Have you found yourself spending more time than usual on LinkedIn within the last couple of months? I know I have. Much of that has to do with the recent changes that the company has rolled out which has improved usability and is encouraging users to spend more time actively participating within the platform.
LinkedIn should be viewed as a tool for marketers to connect with other professionals or companies in a meaningful way, not a platform for shouting your marketing message at unsuspecting victims.
For example, you wouldn’t approach a table full of professionals at a networking event that you don’t know and open up with “Buy my B2B marketing automation software! It will save you time and money.” Talk about open mouth and insert foot. I’m sure we can all agree that a first interaction like the one mentioned above would likely squash any chance of having a meaningful interaction with your new connections.
It’s easy for us to forget best practices for interacting on social platforms. This article serves as a refresher course for marketers looking to improve engagement on LinkedIn.
1 – Form Real Relationships
Have you ever gotten a phone call, answered it, and realized it was a pre-recorded message? Believe me, I know from experience that no matter how many times you yell back at the recording, it wont respond (or stop talking).
On the other end of that pined for LinkedIn connection is a human, and there are certain things that make them tick. It’s your job to find out just what that is.
Apply your general marketing best practices and remember that you’re in the business of getting to know people, and determining how THEY prefer to interact. These relationships take time and effort to establish. You want to create a dialogue that is tailored to a specific individual, not broadcast a one-size-fits-all canned marketing message.
2 – Reach Out To Customers
Connecting with customers individual profiles and following their company updates on LinkedIn (as well as other social networks) is a fantastic opportunity to stay up to date on any changes within the organization, and learn more about the individuals that you work with on a daily basis.
Say for example that you’re browsing your LinkedIn feed while drinking your morning cup of coffee and read that Teresa from ABC marketing (your favorite client) wrote “The heat went out in our building this week, it’s going to be a cold one!”
Chances are the next time you talk to Teresa, you’ll share that you heard her building was without heat and express concern for how she’s doing. Or better yet, send her an inexpensive but thoughtful care package from your team with a blanket and slippers to keep her warm. Sometimes it’s the small stuff that makes a big difference.
3 – Thank Your Team For Being Awesome
Even though we’ve discussed the dangers of blatant brand boasting, there is an opportunity to utilize LinkedIn to share information on company accomplishments. Say your team broke a record or goal you set for yourself, hired a new rock star employee, or participated in a community event that you would like to share.
Let’s face it, most people like to be recognized for their accomplishments. Sam and Rob from your Account Management team will most likely appreciate being included in an update from their boss. This could be as simple as posting “Thank you to Sam and Rob for going the extra mile to keep their clients happy. Join our team congratulating them for a job well done!” can put a smile on the face of your employees, attract job seekers, and show prospective clients that you aren’t afraid to thank your team for having an impact.
4 – Identify Common Contacts
How did you meet your circle of friends? One might venture to guess that some of them were friends of friends who were introduced to the group, and eventually you exchanged phone numbers and began seeing them more often.
LinkedIn’s privacy settings may make it difficult to connect with people within companies that you haven’t worked with previously, or met in person. Before sending out a blind connect request, see whom you might know in common. You could either ask that person if they wouldn’t mind introducing you, or mention in your invite that you happen to know someone in common.
When making first contact with someone who may not know you, try to identify a hook. Perhaps you attending the same business school and could share an anecdote about your time there, or maybe they live in San Francisco and you’ve always wanted to visit. Find a way to relate to your audience and your chances of a successful connection are much greater.
5 – Use Groups To Interact
LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers contain a wealth of insight for individuals and businesses. Based on your profile preferences and connections, LinkedIn has a list of “Groups You May Like” that can be accessed directly from the “Groups” tab within LinkedIn.
If you’re an online marketer it would make sense to join groups such as “Strategies and Tips on Social Media Marketing” or “Online Marketing Professionals Group”, the options are nearly limitless.
Don’t be afraid to pose a question. Monitor and participate in groups (without being phony or overly sales focused) that have potential to open up conversations with prospective customers. Also, LinkedIn displays how active specific groups are, how many members there are, as well as if anyone within your existing network is part of the group.
6 – Recommendations Are A Gold Mine
Think of LinkedIn Recommendations as a place to share references with potential customers and contacts. What do you have to show for all of your hard work?
Say your team has just landed a huge deal for your organization. Of course you’re interested in the new revenue this will bring for your company, but you’re also going to thrive from the positive feedback your new customer shares about their experience with you.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers if they would mind sharing a recommendation for you on LinkedIn. If they’re busy, offer to draft it yourself so all they have to do is make minor edits and post it on your profile.
Another great way to begin getting more recommendations for your work is to write great recommendations for other professionals that you have had the privilege of working with in the past. Chances are, they will likely return the favor.
7 – LinkedIn Endorsements Only A Click Away
LinkedIn’s new Endorsements feature allows uses to recognize connections for a particular skill set or area of expertise. It’s as simple as clicking a button, or recommending a short phrase. If you’re looking for an easy way to shine a light on the professionals in your network, endorse via this new LinkedIn feature.
When you make an endorsement of someone’s skill set, they receive a notification, which lets them know that you think that they are awesome at “Online Marketing” or “Social Media Strategy” or “Playing Guitar”. Once you’ve shown a little endorsement love, you’re connections will receive a notification which encourages they do the same.
What do all of these tips teach us (other than how to network like a pro)? Whatever your goals for professional networking may be, you have to give to get. We’ve also learned that connecting with customers can provide a wealth of insight, and inspire confidence in your work.
If you’re going to invest the time in utilizing a platform like LinkedIn, do it right. And remember, shouting marketing messages at your connections is likely to have them running for the hills, ruining any chance of a potential connection with them in the future.
Image provided via Shutterstock.