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LinkedIn has attracted more than 300 million members, the majority of whom are business professionals; most of your potential prospects and clients now have LinkedIn accounts.
To use LinkedIn to generate new business opportunities for yourself or your company, start with these five proven strategies:
1. Understand your company’s business strategy
Before you start doing anything, make sure you have a good understanding of where your business is going and what your leaders are hoping to achieve. Identify the key stakeholders in your business, and study their mandate (i.e. how they are being measured).
2. Develop a strong LinkedIn profile
This is the most important element because in most cases your profile will determine whether your prospective client is going to take you seriously and engage with you. Your personal value proposition should be articulated clearly. Include recommendations and client testimonials to back up your value proposition. Clearly explain the services you offer and how your prospective client will benefit.
3. Create a focused plan
Consider who to target… think about the right seniority levels, management categories, geographic locations, type of industries, and company sizes. If you do this before starting a campaign, you can be focused and organized from the beginning.
Give careful thought to how to connect with specific individuals. You can use a combination of push, pull or reaching out through intermediaries. This means you can push content and requests to people, pull them towards you by publishing content, or simply use shared contacts to introduce you. Once connected to someone, execute a well thought out content and interaction plan.
Your goal should be to nurture your connections, encourage them to subscribe to other platforms you use, and – in the long run – to convert them (e.g. request a meeting, ask for a proposal, attend an event, or participate in a survey).
4. Be selective
Focus on decision makers with whom you would like to interact. I would extend this to other people within the organisation who may not necessarily be the budget holder or sponsor, but may be a technical evaluator, recommender or possibly a gate keeper. You ideally need to influence the entire “buying centre”. You will also want to connect with people from the media, especially journalists and editors who publish articles (online or offline) in publications read by your potential clients. Also connect with past and present clients and employers.
5. Moderate all conversations and interactions
The type of conversations and the persons conducting the conversations will set the tone and will serve as a determinant of whether your connections are going to be positively influenced or not. The most important thing is to always be genuine in your interactions. You want to build credibility and trust over time. Once you earn credibility, you are in a position to ask for a meeting or – even better – the prospective client will reach out to you.
Image by Brett Farmiloe via Flickr