides. Before you press that invitation button, request that recommendation, or publish that comment, think to yourself:

  • Would I say it, or do it, like this if I were talking with someone in person, or on the phone?
  • How would I feel if someone spoke to me or treated me this way?
  • Is there a better way of doing this that this particular person would prefer?

Along these lines, for example, it’s worth thinking about who you accept as connections if you haven’t met them, and how you ask for a connection with people you haven’t met. Kristen Burnham has written about when to accept or reject connections, and offers some tips on which connections to accept and what to do when you yourself approach someone you don’t know.

For professionals, LinkedIn is a great technical aid for growing your business, but at the end of the day that business growth will depend on having solid, long-lasting relationships with flesh-and-blood human beings.

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Generating sales in professional services using LinkedIn

How do you get the best out of LinkedIn to generate sales in professional services?

For a great starting point, check out this blog on using LinkedIn for sales prospecting from Anna Bratton at Salesforce.

I particularly like her advice on using LinkedIn’s advanced search function well:

“By intelligently mixing the different filters you can get really deep and identify key individuals quickly and easily….You can also save your search criteria and get a weekly report listing anyone new who matches the customers you’re looking for.”

And she also explains how it’s possible to map the decision makers within target companies:

“You’d be surprised how much people put in their profiles – which team they’re in, which office they work out of, what projects they’re focusing on. With a little detective work, you can quickly build up a picture of who you should be talking to, what they’re like (check out their recommendations) and what they’ve done before.”

Great advice – in professional services, it clearly makes sense to use these ways to find the specific individuals you want to talk with and their role in any decision to engage your services. I’ll be talking about these and other ideas in my next workshop on Using LinkedIn as a Business Development and Marketing Tool.


Secret of social media – amplify the voices of others

There is a thoughtful blog on making the best use of social media for marketing on LinkedIn’s new ‘thought leaders’ pages from Tim O’Reilly, founder of the publishing and event company O’Reilly. The key nugget, I think, is his belief in the value of amplifying the voices of others, particularly in a community where you share common interests, rather than simply shouting about yourself or trying to get others to tout your services:

In short, the secret of promotion in the age of social media isn’t to promote yourself.  It’s to promote others.  Success comes when your success depends on the success of your customers, your suppliers, your end-users, and when you spend more of your time thinking about them than about yourself.

It’s an inspiring perspective, and it fits well with age-old practices of successful human networking through helping others to make connections. How could you make use of this principle in the way you use LinkedIn (for example how you take part in LinkedIn Groups) and your other social media activities?


LinkedIn lead generation: ‘the warm handshake we all need’

If you’re considering using online marketing channels, which is best for generating sales leads?

According to a study by Hubspot earlier this year, LinkedIn is almost 3 times more effective than Twitter or Facebook for converting more website visitors into leads. The data are based on using organic networks (including LinkedIn groups), not on pay-per-click advertising through these channels.

The results are a little complicated by the mix of B2B and B2C companies studied, and it doesn’t reveal what sort of organic marketing worked best within, for example, LinkedIn – whether it was using groups, company pages, personal pages, email, or other means. From the comments at the Hubspot blog, it seems different people have different results, but some of this may depend on having used advertising rather than organic networking, and it may also be that LinkedIn is more useful if you are trying to target specific professionals with a specific service they need, rather than a broader group of consumers.

As one commenter puts it: “LinkedIn is the warm handshake we all need.”

For professional services businesses, developing a thoughtful and sustained approach to networking in LinkedIn should be a key part of your business development efforts. I’ll be talking more about that at my workshop later this month in London on Using LinkedIn as a Business Development and Marketing Tool.


LinkedIn: new design for company pages

LinkedIn has now rolled out a new design for its company pages to all users, and it’s worth taking a look at your company page – if you have one – and using some of the new design features to give your page some added flair and update followers on your products or services.

In particular you may want to make use of:

  • New headline banners. These offer you the chance to add some images that communicate your brand and message visually.
  • Status Update feature. This gives you the opportunity to communicate with the people who look at your company page or even better ‘follow’ your company page – it can be updated with news, offers, events, etc. Visitors to your company page can like, comment or share your status updates so these messages can be spread virally.

Company pages, in addition to your personal profile, are a great way to generate sales leads. Among other things, you should consider:

  • Updating the page often to ensure people who follow your company receive new information.
  • Creating high-quality banner images of your products, services or offers – these can be clicked to take potential clients to your own web site.
  • Encouraging clients to recommend any of the products and services you show on the company page.

There is more information on the new design, from LinkedIn.