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Reinvent Your Marketing and Business Development With LinkedIn

If your company has always relied heavily on face-to-face interactions and live events, you are probably faced with a big question: How do I help my company keep moving its marketing and business development forward?

LinkedIn has long become one of the most powerful business tools for 21st-century brand building, professional networking, lead generation, and more. Yet, for many B2B and professional services companies, it’s often underutilized or misused.

With all in-person meetings and events indefinitely on hold, mastering the “how” of using LinkedIn is instrumental for:

  • Reinforcing your company’s brand, increasing its visibility and reach, and remaining top of mind.
  • Expanding your network, building relationships and generating and nurturing leads.
  • Establishing an expert position, promoting thought leadership and becoming a valuable resource for your prospects, clients and partners in these challenging times and beyond.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Before you can successfully conduct business on LinkedIn, make sure that yours and your company’s key employees’ profiles, as well as the company page, help rather than hinder your progress.

LinkedIn profiles have a higher first-page placement in search results than corporate websites, which means that your prospects may visit LinkedIn first. Do your client-facing employees – leadership, business development/sales, marketing, account/project managers and HR – make the best first impression? Do their profiles build credibility and trust?

The reputation of a company’s leadership is directly responsible for 44% of a company’s market value. – Forbes Magazine

Additionally, LinkedIn uses your profile information to make recommendations to you and about you so you want it to be current, focused and accurate.

Basic Info

Think of this section as your business card (or a name tag) and a virtual handshake.

  • Headshot. Use a professional headshot with you as the only person in the photo.
  • Background photo. Encourage all employees to use branded company images. Develop a series of images with options for employees to select what’s most relevant to them (for example, representing their area of practice or office location).
  • Headline. Identify keywords that are more than a job title but communicate your specific expertise and the value you offer.
  • Custom URL. The original URL that LinkedIn assigns contains a bunch of numbers and letters and is unsightly. Edit it to show your name only (you may need to tweak how your name is displayed based on the URL availability).

About

This section should sound more like your professional story rather than your resume. What is your value proposition? What do you bring to the relationship? What is your passion, why do you do what you do (remember Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”)?

  • Write this to attract your ideal audience – think of the single most important customer persona you want to attract and tailor it to them.
  • Make sure the message and value proposition are relevant and sensitive in the current situation.

All employees should include consistent, unified, on-brand language and keywords to describe your organization.

Experience

When making changes to the Experience section, make sure to switch off the “share with network” toggle – otherwise, it will look like you and everyone at your company is changing jobs.

List work history with detailed information for experience that adds value and delete any jobs that are no longer relevant.

Make sure that all employees have your company listed as their current place of employment. Although obvious, you’d be surprised how often this is not the case!

Other Sections

List your education, volunteer activities and add other sections that will help you identify common interests with others. Did you go to the same school? Are you supporting the same causes? These are valuable connection points!

Profile Visibility

Make sure your information is visible to the public by switching on “Your Profile’s Public Visibility” toggle and options underneath (see “Edit public profile & custom URL” in the right sidebar).

Optimize Your Company Page

  • If you don’t have a company page, create one right now and optimize it using the same rules as we discussed for your profile. Make sure to use branded language for the About section.
  • Keep in mind that your company page must appeal to both prospective clients and talent, so its images, messages and content have to be developed with that in mind.
  • Add videos to make the page more engaging. Statistically, people favor video content and many prefer receiving messages over video.
  • If you have a Careers page associated with your firm’s company page, you will be able to add a “Life” or “What We Do” section to showcase your company culture by adding photos, employee spotlights and other recruitment focused information.
  • Make sure all employees follow your page, share and engage with your company’s content.

Making Connections

Have a Strategy

Making connections on LinkedIn is a virtual equivalent of prospecting and networking. And just like you don’t go to every networking event – or join every professional organization – but select them strategically based on who your “ideal” clients are and where they congregate, you have to have a strategy for growing your network on LinkedIn.

The goal is not to have thousands of connections, but to build meaningful and personalized professional relationships with highly curated contacts.

LinkedIn offers a powerful search for targeting job titles, companies, industries, services, geographies and more. Narrow your searches using filters to zero in on the most qualified prospects and industry influencers.

Identify your connection gaps:

  • Are you connected to all of your clients?
  • Are you connected to all decision makers at your larger accounts?
  • If your company has recently opened a new office, identify connections specific to that location to help the new office ramp up their marketing and business development efforts. You don’t have to go anywhere to do this!

Connecting Best Practices

Based on your profile, LinkedIn will make connection recommendations. Each suggested connection has a “connect” button – don’t click on it as it will immediately send a generic connection request. Instead, connect by going to an individual’s profile and connecting from there, which will give you an option to personalize your request.

Adding a personal note is a must. If someone doesn’t know you and you don’t meet their “desired connection criteria,” most people will not connect unless you give them a compelling reason.

Anticipate their question, “What’s in it for me?” Could you have met before? Did you go to the same school? Do you do work in the same industry? Make your note compelling and personal enough that people will want to connect with you.

