Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Can LinkedIn Really Help You Get More Business?

If you’re in sales, one of the major challenges that you’ll come across on a regular basis is finding qualified leads. You can buy as many lists as you can from lead brokers, or create time-consuming marketing campaigns, but nothing can beat the effectiveness of LinkedIn’s platform for finding a captive business audience in one spot. Other than being able to use LinkedIn as a tool to find targeted prospects, you can also use it to keep track of your competitors. By creating a profile for both yourself and your company, you can also take advantage of the network to connect with your target audience and drive traffic back to your website.

Making LinkedIn Work For Your Company

As with other type of social media marketing strategies, using LinkedIn to promote your business means you have to keep your profile current and active. Don’t just think that because you set up a LinkedIn profile that your work is done. It would be like going to a business expo and standing in a corner hoping people will come to you. How would they even know you’re in attendance? You’ve got to be proactive by directly reaching out to other businesses and professionals and give them an opportunity to experience what your company has to offer.

Here are some techniques that can help:

1)      Join LinkedIn Groups: A great way to build relationships with your prospects is to join in on the various discussions going on at LinkedIn groups. For instance, if you are involved in import/export, then you can certainly find a group of professionals who are discussing matters that would pertain to your industry. Join groups and get into the game.

2)      Be a subject matter expert: Get involved in LinkedIn Answer forums, especially those related to your industry and your prospects. The LinkedIn Answers forum allows all members to post questions on any business challenges that they are facing. This allows them to take advantage of the platform’s peer-to-peer network, having any member to answer and to respond to questions posted by any other LinkedIn member. There are several advantages to this feature:

i)        It is an excellent way to gather information and to be on the cutting edge of a particular industry or niche.

ii)      It is also a great way to communicate with prospects and potential partners in a particular niche. If you answer questions, you are positioning yourself as a subject matter expert in your industry and people will turn to you for answers.

3)      Connecting your network with each other: Build your social influence by connecting your contacts or members with each other. Working to connect your network with other members on LinkedIn not only helps you become known as an influencer, there also is an ancillary benefit – your network will reciprocate the favour. 

Although LinkedIn isn't the largest social network, it is one that has the most business-oriented membership.  You not only have all your prospects at one spot, but can tap into a peer-to-peer resource that can help you build your business. However, just like offline networking, you have to work at building relationships with your network using the right techniques.