The Implications of the Re-design

The LinkedIn.Com Re-design is an opportunity to flourish in ambiguity. There is nothing more certain than change, and so it is safe to say that LinkedIn will continue to make modifications to the user interface. I love change and understand that this is not everyone’s response when the goal posts are moved (in fact, I acknowledge that I am in the minority).

In my 11 year tenure at Diageo Australia, I experienced 5 organisational restructures. Diageo had a formal term (I believe it was even a stated value) to ‘flourish in ambiguity’ and even though this was a term some of us cynically referenced, it was a great value, and one that has stayed with me to help me navigate change. While many people around me complained and worried about the impact the organisational restructure would have on them (which are valid responses), I quickly learnt to hold steady and look for the opportunities. This led to consecutive promotions and I thank my ‘can do’ attitude and resolve not to get ‘caught in the detail’ for helping me maximise the opportunities these changes created for me.

My advice to those concerned about the LinkedIn update and how it will impact you is the same. Hold steady, read the updates via LinkedIn’s official blog and other global LinkedIn commentators, or let me do the reading and testing for you (and you can simply read the monthly summary and ‘so whats’ in my e-insights – subscribe here). What you will benefit from by reading my perspective on the Linkedin redesign is not so much the technical ‘ins and outs’ of these changes (please visit LinkedIn Help for this), but the opportunities that arise from this change.

With the Re-design being phased in since late 2016, the landscape has now changed for LinkedIn members who have the new desktop user experience. Significantly, one of the key free features (advanced search), which my B2B clients loved when I showed them how to navigate it, have been removed.

I am often asked whether investing in the premium or paid features LinkedIn offers is worth exploring. While I used to say ‘it depends on your goals for LinkedIn’, for business owners, sales consultants and subject matter experts wishing to maximise their time on LinkedIn, I am more likely to now say ‘yes’. This is because there used to be more features within a free membership that you could leverage before offering up your credit card details. This has changed since the new Re-design.

What You Must Do Before You Pay for LinkedIn Premium

I do recommend you do some groundwork before upgrading, especially if you wish to use LinkedIn to leverage some of the key paid features available. There is really only value in using these paid features if you are clear about your target market, how they make decisions online, and the role LinkedIn can play in being an influential touch point for your business.

With the new update LinkedIn is now asking for more of a commitment from you. The good news is that you can trial the paid features for 3 months (it used to just be 1 month) to see if you like this interface and can tangibly measure the results you get.

The Key Buyer Research Behaviour to Consider

The world is changing at a rapid pace, and a direct selling approach is just one of a number of methods you can use to achieve sales conversion. You will hear more and more people talking about pipelines, touch points and sales processes that are based on attracting clients to their business. Here are the changes in online buyer research behaviour you therefore need to factor into your decision about how to use some of the features of LinkedIn’s premium and paid options.

1. How People Make Purchase Decisions Has Changed

Most people now appreciate that the internet has changed how we make purchase decisions. For retailers, it has brought the shop to your device and so product reviews are often what drives final purchase decisions.

This approach also takes place for potential clients who are researching your business, the services you offer and what people say about you. In an ideal world, assuming you and your team are doing a great job and people are referring you, then some of your potential clients are researching you online. You may have been recommended by one of your clients, or by someone in your network who is also in theirs.

It is therefore essential that your online presence, which includes your website, LinkedIn Profile and social media platforms, is strong and presenting the best version of you and your business.

2. Direct Selling Is One of a Number of Approaches

Why can’t I just get Sales Navigator and send lots of Inmails? You can! It’s a numbers game and you will convert some of your clients with this approach. Whenever I get the salesy messages or InMails via LinkedIn I ask the sender how well this strategy works for them. I’m told their conversion rate is normally around 2-3%, which is acceptable for some organisations if the focus is on short term sales results only. For those who use InMails as one of a number of touch points, their results are more effective. Conversion is the longer term goal.

3. Consider a Content Marketer’s Approach to LinkedIn

A Content Marketing Plan is a powerful way to attract, acquire and engage your community. LinkedIn is a channel to help you do this, and has the added bonus of ensuring you can nurture your contacts further through regular comments (on updates or articles shared) and via messaging.

What is The Right Approach on LinkedIn to Achieve Results?

