Why LinkedIn is a Powerful Slow Dance For your Business Growth

As a content marketer I enjoy watching how organisations use the tools available to them to attract, acquire and engage their communities. At the top of many business owner’s to do lists is either a website refresh, personal branding refresh or some form of re-think in terms of their marketing and sales strategy. How we do business and how potential clients find you is changing. Traditional advertising methods are not as effective as they used to be and clients are much more sophisticated and informed, with information at the touch of a button via online searches.

Getting better results from your time on LinkedIn is not rocket science. What my clients enjoy about the way I train LinkedIn and content marketing, is that it’s based on principles you know and trust.

If we haven’t met, it’s important you know that the approach I recommend on LinkedIn is based on collaborative principles, including good manners, relationship building and sustainable growth. If you are interested in mining LinkedIn for contacts to generate lists of people to drop into your direct mail or EDM funnel, then I suggest you may be approaching LinkedIn the wrong way around.

Social media marketing is generally in the mix of ‘to dos’ that businesses feel they need to get on top of or outsource. What used to be a relatively free tool, has become a key method of attracting potential clients and requires a well thought out plan and investment of time and money (assuming you want to get results).

In this Forbes article, Jimmy Rohampton explores the 5 social media trends that will dominate in 2017. They are leading edge, and for the business owner just starting to embrace the reality that they need to have a stronger online presence, they are somewhat confronting (and dare I say disruptive), even for seasoned content marketers. I say this, because Jimmy’s predictions represent another shift in user behaviour, raises the stakes yet again and reinforces the importance of having a strategy for your content and your digital marketing. His predictions cover the following areas:

  1. Social Messaging
  2. The fight against fake news
  3. Authentic content (a.k.a. live video)
  4. Augmented reality
  5. Chatbots

Do You Feel Like You Can’t Keep Up with the Fast Pace of Social Media Marketing?

If you want to know more about these predictions, please read the article. In the mean time, I’d like to reach out to those of you who are newer to social media and are thinking about how you might improve your online voice. You’re probably not that active on Facebook (or you share an account with your partner) or, if you are, you are a relatively private person and feel that ‘social media’ is a black hole that you really do not have the time or energy to get your head around. You’ve probably also realised that you need to be doing something and are not really sure where to start.

If I AM describing you, welcome, you have come to the right place. I enjoy helping values based individuals and organisations who want to make the world an even better place by sharing their products and services with others. My clients want to learn how to navigate LinkedIn to achieve better results with their sales and marketing efforts, and see it as a key touch point for their business, because their main clients are also businesses.

Your efforts on LinkedIn will be strongly influenced by how you engage with others, the content you share and how your LinkedIn Profile looks. The professionalism and relevance of your website is also a consideration in this mix. Please allow me to explain some of these points in more detail.

How to Approach the LinkedIn ‘Dance Floor’

I also liked to refer to this as ‘LinkedIn Etiquette’ and suggest you need to approach LinkedIn and how you engage with others in the same way you would approach a face to face interaction at an industry networking event. This means LinkedIn is just like a virtual room and you need to treat your connections with respect (or ‘like gold’ as you will hear me say when I train LinkedIn). I believe being salesy is tacky and a short term strategy. Think back to those business owners who just want to get your email for their list. It’s like those people who can’t WAIT to throw their business cards at you at speed networking events.

I also suggest you need to have a connection criteria for individuals who invite you to connect, as this is a great opportunity to start conversations with people who are reaching out to you, Yes, I acknowledge that some of these invitations may be from sales people, but if your LinkedIn profile is written well and you are being referred by happy clients, then it will also be potential clients or collaborators who are inviting you to connect. This is certainly the case for me with more than 5 out of 10 of my invitations to connect eventually becoming clients or colleagues I work with. That’s a strong conversion rate, don’t you think?

Those not interested in the slow dance, like to think they need to invest in Sales Navigator or InMails. Of course you can do this, especially if you are reliant on numbers. This approach will yield you some conversion, but you’ll need lots of people in your pipeline to convert 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.

A Content Marketing Plan is also a powerful way to attract, acquire and engage your community. It relies on a good website, great content that genuinely helps your potential clients and a dedicated resource (either within or external to your business) to manage this. 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 LinkedIn is a slow dance, there is no ‘magic bullet’ and 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

With the Linkedin redesign, which was phased in towards the end of 2016, you do need to think about investing in LinkedIn if you want to do more advanced searches for prospecting on LinkedIn. 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 500 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.

It’s a powerful slow dance for your business growth.