How to Be Successful on LinkedIn
I’m not a LinkedIn coach, I don’t sell courses for £997 not do I sell a ‘power hour’ for £97. So, what qualifies me to write about getting business off LinkedIn? Well, most of my new business comes from LinkedIn. I actually do it. Now my experience may differ to yours, but at the end of the day there are some best practices that would work for most people. I have broken these down into 10 sections, each one dealing with a different aspect. Look at each of these and apply them to your situation.
The Golden Rule
The golden rule for being on LinkedIn is why you are on LinkedIn. If you’re merely here to sell, it may not work for you. If you’re here because you want to engage, inform, partake, and enjoy the platform, then you may well end up selling on it. That is because people buy from people, not constant spamming. Go in with the right mindset and you may even start selling by accident. The other thing to consider is if your clients are on this platform. If you sell to stay-at-home mums with new-borns, then this may not be the place for you. If you’re selling to business owners, then this is it. You don’t always have to post about work though, I have often got direct leads from posts that have nothing to do with spreadsheets. I’ll tell you more about that later, but for now just get started with the right attitude. Help people, engage with their posts, partake in what is going on. This will then help you to see the best results from the rest of the advice to follow.
Updating Your Profile
Updating your profile is key, and there is one part of this that is even more key than others. In fact, if you learn one thing from this entire blog post, learn this. Make sure your headline is accurate, and efficient from the first word. In case you’re wondering, the headline is the bit on mine that starts with “Creator of custom spreadsheets for all businesses..”. The reason I say to focus on that, is because the first few words appear every time you comment and engage on other posts. Some people may not click on your profile, so they won’t see your banner, work experience, about section, or any other information. They do see you comment day after day, they see your posts about your kids or the coffee you just had. All they see if your profile picture and the first part of your headline. In fact, have a look at how much of your headline shows when you comment, and then make sure that you can tell exactly what you offer from that. People engage with me, comment, chat on threads and messages, and every time they do so, see that I create custom spreadsheets for businesses like theirs. After a while, that sinks in. Trust me, you can get leads from that alone, without any other effort. Don’t neglect the rest of the profile though. The banner is like a billboard, use it. The profile picture is important, use a professional looking picture. The about me section is vital, because that’s where people look to get more information. So, when your headline draws them in and they want to find out more, they will look at your about me section, so don’t neglect that. The rest, quite frankly, is nice to have. Update it, but don’t sweat over it. There are some new features for contacting you, like adding a number, website, etc, make sure those are up to date so people can contact you easily. One last thing I’ll say about your profile. Your profile picture is set to only show to 1st connections as a default. I would change that to show to everyone. Some people won’t connect with you if they don’t see a profile picture. If you are looking for a job, then make sure the previous experience is up to date and valid. If you’re trying to drum up work for your business, I think that is less important.
What To Post
This is where the marketing bit comes in, and knowing who your customers are, and what you want to say to them. There is lots to consider here, but I’ll tell you one thing. Vary your posts. If everything you post is about business, you won’t get the engagement you need. If nothing is about business, you won’t come across as knowing your business. Here are some of the types of posts that I rotate:
1. Funny – Not necessarily a joke, but something funny or silly.
2. Life Lesson – Something I learned from a situation that relates to a life lesson – LinkedIn seems to love these.
3. Personal – I’m not talking about deeply personal, just something interesting about the you behind your business.
4. Business – Some marketing or advertising, new product etc.
5. Informative – Something where you show that you know what you’re talking about, by showing others something about your industry.
This gives people a well-rounded view of you. They feel that they know you (personal), they feel that you are about more than just work (life lesson), they (hopefully) think you’re funny (funny), they know what your business does (business) and they believe you’re an expert (informative). If they are constantly reminded about the 5 things above and are always seeing what you do (in your headline), then the enquiries will follow. You can mix these up as videos, images, polls, etc, depending on what suits each post. Just post a variety otherwise people get bored.
When To Post
I’ve seen many posts about this, and done my own research, and it varies. I don’t think there is a best time to post, but I will say that some of the times that you think may not be a good time, actually is. I thought people would check LinkedIn during office hours, but many are working, and check it after hours. Evenings are often a good time to post, as are weekends. I usually keep the more personal posts for weekends when people are in the relaxed mindset, and post the business posts late afternoon, so that people see it then and in the evening. Avoid the obvious dead times (middle of the night and late at night) and you’ll be fine (unless you have overseas clients that you are catering for). How often should you post? This is up to you. I would say that if a week goes by and you haven’t posted, you need to. If you post more than once a day, they could just get lost in the noise or seen as spam. Therefore, anything from once a week to once a day, ideally something in between.
What Not To Post
I hope I don’t need to say this, but I’ll do so just in case. Don’t steal other people’s posts and try and pass them off as your own. This is rife on LinkedIn. You’ll see a somewhat viral post, and then you’ll see the same post 20 more times by different people, all trying to claim it was their story. People see this, and your credibility is smashed. It may never recover. Please don’t do this. Also, be careful when posting stories about other people (even if you don’t mention their names). If the other party reads it and comments, you could end up with egg on your face. Another thing I will say about this is that the LinkedIn bots are quick to ban people and have no concept of sarcasm. Someone posted a picture of them doing something silly, and someone else called them a ‘monster’ in jest (smiley face and all), the original poster saw the funny side. They commentor was then banned for ‘hate speech and bullying’. Seriously, you need to be careful what you say because these bots have no idea about banter or sarcasm, and they will block you. Having said that, if you want to tell someone off, the sarcasm thing may work in your favour. Also, there are some completely valid political points that are frowned upon on LinkedIn. If it’s not politically correct, you may get warned and banned. How far you push this is up to you, just keep it in mind. Other than that, you may get told by the self-appointed ‘LinkedIn Police’ that your post ‘belongs on Facebook’, but I just ignore them because they’re just jealous.
