When I joined LinkedIn on February 21, 2005, I had no idea what it was or how to use it. It took a while, but I did figure out how to use LinkedIn to get connected, stay connected, share valuable content and generate leads. Today I have 9,330 connections, and I have closed several large deals from leads that came through LinkedIn, from people I had never met.
On April 24, 2017, LinkedIn, now owned by Microsoft, hit 500 million users in more than 200 countries. With those kinds of statistics, it baffles me why more businesses don’t take it seriously. They have outdated profiles, incorrect information, old photos, no banner and worse yet they are not interacting with their customers and prospects.
The Power is in the Network
You’d think every business leader would be learning everything they could about using LinkedIn and insisting that their entire company get on LinkedIn and use it to share great content and interact with customers and prospects. Not just the salespeople, because the power is in the network when everyone in your company is connected to each other and connected to all of the people they know.
LinkedIn can be used to build a network that will generate leads for sales, acquire needed resources, find new employees, get intel on companies and buying influences, build your company brand, and build your personal brand. I don’t know many tools more powerful than that, and the funny thing is, most people are under-utilizing or grossly misusing this amazing tool.
Of the people that are on LinkedIn, only about 50% have a complete profile and a very small percentage are actually interacting with others by posting, sharing and commenting in a way that is engaging. Instead, some people are making random connections, sending spammy sales messages or worse yet, DOING NOTHING.
Are you failing?
Here are 2 ways I see people failing on LinkedIn.
1. Having an Incomplete Profile
Ok, maybe my profile has too much, but most of you don’t have enough. The purpose of your profile is to engage people. Let them read about you and find things they have in common. If you don’t share where you went to school or the many places you have worked or what non-profits you volunteer for, it’s going to be hard for me to find something I have in common with you other than your work.
Your profile is a promotional piece for you and your company. It’s a way to build credibility and to build your brand. The object is to get people to read it and connect, or better yet, contact you to learn more. Your photo, headline, banner and contact information are the most important items on your profile. They should grab attention and immediately help people understand who you are, and your brand. Make a good first impression. Did you know that when people google your name, your LinkedIn profile will show up in the top 5 listings and people will click it to learn about you? You may be missing great opportunities, and they may be skipping over you and going to your competition. Don’t fail at using your profile to grab attention and build credibility. If you want to get an “A” be sure:
- Your contact information is on the profile so people can reach you. Don’t make them search because most won’t.
- Your summary engages the reader. Use words that will resonate with the type of people you are trying to attract.
- To fill out your profile to show that you have experience and are an expert in your field. Use all of the sections that apply.
- Your activity section shows you are active.
2. Doing Nothing
The point of being on LinkedIn is to interact with people. It’s networking. I understand you may not be as outgoing as I am, but it is truly easy to meet people on LinkedIn. As a business leader and especially if you own a business you simply must build your brand online. You are missing opportunities if you don’t.
If you have a profile but aren’t interacting, it’s like going to a party and standing in the corner all night. You will get limited if any results. You should be interacting with others on a regular basis. It’s very quick and easy to do.
- Make a list of people with whom you want to interact.
- If you know them, find them on LinkedIn and connect with a personal message.
- If you don’t know them, follow their posts and click like, comment or share a few times before requesting to connect.
- Once connected continue to click like, comment or share their posts. And post interesting things that will attract them.
- Find an article of interest and private message it to them. Strike up a conversation about things that interest them.
Networking on LinkedIn is like networking in person. You say hello, introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. Conversations lead to results. The next thing you know you’ll be scheduling a meeting.
Once you start sharing be sure to check your posts to see if anyone is commenting on them. You can reply and start a conversation right from the comment area. If you interact with them, they will probably ask you to connect. If they ask you to connect, they may be a prospect, potential collaboration, referral source, or even your next employee. (Ok, sometimes they will be a spammy salesperson, but you can always disconnect!)
I get leads every week via LinkedIn. You can get the results you are looking for too. Spend some time with this powerful tool and learn to use it properly. It’s just like anything else; you have to learn it and spend time on it consistently if you want it to work. I promise it will be worth it.