LinkedIn For Business Development: 4 Essential Tips

LinkedIn is the world’s preeminent social network for professionals. 

Unlike many other social networking sites, LinkedIn is used almost exclusively for professional purposes and is a very “clean” network, meaning there are few members who are not professionals.

The concept behind the site is to provide an opportunity to expand your network of professional connections and has also proven itself as a powerful marketing tool that provides an amazing ability to generate new client leads.

Why LinkedIn Matters

LinkedIn is so powerful because it has become more than just another social networking site; it has become a search engine in itself for individuals and companies looking for service providers.

Hubspot found that LinkedIn is 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook and Twitter. 

Given this, smart LinkedIn users invest time on their LinkedIn strategy, which pays off, with B2B marketers attributing 80% of social leads from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn provides an ideal opportunity for individuals to control their own information online. And because the site typically turns up high in search engines, it’s likely that a personal LinkedIn page will top other sites in search engine results.

By allowing individuals the power of owning their own information online, LinkedIn has become a subtle and effective way to demonstrate expertise and experience.

What’s Your LinkedIn Strategy?

Unlike many other marketing tactics, LinkedIn is extremely easy to jump into. It’s free and anyone can set up an account. While that might make it sound appealing, its ease of use results in thousands of incomplete or useless profiles.

To prevent that from happening, it’s important to have set goals and a strategy in mind before creating a profile.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to accomplish with this LinkedIn Profile?

    The answer can be anything from using it as a tool to identify connections as target companies, to promoting the type of work you do, to showcasing your impressive professional contacts.

  • How will I determine whether this has been a successful business development venture? 

    Simply increasing your number of connections isn’t enough of a measurement metric. It’s better to determine success by measuring things like lead generation, new business meetings, and increased traffic to your website, bio, or blog

  • How much time should I dedicate to using LinkedIn to cultivate business?

    Just like most things in life, you will get out of LinkedIn what you put in. It’s important to be realistic upfront about how much time you can actually dedicate. Whether it’s an hour a week or 6 hours a week, your expectations on what you will get out of it should be proportionate to what you’re putting in.

How to Turn Online Business Connections to Offline Business

Here’s where the rubber hits the road. It’s great to have a large number of connections on LinkedIn, but if the relationship never leaves the site, it’s hard to count that as a successful business development tool. Here are a few ways to help move your LinkedIn connections to potential business opportunities:

1) Write your summary for someone, not everyone. 

The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to the summary section of your profile is to not use it.

The second biggest mistake is to just cut and paste your website bio, which is likely written in the third person and probably pretty generic.

When you’re using LinkedIn for business development, your summary section is like an introduction letter. Picture a specific person that you’re writing it for and use language and key words that will resonate with them. Absolutely write your summary in the first person – it would be very weird to get an email from someone written in the third person – and tell your story in your own words.

You can also get creative. It doesn’t have to be a standard three paragraph biography. Throw in bullets. Put in extra spaces between lines. 

2) Connect with every professional you meet and personalize your invitation. 

When connecting, don’t just use the “I’d like to add you to my professional network” standard copy LinkedIn offers, personalize your invitation with a short note.

You can remind the person where you met, mention something you remember from a conversation you had, or better yet, open the door to a future meeting.

For example: “next time you’re in town I’d love to get coffee;” “thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll give it a read and let you know what I think;” “I just saw the speaker from last night’s event is speaking again next month. Let me know if you’re interested and we can grab a drink first;” etc.

3) Post updates regularly. 

In the context of business development, share information that will be interesting to your target client – the same person you wrote your summary for.

Updates should educate or entertain, but not annoy. Easy things to share include posts from your company’s corporate LinkedIn page, recent blog posts, press releases, or news articles. Adding in a little anecdote about why you’re sharing it is always appreciated.

It’s important to remember here that the headline and an image are the most important pieces of an update. Few people will actually click on the link you share, but many will see you in their news feed and read your headline.

If you’re not posting regular updates your connections will stop remembering you’re there. Having a thoughtful presence on the network can reap huge rewards.

4) Only connect with unsolicited invitations of people you don’t know if you follow through with these two steps:

  • Check out their profile first to see if they’re actually someone worth connecting with. In the context of business development you should ask: is this person a decision maker at a company I am interested in doing business with? OR is this person a potential referral source? 
  • If you decide to connect, immediately send them a message to thank them for connecting and mention why you decided to accept their invitation. For example: “Thanks for connecting. I see that your company does a lot of business in Philadelphia. My firm has worked with similar businesses to bring heightened visibility in the local business press. Please let me know if you’re open to talking further.”

If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve connected with people you don’t know or don’t want to be connected with anymore, you can use the Remove Connection button. On the LinkedIn website you can find it by going to the contact’s page and clicking the box that says “more.” Then click “unfollow” from the drop down menu. The former connection won’t be notified.

Now go forth to become a LinkedIn business development superstar!

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