LinkedIn is a valuable social network geared towards gaining professional contacts. It is a gold-mine of prospecting opportunities for any sales representative willing to take the time to understand it and use it correctly. The following list provides seven rules anyone in the sales profession should keep in mind when using LinkedIn as a prospecting tool.
1. Make sure personal profile is always up-to-date. You want to provide as much information in an efficient manner to prospects who might be viewing your profile for future business. Your LinkedIn profile should include a link to your company website, as well as any other business social media links. Many prospects will want to “check out” what services you provide and more details about your clients and business before they contact you in order to not waste their valuable time.
2. Run an internet search on businesses that may benefit from product or service offerings. On many company websites you may find names of managers/leaders to connect with. Most management people, those who make buying decisions, will be on LinkedIn. Having a social connection can prove much easier for you to gain appointments with leaders without having to go through their gatekeepers first. People tend to manager their own individual social network accounts rather than have them monitored by someone else.
3. Help out contacts because reciprocity works. Whenever one of your LinkedIn contacts meets with you or arranges an introduction for you, be sure to thank them. Also, get into the habit of giving your contacts endorsements and more importantly references. LinkedIn makes endorsing other’s skills of others easy and adding personal references shows you really know the professionalism of others.
4. Research new contacts before accepting an invitation to connect. Checking out the potential LinkedIn contact will ensure they are a qualified fit for your business. In other words, you can receive random invites from people who would not further your business opportunities or who may only want to build their own contact list. In those cases, it would not be to your advantage to connect. With that said, think about their possible connections in their company too. Just because they are not in upper management, they still could be a good person to connect with due to the fact that they can link you to an appropriate decision-maker.
5. Check out the connections of those already connected to. When you have connections, LinkedIn can let you know others whom they have recently connected to. Be sure to review the recent connections as they might be potential customers in businesses you have not thought of yet. Many people have friends that are in upper management positions at other companies and that can work to your advantage.
6. Join groups that would enable more business prospect matches. Joining specific LinkedIn groups that are in your target environment or industry will increase your chances in identifying true prospects. You can be as specific or vague as you like in these group additions and can also go back in and add or delete groups to increase your target. Sign-up for digests of group posts so you can keep track of questions asked and provide solutions to get you noticed.
7. Realize that other social media sites are for personal interaction. Keep your LinkedIn account professional to increase the chance for potential business opportunities. In other words, keep family and friends off your contacts here unless they can further business opportunities for you. For example, if you have a family member that can provide prospects, then by all means have them on your LinkedIn. If not, then you should choose another social media site to interact with them.
Sales professionals who use the preceding seven rules should easily the common sense provided in them and better understand how they can use it as a great prospecting tool to increase sales. Sales representatives should take advantage of the social network of professional connections LinkedIn offers and the functionality it can provide to find the golden opportunities that may be waiting there