Yesterday I was giving a full day Advanced Workshop/Presentation to the Sales Institute of Ireland on Social Selling Through LinkedIn. It was being run in the absolutely gorgeous newly renovated rooms in the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Lots of light, huge airy room, massive screen, great coffee and pastries and then I had to teach Top Sales People with enormous monthly quotas how to Sell through #LinkedIn.
Here is my problem – I have been training companies for years in how to use LinkedIn through NOT selling!
However, I am so convinced of the power of doing business through LinkedIn that I decided to bring that knowledge to the table and turn it slightly on its ear. So, instead of “Selling” we worked on how to focus on warm introductions and recommendations and on how to get these prospects to arrive in your sales funnel at a much higher lever than the normal entry point. Here’s a little bit of what we covered.
People Do Business with People
It is human nature to chat, hang out or even do business with people you can personally connect with. Research shows B2B decision-makers count their interactions with salespeople as the major determinant of whom they choose – more than product quality, brand reputation and pricing combined! That means that if you, as the sales person, can give your buyer a personal hook to connect with you’re already ahead of the game.
I asked all the participants to tell me a bit about themselves at the start of the course yesterday. No one had ever met before. Everyone told me who they worked for, their title and what their company was famous for supplying. I asked each one again “Anything else you want to tell us?” Again, they told me the company had been operating for X years and employed X number of people. I was nearly dying inside!
Finally someone told me they were building a house… The room erupted… “Oh My God It;’s SO stressful!” “Do you have a good electrician?” “Where are you getting your bathroom?” “My brother has just finished here’s what he learned” “Here;s the number of a great painter”…. We had noise and conversations and numbers being exchanged. Simply because there was a Personal Hook people could easily relate to. How easy was that? We were having conversations, advice and information were being exchanged, everyone was engaged.
Now… How is that any different to LinkedIn? You MUST create Conversations, Exchange Information and Advice and Be Engaged! That is the core to any successful Sales Funnel. Give me something to connect with, show me some personality in your copy, some flair. That personal engagement will ensure that you are personally connected to your contact. That in turn means that they will come to you for information and advice, engage with your posted content and become the solution to their problems.
There are many ways you can do that on LinkedIn. The first, is to ensure your profile and the Summary piece especially are full of personality, watch your voice in your writing. You want them to be able to hear you speak when they read your Summary. They’ll only read the first couple of lines though (no time!) so make sure it is clear – What you do, who you serve and your value to them. All in the first 3 lines of your summary.
It is NOT a CV, do not mention that you’re experienced, motivated, a team player, self starter… these are all taken for granted now. Make yourself Stand Out. Show Passion. Tell Stories!
Make sure that you know very specifically who you are selling to, what their worries are and what solution they will value from you. Then fill the rest of your (2000 characters) summary with Keywords (Google Adwords, Tools – Keyword Planner) scripted into your key messages aimed at that specific audience with those specific problems (see below for campaigns). Don’t forget to put in a recommendation here. Use all the space. Show your personality!
I often change my summary depending on the specific work campaign Redstorm is running. So, I am often working to attract different target audiences with a different set of values. SMEs looking for an internal Marketing Department, websites and branding; Bluechips looking for LinkedIn Training or Personal Branding for their top tier executives – I advise everyone to open and save a word/pages document and spend time writing a couple of headlines and summaries based on their main key targets so it’s then easy to switch between them depending on your business focus at the time. I’m not suggesting you appear psychotic! Just tweaking the message and keywords to appear in different search results is incredibly effective.
The very first piece of real estate anyone sees in LinkedIn is your cover graphic and photo. So why did everyone bar one yesterday have the LinkedIn blue graphic? You need to Stand Out – Change the graphic! Use Canva to design a header graphic with your company colours and message of the month or campaign message on it. Change it regularly! Here’s mine:
It makes it really easy to see what I do. I have a clear smiling photo that shows my personality – you get a feeling for what it would be like to meet me face-to-face.
The next piece of real estate and one of the most high powered search areas in LinkedIn is your header. People have an awful habit of putting their title here. But that just means you’ll show up when a sales person wants to sell into “Business Development Managers”… Why not use this to give a shot of what you deliver? Keyword heaven!!! It doesn’t have to read well; it has to tell your potential connection what you will bring to the table. It has to tell the search engines to show you in their results. Be creative!
Can you see the difference between me putting “Marketing Strategy, Communications, Social Media, Digital Strategist, LinkedIn, Branding, Entrepreneur, Keynote Speaker” versus “CEO Redstorm”?
In Part Two of this “Social Selling – Linkedin for Sales Prospecting” I’ll be looking at how to successfully engage and create Great Conversations across the platform.
