Amid the global lockdowns and the subsequent economical impacts, some businesses saw an incredible rise in the demand of their products and services.
One such business is LinkedIn. The platform that has long been viewed as a place to find jobs and candidates, emerged as a goldmine for those who depend on social selling.
The platform offers incredible ability to search targeted prospects and engage them. At the same time, LinkedIn’s algorithms seem to be promoting great content organically. This means there is a great potential to gain unmatched visibility by simply producing and sharing good content. No need to support it with paid advertisements.
All these qualities, combined with several other unique attributes of LinkedIn make it an excellent place for prospecting and making sales.
With that said, just like other platforms, there are unspoken rules on LinkedIn. It is a social platform, not a sales platform and the people you find on LinkedIn are there to socialise, not for sales pitches.
This simply means that making sales on LinkedIn is a delicate process that does not involve blatant sales pitches. Instead, an inbound mindset tends to perform better.
If those sentences confuse you, you have landed on the right article. In the following sections, we will be discussing how you can utilise LinkedIn to generate inbound queries for your products or services.
However, before we jump into the actual process, let’s understand the inbound method of lead generation in a bit more detail.
What Is Inbound Lead Generation?
As the name suggests, inbound lead generation is the practice of incentivising and motivating your ideal prospects to reach out to you, asking about your services.
This is usually achieved by establishing authority, credibility, and expertise (also known as a brand), and making it visible to the people that are most likely to benefit from your product or service.
Establishing a brand, whether it is personal or for a business, involves a lot of customer education, investment into producing valuable content, and spending time on building relationships.
While it is a time consuming and effort demanding task, the results are nothing short of incredible. Look at these stats:
- Inbound practices produce 54% more leads than traditional outbound practices.
- Inbound marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing.
- 60% of marketers say inbound is their highest quality lead source.
LinkedIn allows anyone to experience these benefits without investing in building and maintaining a widespread web presence and creating content worth hundreds of man hours.
LinkedIn allows anyone to enjoy such benefits with their own efforts.
Let’s see how you can make LinkedIn work for you.
(Forewarning: There are no get-rich-quick tips here, just good old value driven marketing):
Before you can go out into the world and start building your brand, you need to have something worth presenting. In the World of LinkedIn, the only thing you can truly call your own is your profile.
Thankfully, the platform has designed profiles in a way that gives you plenty of chances to position yourself as an expert authority on relevant subjects.
While it should be pretty obvious why one’s LinkedIn profile is important in the endeavour of social selling, if there is any doubt, it should be cleared up by the fact that LinkedIn has published a 17-step guide on profile optimization.
While the 2017 guide is pretty exhaustive, I want to talk about something that I have discovered because of my own experience on the platform- keywords.
Sure, the other parameters that it uses to operate are very different from Google, but LinkedIn’s Premium product, the LinkedIn Sales Navigator comes with advanced search options that allow users to search for profiles based on keywords.
This means it’s likely that the LinkedIn search algorithm uses keywords to show results to free users as well.
So, when optimizing your profile, don’t forget to think about the keywords you want your profile to be visible for. Much like Google, when LinkedIn users want to search for someone with a solution to their problem, they start their search with a keyword.
Just like traditional inbound marketing, your success on LinkedIn is heavily dependent on the content you publish through your profile.
However, there is so much emphasis on the same that another important aspect of social selling is often overlooked- being social.
That’s why I want to address this before we discuss content.
Being social is a big part of social selling (duh!). Thankfully, being social on LinkedIn is not super-complicated. With that said, it will require you to put some thought into the process.
For instance, it’s common advice from LinkedIn “influencers” that you should comment on other people’s posts. However, most forget to tell you how to make those comments impactful.
Every time you publish content, even if it is in the form of a comment on someone else’s post, make sure you are thinking about your ultimate goal of being on LinkedIn, establishing a brand. To that end, make sure that all content you produce, including comments, is delivering/adding value to others.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to act like a boring know-it-all all the time. Remember, even entertainment is valuable.
When dropping comments, share knowledge, make your readers laugh, share a relevant and relatable story from your life, treat comments like a conversation.
Similarly, try to have productive/interesting conversations in the Direct Message (DM) section of LinkedIn.
Every time you get a request or get your connection request accepted, reach out to the person and have a casual chat with them. Remember, networking is the key to social selling. Even if someone isn’t a potential client, they may be able to introduce you to one.
