How to use LinkedIn to forge a stronger chain of sales success

Build a lead network on LinkedIn

While personal social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter can be used with limited success for building client relationships, LinkedIn is almost a perfect online forum to do business. Whether trying to build a client base or a wider audience of decision makers for future opportunities, LinkedIn provides a number of different ways to sell and market your services that can have a positive impact your bottom line.

Taking advantage of LinkedIn is as easy as making new connections and creating actionable information that will help produce solid returns later.

LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 347 million members in 200 countries. Yet few people realize just how wide their social reach is until they plug their accounts into LinkedIn. It’s a perfect place to start searching for a lead network. But how?

The Do’s

Here are a few things you should do to expand your LinkedIn reach and create a network of people interested in you and your services:

Make your presence known.

Every expert on the subject offers the same great advice: fill out everything in your profile, be open and transparent about who you are and what you do, and participate socially on the network. You’ll gain the attention of those interested in what you have to offer as well as access to their networks by, well, networking. Use your expertise to demonstrate that you’re in a position of authority, and find people who seem like a good fit for your service.

Look for and use common denominators.

An often overlooked tool on LinkedIn is the profile page of your current customers. Unless they keep their own networks private, you might find potential clients who are already linked to your existing clientele. (If you don’t connect to your clients on LinkedIn, change that. Now.) There is no better referral for prospective clients than word-of-mouth from their colleagues who are your satisfied, happy customers.

And if you’ve already identified potentially good fits for your business, there’s nothing stopping you from asking those clients you’re connected with to put in a good word for you. Not only does this strengthen your line of communication with existing clients, it creates a warm, actionable lead to work with.

Use LinkedIn’s built-in networking abilities.

One of the most interesting things about LinkedIn is its ability to allow people to find similar interests quickly and effectively. LinkedIn also tells you who’s been looking at people like you, which gives you the ability to network very quickly. Make use of LinkedIn’s groups to establish yourself as an expert on subject matter.

Another huge advantage LinkedIn gives is its own internal messaging service, InMail. It’s easier to use this service than trying to find an email of somebody you’d like to contact — and there’s a much better chance of a response.

The Don’ts

That said, here are a few things NOT to do on LinkedIn, as they’re proven to have poor or even negative results:

If you’re a salesperson, sell — don’t be salesy.

That may sound contradictory, but it isn’t. Your profile and visibility on LinkedIn should portray you as a leader in your field. Save the pitches and deal closers for direct communication with leads. Projecting how great your product is into the ether is a great way to accomplish a whole heap o’ nothing and turn people off when you do try to reach out to them.

Don’t hound your connections.

While it’s good to have a connection in common with a potential lead, don’t hound your connections for a referral. Why? It’s not necessary! If your connections say they’ll try to put in a good word for you sometime, that’s all you need to start running. Contact your potential lead, mention that you have a connection in common and name-drop that individual for what they’re worth. Most of the time, your word will be sufficient anyway and you’ll have closed a deal. Plus if they double-check, you’ve covered your bases there too!

Remember, this is LinkedIn, not Facebook or Pinterest.

The founders of LinkedIn created the site as a business-oriented social networking service for use by professionals. This is not the place to post pics of the kale and quinoa pizza you had at the new gastropub, hilarious cat videos, celebrity polls or a 140-character critique of the administration’s latest foreign policy initiatives. Save that for the other online media socializing. People are on LinkedIn to make professional connections and conduct business. Behave accordingly.

All in all, LinkedIn is increasingly one of the best ways to prospect, build warm leads and even close sales. Build a network and reach out. Your next sale is waiting!