If you’re having any difficulty with your own profile give me a bell on 087 2476600 and we can chat it through!
LinkedIn is often overlooked in B2B marketing campaigns – but that may be a missed opportunity
Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy Note 2 “phablet” (a mobile phone of near-tablet size) at the beginning of this year made great use of LinkedIn, the professional networking site which is often overlooked in consumer marketing campaigns.
The mobile phone giant created a microsite and invited visitors to sign in with their LinkedIn membership profiles. They were then encouraged to share their thoughts about the phablet with their LinkedIn connections, enabling Samsung to reach a global audience of 20 million people. Samsung’s director of social media marketing, Andy Hwang, points to LinkedIn’s ability to precisely target audiences, adding: “It provided a platform for driving word of mouth and shifting perceptions among consumers worldwide.”
Since its launch 10 years ago, LinkedIn has become the first port of call for businesses wanting to use social media for B2B marketing, staff recruitment and disseminating industry information. But it comes low down the list of social platforms that brands consider for marketing to consumers, a situation the company is seeking to remedy.
Its 239 million members worldwide tend to spend less time on the site compared with users of Facebook and Twitter, but LinkedIn’s members are there for serious reasons. They are less likely to lie in their profiles and they visit the site to enhance their position in the world.
With 3m company pages, the marketing potential seems huge. LinkedIn’s marketing solutions division accounts for about a quarter of the company’s revenues, recruitment account for more than half of revenues, while subscriptions make up about a fifth. In the second quarter of this year, the marketing unit’s profits grew 36% on the 2012 period to over $85m (£54m).
Josh Graff, head of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions across Europe, says this shows that advertising on LinkedIn “is truly coming of age”. He adds: “The platform has changed. People used to think of it just as a place to secure a new job. But six times more impressions flow from people seeking information about companies than those specifically looking for a new job.
“More and more consumer brands such as Samsung and Mercedes are going on LinkedIn every day because they can target our members who are affluent, educated and influential and have a high disposable income.” He says that a third of visits to the site come via mobile, up from a fifth a year ago.
Paul Armstrong at Digital Orange Consulting points to figures from digital analysts ComScore, which show that the 9.4 million unique UK visitors to LinkedIn in July were evenly spread across the age groups. But the site has an above-average proportion of high-income visitors. While nearly 6 million had incomes under £50,000 a year, 3.5 million earned in excess of 50K, according to ComScore. “People are getting to understand that it is a controlled space, there’s not a lot of noise going on there and it is a simple eco-system. It is becoming a hub for high-quality business information,” he says.
LinkedIn has recently introduced Sponsored Updates, where businesses can pay to ensure their posts appear in the news feeds of members, who they can target using a range of criteria.
Graff says this enables brands to promote new and relevant information, such as white papers, research and infographics, particularly important for companies seeking to build their reputations for thought leadership on business issues. This helps the site’s B2B marketing strategy, positioning it as a resource for anyone in business who wants advice, data and contacts.
Computer giant HP uses LinkedIn to target small businesses through its Business Answers page, where firms can discuss areas of interest such as tax. Rebecca Shears, head of marketing for printing and personal systems at HP, says: “We had research which showed that more and more small businesses are turning to social media and are looking for peer-to-peer advice, so we launched the hub two years ago. Now we’ve got over 9,000 members. The main reason we are doing it is to position HP as a brand that supports businesses.” She says members of the LinkedIn page are 20% more likely to recommend HP products than the average population.
Though the LinkedIn page is free for HP to run, the computer giant supports it with advertising. Shears says that if HP doesn’t buy the ads, rival companies will.
Of course, B2B marketing also has a consumer spin off. Vodafone UK’s business division uses LinkedIn to promote its Your Better Business website, which offers information and advice to business people. Helen Moon, head of Enterprise Brand at Vodafone UK, says LinkedIn is a powerful platform for disseminating business information. She adds: “There is a definite halo effect for consumers on LinkedIn. Business people are also consumers so they absorb information which shapes their personal and professional opinions.”
In truth, all the social media sites are works in progress for marketing, says Leo Ryan, head of Ogilvy@Social. “LinkedIn certainly is not a natural place for consumer marketing,” he adds. “Though that’s not to say you can’t do something innovative there. Facebook’s billion-strong membership is a hard number to ignore, so it is the default site for brands, while Twitter can have such an impact on the news cycle. LinkedIn is behind Instagram for consumer campaigns. But if B2B’s your thing, it is the first stop.”
LinkedIn’s share price is soaring in the US. Investors seem to like LinkedIn’s argument that the site’s users go there for serious reasons and that this offers brands strong marketing potential.