I often get asked by people if they need a business page as well as a personal profile. I have both and use both. People are less likely to follow a business page than to connect with you. The business pages also seem to get less reach. Having said that, I think there is a need for them. I have a few hundred followers of my page, but many who follow the page do not follow me personally. I think this may be because they don’t want to know what I’m up to personally, but they want to follow business updates. I only post relevant posts through the business page (marketing, informative, etc), nothing personal. This gives people the choice to follow me or the business or both. It also gives me the opportunity to share my business posts with my personal connects (which is a much larger list). Another advantage of a business page is that it has analytics, so you can see how your posts and campaigns compare. This is quite useful when deciding on your marketing tactics. All in all, I will say it is worth having a business page, just make sure you keep posting through it. Each month I add a few new followers to my page, which can’t hurt.
Growing Your Network
This is very important but needs to be done properly. If you have specific people to do business with (industry type, business type, or location), then search for such people and send them connection requests. A message to say why you wish to connect will go a long way, but possibly not essential. People are usually quite keen to connect if your profile looks legitimate. If, like me, you could do business with anyone, then connect away. There are a few things to consider. Firstly, you want to connect with people who are active on the platform, so anyone who comments or engages with your posts is a good start. If you engage on their posts, that’s also a good reason to connect. As these people have interacted with you, the chances of them accepting your request is much higher. You know they’re active, and you also know that you have something in common. If you check your connections, the number should go up every month, so you should actively be looking to connect with people. The more connections, the more eyes on your content, and the more 2nd connections (who also see your content). Obviously, this depends on your marketing plan and who you are marketing to but keep that list growing. One thing to be aware of, the silly LinkedIn bots again. They are looking for spammers who request connections in bulk. So, every now and then, check how many connections you have sent (go to network, invitations, and then manage them). You should be able to see all the currently outstanding connection requests you have received or requested. Deal with the received ones (accept or decline) but make sure you keep the requested ones below 100 (we think that’s the number to use). So, withdraw the older ones, and send out more, but never have more than 100 outstanding at once. If you do, it will think you are spamming, and it will penalise you.
Here’s the bit where I tell you to send out cold direct messages. Instead, I won’t. Now, please don’t get me wrong, a custom direct message could very well produce sales, but if you go down that road please make sure it is tailored to who you are sending it to. A generic message or one where a computer has substituted the [Insert name here] nonsense, will go up in flames eventually. I have sent messages out and got no return on them. Now, I simply rely on incoming leads where people contact me. It is far less stressful and more pleasant for both parties. How do you get people to send you enquiries? Well, if you’ve followed the above and doing it right, this should start happening sooner or later. My point with including this section, is that you don’t have to go chasing. If you are doing all that I have mentioned above, business should come to you. Yes, it takes time to build relationships, so sometimes a DM is required to speed things up, but then it has to be tailored, so you can’t just go spamming everyone. One thing I did for a while (and may do again) is making an introductory video, simply introducing yourself, something about you, and what you do (in 30 seconds) which you can then send to new connections as they connect. I received a few and I certainly didn’t mind them. When you get a “Thanks for connecting, now buy my stuff” messages, I usually just disconnect (and I’m not the only one who does so).
Other Things To Consider
You commenting on other people’s posts, can often get you recognised by people who are not connected with you. That is a good way to grow your network. If you comment on another post, and someone engages with you (positively), then send them a connection request. Something to remember when posting or commenting is that you represent your brand. Some post vile comments without the slightest thought of what people will think of them. Now, while I don’t condone acting purely based on what others may think, you do need to take this into consideration. The main thing is to enjoy the platform. Think of it as a face-to-face networking event, but virtually. Chat to people, share a laugh, tell them about you, share about your business, etc. Don’t be rude, don’t look for conflict, and be yourself.
Other Marketing Principals Apply
I’ve given you some advice in this post, but please look at all of this through your own marketing plan. If you have specific people to market to, or a specific message to get across, all of this is subject to that plan. You need to establish the marketing plan before rushing into action here, and that takes preference. If you discover that your target audience is not even on LinkedIn, my advice is to leave it alone. It takes time, all platforms do. In fact, I’ve left most of them (for business) in favour of LinkedIn, so that I can pour all of my time into this one to get it right. I don’t want to rush 5 platforms, when I can focus on 1. I suggest you consider the same when you know where your clients will be, especially if you are the one running the business and doing the social media. If you have a team to do this, then go for many platforms.
So, there you have it, my plan. It’s not rocket science, and I think most people can do this to a certain degree and see the results. Now I have had a specific approach because my business is fairly unique. You may have a more common business (web designer, accountant, etc) so you may need to do more to promote why you differ to others, rather than what you offer, but that is all about your marketing plan. The LinkedIn plan should be similar. I hope that this has helped you in some way, and that you now have a better idea of how to tackle LinkedIn. I wish you all the best, and I hope to see you on the platform. In fact, please connect with me (both links below). All the best.