Get Started with LinkedIn and Social Selling – try this 5 step plan

LinkedIn logo - how to get started with LinkedInIf you’re looking for guidance on how to get started with LinkedIn and Social Selling, here is a basic plan to help you get you going with the 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.

You can use this plan for the next 4 weeks, even if your LinkedIn Personal Profile is weak and if you don’t have many LinkedIn connections yet.

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.

Get started with LinkedIn using these 5 steps

Here are 5 basic steps to help you get started with LinkedIn.

1. Connect with CURRENT customers and prospects

This is low hanging fruit and nursery slopes activity. These people already know, like and trust you. You’re also ‘closer to the money’ with these people. Sales deals are easier with current customers and people already in your deal pipeline, than with new business. However, if your territory is pure new name accounts then identify introducers and collaborators to research and get started with them.

Start with say 20-25 people as the first batch you’ll work on, to make it manageable. You can learn from what some of them are doing, and take a lead with others who are new to LinkedIn.

2. Understand your customers and prospects better

Read through their LinkedIn profiles, their work history and previous companies, their professional qualifications, their interests and so on. See which groups they belong to. See which people they are connected with, and the companies they work for. Do they contribute into LinkedIn, with status updates and group posts, likes, comments and shares on other people’s status updates. Note: You may need to request to connect and be accepted before you can see all their profile details. Email or Phone them to move things along.

Categorise their LinkedIn activity as A or B, for Active or Basic. Identify any common clusters such as companies they’ve worked for, groups they belong to, and skills they have. From the Active group, see if you can identify any common issues they face. Note: An EXCEL or WORD table, or a large sheet of paper marked as a table might help you record details.

3. Start to reach out with some relevant messages

A mix of Likes and Shares on their status updates, emails to them through LinkedIn, your status updates and comments and discussions into groups will start the interaction with your target audience and raise your profile wider.

Find some quality articles on the key topics you identified earlier written by your company and third parties. Start to share this with your target contacts. The LinkedIn Browser Bookmarklet for Firefix is very handy, (the Chrome one seems broken). 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 to develop sales relationships

Once you’ve done the research, spend 15-30 minutes in LinkedIn on a regular (daily) basis to developing relationships, building your network and raising your profile, based on the task areas below. Lunchtime is quite good as it’s not prime time and, in my experience, people tend to interact more on Social Media then.

In descending order, the daily priority tasks that I teach are:

1. Nurture current conversations

Having started a dialogue don’t let it go cold. However, do have a goal and/or next step in mind; ask to schedule a phone call, suggest they register for a webinar, or send a  link to download an article are 3 that work well.

2. Engage with people you attract

Check who viewed your profile and invite them to connect with you. Look back at their profile and send a personalised message focused on your core expertise area. Ask them what they were looking for when they visited your profile. It’s a good way to generate an acceptance and a response.

3. Find prospects/opportunities

Find and connect with say 10 people a week in your prospect category. Whether you identify them as connections of connections, in groups you’ve joined, as ‘profiles/companies people also viewed’ or through advanced search will depend on your unique situation. Try each method for a day and see which works best for you. If you’re a Business Owners you may well err more to personal contacts. If you’re a Quota Salespeople will probably err more to LinkedIn Search.

4. Raise your profile

There are several ways you can do this, but the one with most reach and impact is starting a topical discussion (one based on your specific area of expertise where you want to become a trusted advisor) in an active group where your prospects are. Adding valuable comments into discussions started by relevant thought-leaders is also effective. Add a few Likes and Comments into Status Updates in your Home Feed is a good way to get someones attention. And after you’ve given you LinkedIn profile a good make-over, add to it and make changes once a month to keep improving it and gaining visibility.

5. Set yourself realistic goals

Identify achievable targets for Time, Activity and Results, so you’re tracking input, process and outcome. For example:

  • In the first week you can investigate 20-25 profiles in 5-10 minutes each, so that’s 2-3 hours, and if they weren’t already connections you’ve grown your network by 20.
  • In the second week you can identify 3 relevant articles and send each of them to each target person by LinkedIn Email and follow-up with a phone call to see if they’re willing to develop a discussion about how that topic affects their business.
  • In the third week you might reach out and connect with 10 more people, using the different approaches above, while also maintaining contact and nurturing those from the first weeks (that’s why nurture is #1 priority).
  • In the fourth week you might decide to update your LinkedIn Profile to include your keywords so you are more likely to be found. Start a discussion in 3 groups where your prospects are likely to be, and respond when other people contribute. And connect with 10 more people in addition to maintaining conversations with those you made contact with in the first 3 weeks.

Make LinkedIn part of your daily sales activity

A lot of people ask me “How do you keep going once you’ve made the effort to get started with LinkedIn?”

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.

 

And through this first month, don’t forget to Write down and then Celebrate Successes!

This will create the foundation for successful Social Selling.

Do you have particular techniques that have helped you to get started with LinkedIn and Social Selling that you’d like to share?

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One Response to Get Started with LinkedIn and Social Selling – try this 5 step plan

  1. Garret Roan May 15, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

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