Article Originally Appeared: By David Benady in The Guardian – Wednesday 11 September 2013
We are quite excited about a new feature that LinkedIn is launching today. You can now start conversations through “LinkedIn Mentions”. What this means is that you can “mention” companies and connections in your status updates and comments on the network.
If you’re familiar with Twitter mentions, you can expect LinkedIn mentions to work basically the same way. In fact, it looks as if the new feature will integrate directly with Twitter. In other words, if you mention a connection on LinkedIn, and that member has his or her Twitter account connected to LinkedIn, the mention will also show up as a Twitter mention. (This assumes that you choose to send the status update to Twitter through LinkedIn)
I’m a big fan of maximizing impact while minimizing time in social networking, and the LinkedIn mentions feature is certainly going to help with this. LinkedIn “mentions” is going to bring more of a real-time feel to the network as you will be notified as soon as anyone mentions you or your company. You will see the mentions at the top of the site under “notifications”, which is represented by the small flag symbol.
Mentioning Connections on LinkedIn
The LinkedIn Blog states the following regarding mentioning your connections:
“In addition to first-degree connections, you can also mention other LinkedIn members engaged in conversations in the comment sections of posts on the LinkedIn Homepage.”
I’ve always been an advocate for growing both the breadth and the depth of your LinkedIn network, versus limiting your connections. Every new connection is an opportunity to grow your visibility!
With the new mention feature, you will have the ability to more effectively engage your first-degree connections in updates and conversations. Additionally, you can engage in conversations beyond your first-degree connections in the home page comment sections of posts.
My hope is that you will also be able to engage with commenters on LinkedIn Influencer posts, as many those posts tend to generate lots of comments. Now, those comments may turn into true dialogue!
Mentioning Companies on LinkedIn
Why might you want to mention companies on LinkedIn through your status updates and comments?
By mentioning companies with value-added status updates or commentary, you can engage directly with the company (someone is running the page) and potentially the members who are following the company.
As with all social networking features, don’t be the person who abuses the privilege. I’m sure that with this feature we will see plenty of exploitation. Be the smart marketer and build online influence through adding value and empowering others. Use LinkedIn mentions to help other members solve problems, get smarter, and achieve more.
Below is a brief slideshow demonstrating the LinkedIn mentions feature:
What do you think? Are you excited about this new LinkedIn feature?
One of the most pressing questions whether you’re a social media newbie or a social media maven is: What’s the best way to post information or share content to optimize your reach?
A study was recently conducted with more than 200 companies to determine how social media professionals may optimise their engagement with both business-to-business and business-to-consumer conversations.
Researchers evaluated numerous factors such as the number of words in a post, the time of the posting, the day of the week as well as punctuation and the usage of hashtags.
As with many communications and marketing tactics, the answer depends entirely on the targeted audience.
The key finding: Mondays and Wednesdays are the best days to post on Twitter if you want to reach consumers. For LinkedIn, Monday is your best day.
But if you want to reach other businesses, Tweet on Wednesday and post to LinkedIn on Sunday.
And what about the use of hashtags? Hashtags are best saved for business-to-business-oriented posts but don’t work nearly as well if consumers are your target.
The biggest surprise for me was that the use of questions marks significantly minimizes your click-through rates between 25 and 52 percent as compared to posts without questionmarks.
Check out this infographic for details on how to maximize your social sharing efforts. It’s an Eye Opener!
Are you designing and scheduling your social media for real results or do you need a hand with all the busyness?
What do you find gets the best results?
You’ve probably heard how important LinkedIn is becoming in business, such an integral part of your personal executive branding. You have a profile but you’re not getting much traction in terms of real results or a visible revenue stream. It all takes time and time is probably one of the commodities that you just don’t have… Right? Having a successful LinkedIn profile is not easy but we think there are a few key areas that will pay big dividends…
1. Treat your LinkedIn profile like a website:
Make sure it is formatted, clean, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. I strongly suggest creating your LinkedIn profile first in a word document – not only so you can “catch” errors, but also so you can get a better idea of what your profile will look like on the LinkedIn website. In some sections of LinkedIn you can also pull in bullets and special characters. Alas – still no bolding or italics other than what LinkedIn itself formats. Another bonus, if you’ve already created your profile in a Word document, sections of it can easily be copied into other social media platforms to keep your branding unified.
