Most business owners know that they could – and should – be using LinkedIn more effectively to build their businesses. But what exactly should they be doing? I think I use LinkedIn pretty effectively, but I wanted to reach out to an expert for the best tactics.
Phil Gerbyshak trains sales people to get more leads, earn more referrals and close more business by integrating social selling techniques into their sales process. Phil recently published a new eBook, “LinkedIn Daily Dozen – 12 things you can do every day on LinkedIn to grow your network, build your business and make more sales.”
Below is an interview with Phil on how small business owners can get the most from LinkedIn.
Catherine: We all know that LinkedIn is important for job search, but why is it important for small business owners as well?
Phil: People are researching you – and your business – online. LinkedIn is one of the first places they will find if they do a search for you, whether you like it or not. That’s reason number 1.
Reason number 2 is because if you want referrals (and to be able to ask for specific referrals to a specific person from one of your connections), LinkedIn is the place to be.
Catherine: Are there certain types of businesses that need to be active on LinkedIn? Certain types that don’t?
Phil: I don’t think it will hurt any business by being on LinkedIn, but I see much less benefit for those who sell products from using LinkedIn.
As far as who needs to be active, I think everyone else can benefit from being active, and in being active often. Take 15 minutes a day and do some prospecting for leads, research on meetings you’ll have that day, and dig through the networks of the people you’re about to meet with so you can ask for referrals.
Catherine: What’s the best way to reach out to people you don’t know?
Phil: Be as relevant as possible – and don’t try to sell them anything online. I call this making friends first – and doing business last. It’s the social part of social media. Look at their profile and see what you have in common. If there’s nothing in common, see what’s opposite or something you can remark on. Use that to reach out.
Catherine: How do you recommend people keep in touch with people they do know to keep the relationship “warm”?
Phil: First, categorize your contacts. Export them regularly to a CRM system like Nimble or Contactually, and share relevant information with them to keep them warm. It could be your content. It could be something you read somewhere else. But stay relevant.
And now and then, pick up the phone and call to talk about what you shared – and what they’ve shared on social – and on what you see they need based on their postings, or based on what you know about the market.
Always be adding value. Don’t just check in.
Catherine: What are some things small business owners should do every day to take advantage of the power of LinkedIn?
Phil: I’ll give you 3 simple things:
1 – Look to see who looked at your profile. Look back at their profile. See if you can figure out how you might of service to them – or them to you. Send an InMail or do some more digging to see who you know who knows them, and ask for an introduction.
2 – Accept all relevant connection requests – and respond but don’t accept the others, if they look like real people. Every day, people will be trying to connect to you. Some invitations will come from real people, some from people who are just trying to pad their LinkedIn numbers or connect with you to reach into your network and spam your connections. It’s your job to discern the real ones and respond to the rest because they may be real, but you won’t know unless you respond.
3 – Do an advanced search and send 3-5 personalized, relevant connection requests and/or requests for introductions. You know who your target market is and who your ideal customer is. Search for them and when you find them, if you have someone in common, ask for an introduction. Second level is best, because it means they are someone in your network’s first level connection and they can directly connect you. If you don’t know anyone in common, review their profile and send a personalized and relevant request to connect. If they accept your connection, reach out and start a conversation. If they don’t, let it go.
Catherine: As you can see, none of this is very difficult. But, like most things, you’ll get more value if you show up and engage consistently. Relationships take time and nurturing. Think of it as something you need to add into the mix of running your small business.
For more great advice, download a copy of “LinkedIn Daily Dozen” here.