One of the most productive conversations you can have will be about helping others, for free. Now, I’m not talking about working for them for free. But just giving out little tid bits of advice (related to your field of expertise) that can give them a little boost.
As your list of connections, followers, and success grows on LinkedIn, doing all this with every single connection you add will not be possible, and that’s alright. Remember, the objective here is to appear approachable so that potential prospects don’t hesitate in seeking your help.
Finally, we get to the meat of inbound marketing, producing content.
If you don’t consider yourself to be a ‘creator’, there’s good news, even text posts are known to perform extremely well on LinkedIn. If you like reading and writing blog posts (like this one), then you’ll be happy to know that even articles are known to perform well on LinkedIn.
With that said, the use of visual elements like photographs is known to improve engagement.
Here’s a neat article about LinkedIn posts by Neil Patel.
While the format of the post is definitely important, what’s more important is the content.
Unfortunately, I have no new or unique advice in that department. In order to succeed, you must produce content that is relatable, relevant, and valuable for your audience.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Posts about common problems faced by your target audience/professionals in your industry
- Posts about real problems that your audience or fellow professionals are facing
- Posts that showcase your knowledge of relevant subjects by educating your connections
Notice how none of the ideas are limited to your target audience? This is because the primary objective of producing content is not to sell, but to establish a brand.
When your content is relatable for more people, it gets better engagement.
When your content gets better engagement, LinkedIn algorithms give it better visibility.
With better visibility, there is a likeliness that more people will find your content relatable or valuable and engage with it. That will in turn, drive more visibility.
It’s a delightful cycle of visibility and engagement. However, it only starts when you produce content that encourages engagement.
What kind of content encourages engagement? The answer is a frustrating “it depends”.
To find out what content resonates with your audience, you will have to conduct your own tests with different types of content, different topics, different post types, different posting times, and every other variable that you think will influence engagement and visibility.
Be Innovative And Be Thrifty
Now, we will talk about the social selling part of generating business on LinkedIn.
The previous steps were all about helping you establish a brand. However, doing that will be a little difficult if you don’t have the right people in your list of connections.
That’s why, you must start adding more and more people to your network.
Thankfully, LinkedIn offers an incredibly powerful search feature. It allows you to search for profiles and filter the results based on a variety of factors like current company, job position, location, past educational institutions, and a lot more.
With these features, you can ensure you are consistently adding relevant people to your network.
A note of warning, sending out too many connection requests in a short window of time is a surefire way to get banned from LinkedIn. So, limit the requests you send out to 50/day and make it a point to regularly wipe out the requests that don’t get accepted.
While there is a lot of advice about pairing your connection requests with a personalised message, it hasn’t made a difference for me personally. That’s why, in order to save time, I usually send out requests without messages.
If, however, someone accepts my request, I make it a point to reach out to them with a personalised message that usually leads to a casual chat. From there, depending on my understanding of whether or not they will benefit from what I am offering, I try to direct the call in that direction.
If, for instance, they are a potential customer, I like to share a content offer with them during our first or second conversation.
The amazing thing is, most of the time, the content offer is not even mine. I simply make them aware about the existence of such an offer and share a link. Since they are already a connection on LinkedIn, I can have a conversation with them, can add value and nurture them.
That was the “be innovative” part, now let’s talk about being thrifty.
If you thought that LinkedIn’s search feature is powerful, wait till you see the search feature offered by its premium offering, the Sales Navigator.
While the Sales Navigator is an expensive prospecting tool, it lets you laser target the exact prospects that you believe are most likely to purchase from you.
The good news is that LinkedIn offers a month’s trial of the Sales Navigator to all its users. The tool is so powerful that when used right, it can make you enough money to be able to afford the $80 retainer from the following month.
The Sales Navigator is actually sort of a CRM that lets you sift through LinkedIn profiles, save leads, gives you suggestions of profiles similar to your chosen leads, and even comes with 40 InMail credits that you can utilise to reach out to your best prospects, without even sending them a request.
Go The Extra Mile To Add Value (Conclusion)
While nobody really knows how LinkedIn’s algorithms really work, spending some time on the platform will make one thing clear, those who succeed are almost always adding value to the lives of their audience.
Stick to the platform long enough, keep providing value, keep conducting experiments and tests, and success on LinkedIn is almost assured.