2. Know your keywords:
Like any website, LinkedIn’s internal search engines weigh your keywords heavily in its searches. Make sure you place your most important search or keywords strategically throughout your profile. Some places you might want to consider are your:
• Professional Headline
• Title Fields
• Education (Activities and Societies)
3. Keep your name clean:
Put only your first name in the first name field and your last name in the last name field. If someone is searching for you by name, LinkedIn will have a hard time finding you if your last name looks like this: Jones, Dr. Mark P. (email@example.com)
4. Keep your photo professional:
I recommend a close up and a smile. A full body shot of you and your family, you and your car, you and that fish you caught last week is unclear and unprofessional. I have seen some artists use artistic renderings of themselves – which is clever if your image is still clear. LinkedIn doesn’t like logos.
5. Don’t ignore the “post an update” function:
LinkedIn’s update function is much more robust than it used to be (taking some tips from Facebook and Twitter). People can now “like” and “comment” on your updates – which helps to build relationships within LinkedIn which play a big part in your becoming successful on LinkedIn. And with the introduction of LinkedIn Signal, the update section can now be a functional part of your SME (Subject Matter Expertise) and content strategy. Make sure you take a little time each day to “like” and “comment” on the updates of network as well.
6. Personalize your public profile URL:
Make sure your public profile reflects your name, your business, or your area of expertise: http://linkedin.com/in/carolokelly or http://linkedin.com/in/linkedinexpert. Nothing says, “I’m a LinkedIn neophyte” like a public profile that reads: http://linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname9890734-akjshfiho
7. Personalize your websites:
When you edit your website, the drop down menu gives you the option of “other”. When you click on that, a new field opens up that allows you to type in your business name, website name, call to action, or description of your website. So instead of “Company Website” or “Personal Website” this section can read “Social Media for SMEs” or “Click here: Taxation Updates for 2013”
8. Juice up your “Experience” section:
“Experience” is not your resume. Make sure the jobs you choose to list support each other. Make sure you put all your keywords in the title section.
9. Utilize the “Experience” description area:
Use the 1000 characters in the description section to tell people why they should hire you or your company or buy your product. Tell a “save the day” story. Put in a testimonial. “Experience” is a great place to list “wins”, different companies you have helped, seminars or workshops you have presented, a mini-shot of your personal website. Use this section as the foundation for your Company Profile
10. List your “additional education”:
Make sure you list your certifications and licenses as well as traditional education. LinkedIn has now added new sections where you can list areas of expertise, publications, patents licenses and certifications.
11. Get Recommendations:
LinkedIn tells you your profile is complete with three recommendations. I suggest between 5-10. And when you are asking for recommendations, provide a bulleted list of your skills, strengths and services so people will write a more complete recombination and not: “She’s great”. If you are comfortable doing so, you might write a recommendation that the recommender can use or base their recommendation from. You might want to add some of the better recommendations to your website. Ask for recommendations from thought leaders in your field, old employees, and well-known clients – these all go towards you becoming successful on LinkedIn and being able to see real results.
12. Join strategic groups:
Join groups in your own market or industry, your ideal client’s industry, groups that you are interested in, groups that your target prospects are members of, alumni groups, open groups and some big groups (Consider LinkedHR with 370,000 members). Once you join a group you can send a message to strategic members /prospects or invite strategic members to connect with you. In the next week or so I’ll be doing further posts on Groups and the best ways to manage them and use them strategically to your advantage.
13. Create a group:
Consider creating an open or closed group. Make sure you, or someone in your company is tasked to moderate it to keep it interesting and relevant. Make your group a destination and active forum.
14. Limit the invitations you send out:
You only get 3000 invitations in a lifetime – use them wisely. Even though LinkedIn gives you the tools to upload your entire list, make sure you only invite people who are already on LinkedIn and don’t invite more than 2500 people – leave a few invitations for the future. At this time you cannot buy more invitations.
15. When inviting others, tell them how you know them:
LinkedIn used to have an IDK “I don’t know” button that could get you in a lot of trouble. Now a person’s response to an invitation is “Accept” or “Ignore”. Nevertheless, when inviting someone to connect with you, I highly recommend telling him or her how you know them or why you want to connect.
16. Use “Answers”:
The answers section is a great place to position yourself as an SME or thought leader. Answer enough questions and you can drastically increase your exposure on LinkedIn as the “go to” person. It’s also a great place to get ideas for blog articles, or to re-purpose blog articles you have already written!
17. Always be courteous:
LinkedIn is a business-networking site. Be courteous. Try to Answer Inmails, messages, and requests for introductions within 72 hours. Remember your “Please” and Thank you”. Help someone out.
18. “Give” more than “Get”:
LinkedIn is a great place to get information, to get connections, to get clients, to get employees. But follow the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Don’t spam. Don’t infiltrate email boxes with constant sales messages. Instead share valuable information via your groups, updates and answers and let clients come to you.