In a recent LinkedIn consultation a client asked me ‘How do I convert on LinkedIn?’ This is a common question I am asked. My answer was ‘Converse and you will eventually convert on LinkedIn’. This does of course assume your profile is well written, your personal branding is consistent, you are very tuned into and understand your client’s problems and how you and your team provide solutions and help your clients.

The bottom line is that I believe being too salesy on LinkedIn is sleazy, and that the magic happens on LinkedIn over time, when you have invested in daily rituals that include a focus on:

  • Building and raising your profile, by sharing consistent and valuable content.
  • Focusing on conversations and relationships, by using the many opportunities LinkedIn offers you to personally message your connection or engage in group discussions. or comment at the end of LinkedIn Pulse articles.
  • Conducting advanced searches (which has much greater functionality with the paid membership options) and knowing how to write great messages on LinkedIn

Re-think How to Use LinkedIn as a Sales Tool

The good news is that you can take a more thoughtful and strategic approach and invest in a Premium Account to:

  • search prospects methodically
  • send Inmails explaining how you are connected or why you noticed their profile
  • briefly share how you or your business might be able to help them
  • suggest how they can learn more
  • follow up with an invitation to connect.

It’s all about how you approach this and making sure you are clear about where you can add value and being respectful in the way you make contact. At it’s heart, LinkedIn is simply a rich database of over 460 million professionals across the globe. But where I see people go wrong is in their approach. It is very appealing to think you can use your connections on LinkedIn to just:

  • send direct sell messages via messaging
  • send salesy Inmail or group messages
  • export your connection’s emails and add them to your mailing list (which you can no longer do yourself with the new update, you must request this from LinkedIn)

I do not recommend this approach.

If you are surprised that I am recommending you do not use LinkedIn this way, please ask yourself this question . . . Do I like being sold to? Think about how you feel when someone you don’t know invites you to connect on LinkedIn.

You accept their invitation to connect.

They then proceed to endorse you for skills even though they don’t even know you.

And then comes the salesy message with a special ‘offer’ you ‘do not want to miss out on’!

In my experience, people do not like to be sold to and would prefer to:

  • have a chat
  • learn more about you (which is why a great profile and publishing on LinkedIn matters)
  • be sent more information about your services (if you ask them permission to do this).

By being more considered in your approach and understanding the role LinkedIn plays as a touchpoint between you and your potential clients, it can be a more effective sales tool for your business.

Am I a Sales Person or a Content Marketer?

One of my clients once told me he believes I am always selling. He is right and wrong (sorry Glenn). I do my best to listen to my clients and understand the current challenges they are facing in their business. I create and share content that helps them deal with these challenges. I am also very clear about what I want to be known for and who I would like to influence when I am on LinkedIn. This focus is a time saver and drives most of my behaviour when engaging with others on LinkedIn, either via messaging or when I comment on connection’s updates.

I understand the role touch points play in the decision making process. In terms of my role as a content marketer, if you are reading this blog post, hopefully the insights I am sharing are making sense to you. If this is the case, you may be nodding your head and saying to yourself ‘she knows where I am at and could help me with LinkedIn’. This helps explain my approach. It’s less salesy and builds a more sustainable business model. My goal is to add genuine value and help people navigate LinkedIn more effectively to help them achieve their goals.

Of course my end goal is conversion, but it is combined with a genuine desire to work collaboratively with my community, meaning conversion with the clients I want to build long term partnerships with takes time.

How I can Help You With Your LinkedIn Strategy

It is essential to remember that LinkedIn is simply one of a number of touch points your potential clients (if you are a business) and potential employers (if you are thinking about your next career move) can use to research you. So it’s a good time to keep that in perspective. I believe NOTHING replaces the value of relationships and personal referrals. And many of the best jobs are not advertised . .

I enjoy showing my career and B2B clients how to leverage the power of LinkedIn for personal and organisational branding, networking, daily sales rituals, job search and thought leadership.

I welcome the opportunity to work with clients who have just updated their website, implemented a new CRM or adopted a newsletter opt-in and email nurture campaign. Why? Because it means you are ready to launch this new phase of your business growth and I can help you make all these touch points work even HARDER.

How do you plan to make the most of the Re-design?