Disclaimer: This article is written for marketers who want to leverage LinkedIn to support their business development activities. It is entirely based on my experience and practices I followed in the past. There’s no guarantee that it will work for your business/industry; but yes it’s good to experiment something than nothing
Little bit History behind this article: I have been involved into Software Services Sales since last 4 years into International Markets. Yes, not domestic but International. Now obviously few of might question – How would you sale your services to international markets while sitting in India!? Well, there are various traditional sales practices followed across organizations ranging from cold calling, webinars, attending conferences, exhibitions, advertising campaigns, channel partners etc. However, as an individual or start-up, when you have limited budget and access to the market; it’s not possible to follow all above approaches. And so same question came in my mind! How can I do things different way, to succeed in this competitive market? And answer I came up with was something nobody ever thought at that time – LinkedIn!
Since then I am using this little tool for my business development activities and trust me; more than 70% of my business has come from LinkedIn! And then recently I came across to a question from one of my twitter friend @RakeshTheKumar on Quora; asking for some inputs on how to use LinkedIn for business development and I thought of sharing my experience to the world so that they don’t go through long learning curve that I’ve been. It’s good to leverage what’s already available rather than reinventing the wheel again and again. So let’s begin. . .
You might have read tons of articles or attended webinars on how LinkedIn can help you and blah blah blah, but till date, I have never seen any practical experience. Here’s what you can do and I’ve been doing to support your sales activities. (Hope you get word “support”. I am not saying this guideline is substitute to other sales activities; rather it is a supporting activity that might help you move up to the level in the organization and reduces sales cycle)
THINGS TO DO:
- Build Relevant Professional Network: When I say building network, I mean connecting to the right kind of people (target audience, influencers or industry leaders) and not LION (LinkedIn open networkers – who accepts anything and everything that value nothing apart from just increasing your connection number).
- So here comes next Question! How to build network? Well do some research – try to identify kind of people you want to work with or geography & industry you focus on. Go to Advance Search. Use search fields exhaustively – right from keyword, title, location, postal code, industry, filter by group etc. (That’s what you get as free user) If you have some extra bucks, go with premium. But I don’t see any need of that at this moment.
- Once you get result as per above criteria, try to connect with them with personal connection invitation note. In personal note, you can specify objective of connecting with person. No need to pitch your service. So that’s about adding people, RIGHT PEOPLE.
Okay, you got number of people, but what about business? Well, for that you will have to do some branding of yourself.
- Do participate in Q&A section on LinkedIn. Try to find question relevant to your expertise/industry or knowledge and provide relevant answer or solution to their needs. That’s where you build your network. People trust you and you become reliable person for a niche type of problems.
- On the other way, you can also ask open ended questions wherein you can get genuine answers and solution to your problem. Once you answer, if you’re good, they will rate yours as best answer! Yaaay! You will get a star on your profile as best answer in certain category You’re becoming expert to particular field. You see! BRANDING!
- What about Group discussions? Well yes, can be used to some extent. But avoid sharing irrelevant links/spamming with your services (this is what people do there mostly! Sad). So start relevant discussion, ask opinions, discuss latest challenges in your field, how others overcome it etc. More you ask, more you get and more you connect. See that’s where we are going – building your network
- Events: Try identifying people from events they visit and you plan to. Also connect with people who are participating in same event where you are also going. That’s where you can connect with them as pre-event marketing campaign. Schedule meeting, meet during event and take it from there offline.
- Enhancing profile: Yea, very important. This is how mine looks (http://in.linkedin.com/in/harshalkharod – apologies for promoting myself) But yes, this is how you can enhance your profile. Right from headline, title, summary, profile brief, profession, current employer, past employer, recommendation, slideshare presentation, bloglink/wordpress link, any specific certifications/publications/patents you have, again events, and contact details. Be creative; write as much as you can about YOU and how associating with you can help THEM. (indirectly you’re selling yourself)
That’s it; I think I’ve tried to cover most of the points which should help you to get started with LinkedIn Business Development approach. As I always say, “Try to Engage, Business will Follow”. Good luck and keep me posted with your LinkedIn success! Want to share your LinkedIn success stories? Feel free to find me on Twitter @ConnectHarshal or drop me a line on harshalkharod [at] gmail [dot] com