If there’s one social media platform that I recommend to companies selling B2B, it’s LinkedIn. With thousands of business contacts who are your clients, prospects, and colleagues, it’s a great tool to build your business network.
If you don’t have a profile, start to build one and aim to get a high percentage of completion on your profile. That means listing your current positions (both volunteer and business), noting your skills, experience, education and interests, detailing your previous jobs, listing organizations that you belong to, and uploading your photo.
Once your initial profile is complete, LinkedIn will make suggestions of people you should invite to join your network. Avoid using the standard template that LinkedIn will generate for you. Take a minute and customize the invitation so that it sounds like it’s coming from you. This also provides you with an opportunity to remind the person how you know them. Likewise, if you receive a notice that someone in your network has a new job, don’t respond with the auto-generated message. Write your own sincere congratulatory note.
Since you may have the same contacts in LinkedIn and Twitter, be sure to use unique posts for each social network. I know it’s tempting, and I’ve done it too, as I’m trying to accomplish my goal of doing more on social media, but resist the temptation! Also avoid sending Twitter feeds to LinkedIn, since tweeting terminology isn’t consistent with LinkedIn’s more professional tone.
One big faux-pas is inviting people you don’t know to join your network. You wouldn’t ask a stranger to join your group, so don’t ask someone you’ve never met to join LinkedIn.
On a more positive note, Linked In can be a good source of referrals and testimonials. Start getting recommendations by giving them first. Write a lovely reference about your client and they’ll be very tempted to reciprocate. Similarly, you can also endorse the experience of your clients.
One last tip I would suggest is to join discussion groups related to your business field. It’s a great way to keep up-to-date on issues your clients and prospects are interested in.
LinkedIn has great potential to help you in your sales efforts, but like everything else, you’ll only get back what you put in, so try to set aside time each week to make a post and review what people in your network are saying.