Small Business Online Marketing – 4 Tips For Generating Leads Through LinkedIn

Looking to generate sales leads? LinkedIn could be a great resource, especially if you’re in a professional service business. Here are some interesting statistics:

  • 65 million business professionals are connected on LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn claims to be the world’s largest audience of influential professionals
  • Average household income of LinkedIn members: $109,000
  • 45% are actual business decision makers

Lots of people have joined LinkedIn for business networking purposes and to get their resume online for public consumption. Many LinkedIn users, after posting their profile and linking to some college classmates and former colleagues, will move on and rarely look back. But there’s much more to LinkedIn than resume sharing and popularity contests. Like other forms of Social Media marketing, if you approach LinkedIn with a deliberate set of business goals, you can make it deliver real bottom line results. If you are looking for a job and using LinkedIn to spread your resume, you’ll market yourself with that goal in mind. But if you are looking to build leads and establish relationships that could lead to sales, these tips are meant for you.

Tip 1: Position Your Profile Intentionally

Headline. Remember that your prospects will spend no more than about 10 seconds deciding whether to click through to your profile, and your headline is your make-or-break chance to capture their interest – so make it count! Don’t just list your job title or position, but instead use your headline to say who you are, what sort of person or company you can help, and what you will help them to do. Think about the person you want to find you, then speak to them and describe what you can do for them.

Summary. Once you’ve caught their attention enough for them to visit your profile, use the Summary section to elaborate. Your Summary should build on your headline and describe what you’re passionate about, what your business does, what problems you can solve, and why you’re qualified to solve them. Use the Specialties section of your Summary to give a succinct list of the skills and abilities that set you apart.

Experience & Recommendations. If you are looking for sales leads, the rest of your profile should reflect how you talk to your best sales prospects. Speak in terms they can relate to. List your experience – current and past – in words designed to highlight your qualifications – not for past jobs, but for the service you currently offer. Ask for recommendations from people who can attest to the skills or expertise you offer (the more the better!). The best way to attract recommendations? Give them generously to others.

Additional Information. Do you have a website? A blog? A Twitter account? If they position you well and reflect your desired image, list them. Given them a name more interesting than “my website” or “my blog” (click “Other” when prompted) to entice your visitors to click. If you’ve received an honor or award or hold membership in groups that enhance your desired image, include them. Be cautious about adding “interests”, and remember you’re addressing a potential client, not a hiring manager. That said, listing one or two interests can give it a more personal touch, if that’s what you’re after.

Tip 2: Be Smart About Keywords

LinkedIn is a search engine, just like Google, and people use it to find contacts with particular expertise. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile follows the same general principles as SEO. Think carefully about how you want to position yourself, and choose 2-3 keywords you want to be “found” with. Make sure those keywords are prominently used in these places:

– Your profile headline
– Your current job description
– At least one past job description
– Your summary
– Your specialty

Tip 3: Try the Advanced Applications

To further enrich your presence, click “More” on the LinkedIn menu and go to the Application Directory. You’ll find a list of options and should try one or two to spice up your page and give prospects who want to look further a more rounded sense of who you are. Have a Twitter account? If you manage your Twitter interactions professionally, then give LinkedIn visitors a peek at what you’re Tweeting. Author a blog? Pull the feed into your LinkedIn profile so visitors don’t have to leave to read it.

Have a SlideShare or Google Presentation appropriate for client prospects? This is the place to show it. Are you an author? Include your book in the “Amazon Reading List” app and drive people directly to where they can buy it. Do you hold events for prospecting? List your event here, manage the RSVPs and lead qualification activities through this application – and let your LinkedIn connections spread the word virally. Take a few moments to explore the other apps here and decide whether they belong in your “lead generation” cycle. There’s huge value for your lead generation activities here.

Tip 4: Create a Group in Your Niche

Hosting a LinkedIn Group is a terrific way to build leads. Make sure you spend time in other Groups in your niche first, so you’re not flying blind and you first get a feel for Group etiquette. When you set up your own Group, LinkedIn allows you to create a Welcome message, which gets emailed to each new member when they join. Use this to let newcomers know the purpose of your Group and what they can expect – but also to build your brand, send traffic to your website, add a call-to-action, etc. The email will link to your Group Profile page, where you can include a description, website link, and list of any subgroups. Once established, you can send announcements to your LinkedIn group in email (max of once a week). Use this feature judiciously, and make sure you’re sending something of value (free events, webinars, hosted discussions, etc); like with most social media marketing, a hard-sell approach is generally a turnoff.

Try these tips and see if they help build your pipeline of client leads!