- Participate in LinkedIn Answers
- Add LinkedIn Applications
- Join LinkedIn Groups
- Conduct a LinkedIn People Search
- Experiment with LinkedIn Direct Ads
- Try LinkedIn Mobile
Expanding upon step #3, here is a step-by-step process for quickly engaging with the LinkedIn community and finding out what works and what doesn’t.
1. Create a Target Customer Profile
You should be doing this as your basic go-to-market operation. Who are your customers and what do they look like. In the case of LinkedIn, we’re looking to complete specific fields in their Advanced Search engine.
- Keywords: Skills, experience, or products that your target would include in their profile somewhere
- Design, accountant, simulation, CRM, Java, Double Entry Ledger
- Seniority Level: select the rank of the decision maker or user you’re targeting
- VP and CXO
- Industries: What industry are you targeting
- Banking, Civil Engineering, Agriculture
- Size of Company: are you serving the Fortune 100 or SMB
Once you have completed this profile, perform the advanced search and see what profiles come back.
2. Join Groups Your Customers Participate In
From the search results, find some of the most common or most interesting groups your target customers belong to. You could join groups that have the most members, but you could get lost in the noise. You could join a group that is smaller, but is more specific to your focus field. It’s important to join a group that is active in discussions, so you have a conversation to join. Alternatively, a particularly quiet group could give you the opportunity to start a conversation. However, due to a large amount of spam that some groups generated in members email inboxes, many group members have email notifications turned off. This means that it could be extremely laborious to start a conversation and get it going.
3. Engage the Group
Keep in mind that you’re joining a community. You need to be respectful and professional in your engagement. Consider the experience as if you were at a conference or trade show - engage in conversation, be helpful, and don’t “sell”.
- Comment on discussions, providing helpful and succinct advice, answers, or help. Your goal is to establish yourself as someone who is knowledgeable in the field and open.
- Answer questions and respond to responses.
- Connect with active members in the group (they’re usually actively seeking connections), especially those that you interact with around a topic.
- Post links to interesting content elsewhere on the web. Even better, provide some sort of editorial to show or deliver some “value-add”.
4. Follow Up
Ultimately, your goal is to engage with your target customers on a one-to-one basis and find an opportunity to move them into your sales process. By connecting with them, you have effectively achieved this goal. The next step is to follow up with added-value. Understand what your target is interested in and send them some content they’d find useful. Ideally, a whitepaper or report hosted on your website that requires sign-up. Ask them their opinion of the space your product operates, or the problem your product or service solves. Ask them how you can help.
5. Be Genuine
Above all things, be honest and genuine. Remember, you’re in a community of which you need to be respectful - at the group and individual levels.
Hope this was a useful introduction. How effective Social Networks can be in generating business is hotly and constantly debated. What have you found useful or not so useful?
This post was written by James Colgan on October 1, 2011