LinkedIn is a valuable social network aimed at obtaining professional contacts. It’s a goldmine of prospecting opportunities for any sales rep willing to take the time to understand it and use it correctly. The following list provides seven rules that anyone in the sales profession should keep in mind when using LinkedIn as a prospecting tool.
one. Make sure your personal profile is always up to date. You want to efficiently deliver as much information 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 contacting you so they don’t waste their valuable time.
two. Conduct an Internet search for companies that may benefit from product or service offerings. On many company websites, you can find names of managers/leaders to connect with. Most of the managers, the ones who make the buying decisions, will be on LinkedIn. Having a social connection can make it much easier for you to get dates with leaders without going through their gatekeepers first. People tend to manage their own individual social media accounts rather than having someone else control them.
3. Help contacts because reciprocity works. Every time one of your LinkedIn connections meets with you or hosts a presentation for you, be sure to thank them. Also, get in the habit of giving your contacts support and, more importantly, referrals. LinkedIn makes endorsing the skills of others easy, and adding personal references shows that you really know the professionalism of others.
Four. Research new contacts before accepting an invitation to connect. Reviewing the potential LinkedIn connection will ensure that they are a qualified candidate for your business. In other words, you may receive random invitations from people who would not encourage your business opportunities or who may just want to build their own contact list. In those cases, it would not be convenient for you to connect. That said, also think about your potential connections at your company. Just because they’re not in senior management, they might still be a good person to connect with due to the fact that they can match you with an appropriate decision maker.
5. Take a look at the connections of those who are already connected. When you have connections, LinkedIn can tell other people you’ve recently connected with. Be sure to check out recent connections, as they may be leads in businesses you haven’t thought of yet. Many people have friends who hold senior management positions at other companies who can benefit you.
6. Join groups that would allow more business prospect matches. Joining specific LinkedIn groups that are in your target environment or industry will increase your chances of identifying real prospects. You can be as specific or vague as you like on these group additions and you can also go back and add or remove groups to increase your target. Sign up for group post summaries so you can keep track of questions asked and provide solutions to get noticed.
7. Please note that other social networking sites are for personal interaction. Keep your LinkedIn account professional to increase the possibility of potential business opportunities. In other words, keep family and friends out of your contacts here unless they can bring you business opportunities. For example, if you have a family member who can provide leads, then by all means have them on your LinkedIn. Otherwise, you must choose another social networking site to interact with them.
Sales professionals who use the seven rules above should easily use the common sense provided in them and better understand how they can use it as a great prospecting tool to increase sales. Sales reps should take advantage of the social network of professional connections offered by LinkedIn and the functionality it can provide to find the golden opportunities that may be waiting there.