How LinkedIn Can Generate Qualified Leads
Marketers are increasingly looking to LinkedIn as a content distribution channel. But can you really generate leads using LinkedIn? Does participating in groups pay off? A decisive “Yes,” says Marc W. Halpert, LinkedIn Trainer and Evangelist. But like everything else, it does take some effort.
According to Halpert, “There are 277+ million business professionals on LinkedIn. If you work it properly, you can demonstrate your value proposition, your core commitment to the industry and bring marketing attention on WHY YOU vs. the competition. This takes time and work, but the dividends are immensely rewarding.” In order to gain qualified leads, there are two areas that require some work:
1. Differentiate your brand so that anybody looking for what you have to offer will want to learn more
2. Leverage your groups to reach your target market by being a subject expert to a question that is being asked or discussed
Area #1 – Your Profile=Your Brand
Here’s the key to success. First you must differentiate your brand so that it connects with prospects and customers. Talk about your business (and yourself) in ways that will reach and engage with real people. There are four places on your LinkedIn profile that give you the opportunity to do this.
1. Headline next to your name. Make sure the headline is fascinating and memorable. If you don’t, you will have missed a great opportunity. Saying “VP of Operations” is boring. Saying “The Go-To Person for Streamlining Operations, Using Technology and Saving Money” is fascinating.
2. Updates. Updating with compelling, valuable information is critical in establishing your business as a brand or a resource. Never use this space to tell people where you went to dinner or your family vacation. Share observations, articles you like, comments and questions that provoke conversation.
3. Summary. This is where you talk about yourself; let people see who you are. For some, this means getting over a fear of revealing personal information. But the more prospects feel like they know you, the more they will get insight into what it would be like to work with you. If they like what they read, they will be more inclined to respond when you reach out.
4. Experience. Describe your business experience, how you provide value, and how you are different from the competition. Use this space to really show off your brand.
All of this preliminary work is a game-changer when you catch the attention of a prospect in your target market, and he or she looks at your profile before making contact. Your profile will be the key that tells him or her whether to continue the conversation – or not.
Area #2 – Your Groups
“Groups are a great way to brand yourself as an expert to anyone in the group who wants to learn,” says Halpert. “But it’s important to offer expertise, information and guidance, and never sell.”
Here are five factors for leveraging your group activity into new business.
1. Choose your groups carefully. Join any that focus on industries where you are currently working or would like to penetrate.
2. Once you join, spend some time noticing the conversation threads, particularly any problems that you may be able to solve. You can post questions and read responses. You will pick up a lot of good data on what’s going on in the industry and the key points of pain.
3. When a conversation emerges that is within your area of expertise, offer help from a “giving place”; never sell. This is really a great way to demonstrate your brand’s expertise to anyone who wants to learn. Make sure whatever you post is compelling and valuable.
4. There is nothing wrong with addressing your comments directly to one individual, right within the group – particularly if it seems that person has a lot of questions and really wants to learn.
5. If it seems appropriate, suggest an off-line conversation.
A colleague of ours did exactly this and won a new client. But first she spent a substantial amount of time making sure she made her profile powerful and competitive, establishing her brand within the group, and generously offered information and counsel without any immediate thought of making a sale.
And a final word from Halpert, “If you don’t differentiate your brand on LinkedIn, you’re just another box of cereal on the aisle in the grocery store. You want people to pick YOUR box off the shelf, read it carefully AND BUY IT.”
Insights and ideas provided by
Marc W. Halpert, LinkedIn Trainer and Evangelist
PO Box 320048, Fairfield, CT 06825-0048
His LinkedIn profile can be seen at www.linkedin.com/in/marchalpert