19. Use Applications:
Everyday LinkedIn is adding more useful applications. You can embed up to 8 in your profile. Take a look and see which ones will be most useful to you. I recommend their blogging apps (either Blog Link or WordPress), Slideshare, Google Presentation (to show YouTube Videos) Amazon Reading List (especially if you are an author or have published an eBook).
20. Life Long LinkedIn Learning
Continually try to keep up to date with the changes going on in the LinkedIn platform and learn how to use them to your best advantage. Keep an eye on LinkedIn blogs and articles and make use of tips on this site to make your profile and company pages as engaging and as relevant to your target audience as possible on an ongoing basis.
How are you sharing your blog? How are you making sure your content is found and then shared? Is your social media strategy working?
Are you promoting yourself via social networks, or are you leaving that to your readers? Do you make sure potential clients know about your blog, if you’re using it as a business platform?
Are you simply using the standard sharing options – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc – or are you thinking of ways you can be a little creative when it comes to sharing your blog socially?
Let’s face it, if you’re using your blog as a business platform then the more eyeballs it gets, the better for finding potential new clients or customers. Even a personal blog can benefit from extra visitors.
So here are a few ways you can get outside the normal views of retweets and shares, and promote your blog to a bigger crowd that may miss it otherwise.
Social Sharing Groups
The most oft-used method of sharing a blog post is via social sharing buttons on the post itself.
These are either located at the top and/or bottom of the post, or to the side. But why not take this a little further, and create a social sharing group?
For example, one of the best resources for traffic to this blog is Stumbleupon. This is a great social sharing platform that lets you “stumble” the web, and allows you to give either a thumbs up or down to the site you’re currently on (you can also leave a review if you like).
What happens then is that the site is put into the Stumbleupon library, so anyone else using the stumble option could land on your blog. If they then like it, they give you a thumbs up and your currency increases on Stumbleupon. It’s easier than it sounds, and it’s a great passive traffic generator.
So create a Stumble group.
Grab about 10 of your online friends, and help promote each other’s blogs. Anytime a new post is published, have one of the group stumble it, then you can give it a thumbs up.
You can then take this idea to other social bookmarks – Reddit, Digg, etc. Just make sure you also highlight a lot of other great sites too – don’t create the group just to promote your work, that’s just spammy.
Side note: While traffic from Stumbleupon can be great, bounce rates can be affected (the amount of time someone stays on your site), so keep an eye on that in your analytics.
Turn Posts into Ebooks
You blog. You write. A lot. Depending on whether you’re a niche blogger or not, you might have a lot of posts on similar topics, or even run a blog series of interconnected posts.
So why not turn them into an ebook?
The market for ebooks is huge, and offers a great way for you to either give back to your blog community for reading you, or sell them as part of your business offerings.
Write a crafts blog? Put together some of your favourite tips and publish as an ebook. Chef? Collate some of your favourite recipes and sell them via your blog. And so on – the possibilities for what’s in your ebook are endless.
Turn Your Blog into a Slide
One of the best platforms around at the moment is Slideshare. Essentially taking PowerPoint presentations to the next level, Slideshare also allows uploads of PDF’s, documents and other presentations.
It then turns these into slideshows that you can either grab the embed code for or download to your hard drive, as well as the normal sharing options on Twitter and Facebook, etc.
You can even add audio or talk tracks, or turn your slides into mini-movies.
So working from your ebook idea, collate some of your best posts on a topic and create a presentation. Edit the posts accordingly to make the best use of Slideshare’s capabilities (perhaps a connecting image, statistic or similar), and then upload and choose your sharing settings.
If folks like it and decide to embed on their own blog, you instantly have a new audience. That could go one step further, and businesses could pick up your kick-ass presentation and use it as a training resource.
The next potential step from that is to bring you on board to expand on your initial ideas – so now your original blog post has become both a training resource and a client lead.
Just Getting Started
These are just three ways that you could take the normal social sharing option, and add a little extra to help promote your blog.
The thing is, just because you already have sharing options in place doesn’t mean you need to stop there. The great thing with blogs is that they can be essentially timeless, given the right post and topic. Why not use that?
How about you – what are you doing to extend the reach of your blog? Feel free to share your tips on what works for you in the comments.
(This post was originally published in For Bloggers June 2012)
Redstorm CEO, Carol O'Kelly, is a very hugely respected, award winning, keynote speaker in the areas of Personal Branding, Strategy, Communications, Executive Presence and LinkedIn. She has a huge passion for what she does and for the clients she works with. From C-Suite Personal Branding work to Communications Strategy projects and her Advisory roles, she brings all her energy, enthusiasm and focus to her work.