There are many strategies, techniques and tips for lead generation using LinkedIn covered elsewhere on this Wurlwind website.
While there is much to like about LinkedIn, these 7 improvements would make LinkedIn a much better lead generation platform for me and my clients.
Which of these LinkedIn improvements would you find useful, and what enhancements would you like to see?
NB. This initial list was from December 2013. I’ve reviewed and commented on changes in March 2014.
1. Status Updates sent by people made visible on their profile page
Very good work-around using Nimble CRM available. See below.
On the profile of a contact or someone in my network I’d like to be able to see what Status Updates they’ve posted. This would help me to decide whether to contact or connect with them, and provide valuable insight and topics to contact them about. This would create new opportunities so that I can make contact and build sales relationships, and contribute enormously to better lead generation.
This is equivalent to the Facebook Timeline, Twitter Tweets display and Google+ Posts display.
If LinkedIn added a TAB alongside Relationship and Contact Info (as illustrated below) this would be a good way to achieve this.
NB. You can see these using NIMBLE CRM under the Social Streams Tab. See screenshot below for Jon Ferrara – Nimble CEO.
2. Company Updates filter to display updates posted by companies I follow
Visible from Interests/Companies from main menu.
Currently, Company Status Updates appear in my Home Feed, along with updates from people I am connected with, and LinkedIn generated updates like Pulse and advertising. It’s impractical for me to keep a constant eye on Home Feed updates. Going specifically to each Company Page in turn is also impractical.
The Companies filter currently shows which contacts of mine have recently followed a company. While interesting, this is not what I want to see, and not what I believe LinkedIn intend either, from some of their documentation. This looks to me like a bug.
The effect of this means that Following companies has limited value. Although I follow over 100 companies and would like to find triggers and opportunities to contact them when something relevant comes up, I cannot do this productively. And, until this is resolved, there is limited value in me building up the followers of Wurlwind and posting as many status updates as I might otherwise, since few people will see them.
If the Companies filter showed a list of the recent Status Updates from ALL the companies I follow this would create engagement opportunities. This would be the equivalent of creating a List in Twitter containing companies and viewing the Tweet stream of that List. This would increase the value of posting Status Updates about our companies, and create better lead generation potential.
NB. You can see updates from Companies you Follow under Interests/Companies from the main menu.
3. Filter Status Updates by TAG group
Still unresolved in March 2014
The ability to create Tag Groups in LinkedIn is useful, to a point. It is a good way to segment contacts, such as Customers, Prospects, Advocates and so on. Periodically I send an email broadcast to up to 50 people in a Tag Group, with some news and updates.
However, I’d also like to be able to see the Status Updates posted by people in some of these Tag Groups. For example, what have people in my LinkedIn Gurus Tag Group posted recently? Currently it’s not possible to see status updates filtered by a specific Tag Group in LinkedIn.
The Group Filter displayed below is not the same, but illustrates the value of seeing what contributions my contacts have made into Groups, which can create engagement opportunities.
If I could filter Status Updates by TAG Group it would be a huge incentive to create more Tag Groups and categorise more of my contacts. This would be the equivalent of creating a List in Twitter, assigning profiles to that list, and then viewing the Tweets made by people on that list.
It would also be an incentive to invest time to produce higher value content, in order to be added to other people’s TAG groups, and be read more often.
4. See the About Company description more easily
Resolved by March 2014
When I search on LinkedIn to find a company and I usually want to read the descriptive ‘About us’ section. This can be frustrating though.
The Company Page Redesign in 2012 put the About Us description below the Company Status Updates. If the company is not posting Status Updates the description is plain to see. However, where companies are posting regular status updates they are automatically refreshed as I scroll to the bottom of the list. This means that the description can take time to reach, after several refreshes of the status updates.
A quicker way to view the Company Description would be helpful in order to find, assess and short-list potential suppliers or potential prospect companies for better lead generation. It would also encourage better quality About Us sections and improve the overall quality of Company information in LinkedIn.
NB. LinkedIn has resolved this one by returning the Company Description to the Top of the Company Page display.
5. Search by Product/Service
Still not provided by March 2014
The ability to search specifically within the Product/Service section would be a big encouragement for people to use LinkedIn search more. If LinkedIn added a Product/Service option to the Search by Drop-down it would be easy to search deeper into the specific solutions that I and others are looking for. It would also encourage companies to list their products and services, and to gain recommendations.
I feel that this would create a huge opportunity for better lead generation for companies who took the time to list their products and services. This would be even stronger if the product and service pages ranked as highly in Google as the personal profiles do.
6. Filter contacts by Industry Sector for better lead generation
Still not provided by March 2014
There are several ways I use to filter contacts currently. Location is a good one, such as Bristol UK below. I’ve used this as the starting point to sub-divide my Bristol contacts into TAG groups. It also helps me to contact people in another town, for example to arrange a second meeting once the one is secured, to gain a double benefit from the time and cost of travel.
However, there is currently no option to filter by Sector. This used to be possible, before the Contacts area was redesigned.
The advantage of a Filter by Sector for better lead generation is to be more targeted about communication and messaging that is specifically related to that sector. If, for example I had just won a sale into a sector I could more easily start prospecting for similar companies if I could filter my contacts by sector. I could then select some to add to a new TAG group, send out a relevant LinkedIn email broadcast, follow-up and develop the number of contacts and strength of relationships within that sector.
7. More Open API for better lead generation using specific applications
Still not provided by March 2014 – and LinkedIn may actually be reducing the API interfaces.
Integration between Apps has become very important, especially in the sales and marketing area. There is so much innovation going on that it’s vital for niche and mainstream apps to be open for integration. Apps should allow data and content to be read and perhaps written, and enable processes to be designed that flow from one app into the next and so on.
With LinkedIn, some integration is certainly possible. For example, Status Updates to my LinkedIn Profile and LinkedIn Page can be pre-scheduled in Hootsuite and in BufferApp. I find the Prospector app from SalesLoft very useful, to build a prospect list from LinkedIn Search results rapidly.
The recently available Nimble Widget for Hootsuite, Gmail and Outlook, for example, illustrates what can be done to support sales users and help them to develop better lead generation processes by linking different communications channels and crm applications together.
While LinkedIn has made big steps to be a personal contacts organiser there are still big opportunities for better lead generation capability for people in sales teams using LinkedIn. Better and more Open APIs from LinkedIn will pave the way for better integration with more third party applications such as Hootsuite and Nimble.
These are the improvement areas that I’d like to see LinkedIn come up with.
If you’ve found a way around these, or have your own ideas then please add your comments and suggestions below.