Being strategic also goes for accepting connections. You don’t have to connect with everyone who sends you a request. But when you do connect, send a personal note through LinkedIn messaging – start building the relationship.

LinkedIn Etiquette

The big question for everyone right now is: How do we engage with prospects and clients without it looking like we are in a sales mode?

The short answer is: be authentic, be empathetic, be genuinely caring. Help them! Even if it’s not a part of your scope or typical offerings.


Related Article: Is It OK to Go Back to Marketing as Usual Yet?


Focus on high touches vs. sales pitches. If you have nothing timely and helpful to offer at this moment, reach out via LinkedIn messaging just to check in, ask how they are doing. We all appreciate it right now.

  • Never use new connections to immediately start promoting your company or do anything that can be perceived as a sales pitch.
  • Once someone accepts your connection, send a personalized note through LinkedIn messaging. Thank them for connecting. Ask if you can help. Offer to grab a quick intro call or a cup of coffee if appropriate.
  • And finally, take the time to get to know people! Have a real human conversation. Don’t be that person we see at networking events who shoves a business card in your hand, rattles off a scripted sales pitch and runs. Nobody likes that person!

Employee Education

Educate employees on the importance of making connections on LinkedIn and how to do so effectively. For example, encourage them to connect with people they just met or are about to meet, always personalize connection requests and, in general, approach making connections on LinkedIn with the same level of care they use to approach networking and building relationships in “real life.”


Need help developing a LinkedIn strategy and plan or providing training for your company? We can help!


Consistently Publish Relevant Content

LinkedIn should be a part of your content strategy. Publish consistently through your company page and profile and use both your company’s content and carefully curated outside content and resources that are useful to your audiences.

Use hashtags and mentions in your posts to increase engagement.

But don’t just talk, be part of the conversation! In addition to posting content and responding to any questions and comments, look for ways to interact with content posted by others – especially prospects, clients and industry influencers.

What to Post

Know what content is valuable to your prospects and clients right now for all forms of your internal or external communications.

Before posting anything, ask: Why this? Why Us? Why Now?

If you have something useful to say that helps your audiences, create original content, or repurpose your existing pieces if they are still relevant. Otherwise, find useful content and resources created by others and share it.

And it’s OK to wave in some lighthearted content. We all need it right now. But remember this is not Facebook, so remain professional.

There are several ways you can share content as an Individual and Company:

  • Share a Post. These are your updates that show up in the LinkedIn stream.
  • Post Company Updates. Log in as an administrator and post from your company’s page.
  • Write an Article. These are long-form articles you can publish through LinkedIn publishing platform (different from posts). Articles should only be used for thought leadership content, never for promotion.
  • Sponsored Content. Use paid LinkedIn campaigns to share your timely thought leadership insights with select decision makers who are outside of your LinkedIn network but would benefit from your insights. This form of LinkedIn advertising is very effective because it’s very targeted.

Employee Engagement

Getting employees engaged with your company page and sharing its content on LinkedIn is essential for extending your reach beyond your company’s current network.

Your employee’s networks are often several times larger than you company’s network.

Encourage your employees to share your company’s content to amplify its reach and impact. Use the “notify employees” feature on your company page when you publish new content. It also marks those posts as “employee notified” to help you track engagement in analytics.

To help leverage key pieces of content and major news announcements, develop a series of scripts and share them, including any supporting graphics, with all employees in internal communications.

This not only simplifies sharing but also ensures that all messages are consistent and on-brand.

LinkedIn Groups

Research where your specific audiences congregate (different industries, job roles/titles and professional associations have groups on LinkedIn) and Identify groups that have your prospects and clients as members. Also, pay attention to where your competitors have a strong voice.

Before joining, vet groups for quality. Is a group self-promotional and vendor heavy? Or do people engage in meaningful conversations and discuss industry issues and trends? Monitor conversations and identify opportunities for your experts to contribute answers, advice and content.

Group discussions are also valuable for identifying issues that are top of mind for your audiences. Use this research for your content planning and to identify where your existing content might be helpful to share with the group.

Top 5 Must-take Actions

These are immediate actions you should take:

  1. Optimize Individual Profiles. Make sure that at least all client-facing employees at your company have their profiles fully optimized, current and on-brand.
  2. Maximize the Value of Your Company Page. Make sure all employees follow your page. Post updates at least weekly with the goal of two to three and up to five updates per week.
  3. Reconnect With First Degree Connections. Reach out to your first-degree connections – share useful information and content if you have it, otherwise, just say hello and ask how you can help.
  4. Strategically Expand Your Network. Use LinkedIn searches and send personalized requests.
  5. Publish Relevant Content. Become a resource and help your company promote its thought leadership and stay top of mind through COVID-19 and beyond.

And finally, make LinkedIn a part of your daily activity. Be strategic, intentional and disciplined about it and it will pay off ¬both short- and long-term.


Need help developing a LinkedIn strategy and plan or providing training for your company? We can help!