When it becomes time for businesses to think about marketing and lead generation online, often the first thought is to try to increase traffic to their website by using effective search engine optimization and boosting social media presence by creating a Facebook page or perhaps also a Twitter and an Instagram account. These are all fantastic tools and, when used correctly, can be great for business. In terms of generating leads, however, one of the best social media platforms is LinkedIn.
“LinkedIn? Isn’t that just for finding a job?” is how many people respond when they first think of the site, but it’s much more than that. LinkedIn is a platform specifically for networking and has over 630 million active professionals using it. LinkedIn is unparalleled in terms of providing direct access to potential clients and decision-makers within businesses, and here are some of the ways that it’s doing this.
Generating Leads Through Mutual Connections
First of all, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to connect. Each user that you connect with has their own network. This is an excellent way to meet new people who could be potential clients. User profiles tend to include information about the work people do as well as their interests, so it’s easy to see which people within your friends’ networks could become leads. Once you have found a possible lead with whom you share a mutual contact, it’s a simple case of expressing your interest in connecting with them. While it’s polite to pursue an introduction through a mutual friend, you don’t want to come across as just using them to expand your client list, so use discretion when deciding whether to approach the new contact without introduction. Keep in mind that nobody wants to feel spammed, so do not use this as a chance to sell. Rather, include a short personal message that maybe mentions your mutual interests and follow up with a brief thank-you if they accept your request.
Search and Connect
While engaging with people through mutual friends is more likely to result in a new connection, it is certainly not the only way to expand your network and generate leads. LinkedIn also offers a comprehensive search engine so you can filter by interests, location, industry or language to name a few (and that’s just within the free package!)
You can use this to your advantage to find and connect with people who are interested in your work or who are within your target group.
Building Networks Through Groups
Speaking of groups, that’s another LinkedIn feature that pages are using to generate leads. Finding (or starting) a group that is relevant to your business interests is an excellent way to connect with potential leads less directly. Contributions to conversations and posting regularly is a good way to make yourself seen, heard and known. You can build trust and familiarity with other group members which can transform into leads and clients.
Blog Posts and Engagement
LinkedIn also offers the chance to build your business through your own page. As you would on your website or other social media, it’s important to maintain a digital presence on LinkedIn. Think of it as another opportunity for community engagement and not just as a networking site. Your connections should be seeing your profile popping up in their activity feed regularly.
However, make sure to avoid falling into the trap of providing quantity over quality. The set-up of LinkedIn is much more personal than that of other social media pages, so you don’t want your connections to see you as spamming them. Also, make sure your posts have some form of call-to-action or open a discussion at the end. Similar to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can use hashtags to make your posts on LinkedIn show up in search results. LinkedIn now offers what they are calling Community Hashtags, which are hashtags that you can choose to have your business permanently associated with, meaning your page will show up in those hashtag search results without being bumped down the search results page while others use the same hashtags.
A new feature of LinkedIn is also the option of inserting your custom call-to-action buttons on your page. Instead of just ‘follow’, you can now offer new visitors to your page the following buttons:
- Contact Us
- Learn More
- Sign Up
- Visit website
These increase the likelihood of interaction with potential clients and can help turn visitors to your page into leads.
Something unique to LinkedIn is the option to provide recommendations. These are essentially reviews left directly on your page for your other connections to see. Having clients and other business partners leave strong recommendations can be particularly useful. They increase your credibility as a good business when you reach out to new connections, and can generate interest in your page. One way to get great recommendations is to give one of your own. Keep it brief and genuine so your connections don’t feel like you’re only doing it to get something in return. A positive recommendation for a connection will highlight the good rapport you have with others. It also puts your business name on their pages and can motivate them to reciprocate.These are just some of the features available on LinkedIn that can be used to generate leads, with more features being released each quarter. LinkedIn is an excellent platform to expand your network and build your business clientele.