LinkedIn can be a major business generator, especially if you’re in B2B (business to business). You just have to know which tactics are worth your time, and which aren’t.
To help you get more out of the #1 social media platform for B2B marketers, we’ve put together this list of tips for how to get more exposure, leads and business from LinkedIn. I hope you can pick up at least a few ideas from the items below, whether you’re a LinkedIn beginner or a seasoned pro.
1) Use a professional-quality photograph for your headshot.
This is one of the first things people see when they’re scanning profiles. So don’t use a photograph that belongs on a hobby forum. In other words:
- Don’t use photographs of your pet for your headshot.
- No “artsy” shadowy photographs, or photos of just part of your face.
- No high school photographs. Your photo should have been taken within the last five years.
- No photos that are cropped group photos. You should be the only person in the photo. There is one possible exception: if you’ve got a photo of you with Richard Branson or another globally recognized business personality.
- No photos you wouldn’t include on your resume if you were doing an in person interview.
If you’re not sure if your current photo is good enough, consider using PhotoFeeler, a free online tool that lets other users rate your Facebook or LinkedIn profile photo based on how competent, likable and influential you appear to them.
The online tool PhotoFeeler gives you feedback about your Facebook or LinkedIn profile photo, based on what other PhotoFeeler users think of it.
Want extra credit? Split-test your headshot. Run a couple of headshots through PhotoFeeler. Use the one that gets the highest score. It just might get you more business.
2) Set up both a company and a personal LinkedIn page.
This is for those of you who own a business. You want the personal page so you can publish posts and participate in LinkedIn groups. You want the company page so you can do sponsored updates. Sponsored updates are a way to promote business-related content on LinkedIn. They’re like Twitter promoted tweets, or promoted posts on Facebook. LinkedIn expert Melonie Dodaro says she’s gotten massive exposure from her sponsored updates, even when she has just a $100 budget.
3) Start republishing your best long-form blog posts on LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform.
LinkedIn offers every user an amazing tool to show off their expertise. You don’t even have to write unique content for it. Just repost content from your blog, or (with permission) from guest posts you’ve written. You may get more exposure for the LinkedIn posts than the other publications ever got.
For exhaustive data-driven details on how to get more exposure for your LinkedIn posts, check out Paul Shapiro’s post, “We Analyzed the 3,000 Most Successful LinkedIn Publishing Posts“ published on Noah Kagan’s blog. He explains how long LinkedIn posts should be, how long their headlines should be, how many subheaders and images to use, and more.
4) Get to more than 500 connections
And don’t just accept connections from anyone. Some LinkedIn users certainly have benefitted from accepting all connection requests (also referred to as being a “LION” or participating in “LinkedIn Open Networking), but several LinkedIn experts say it’s time to be more choosy. So only accept invites from people in your industry (at least) or people you actually know or would like to know (for business… no dating through LinkedIn profiles, please).
Here’s a secret trick to get more connections: Follow micro influencers and prospective clients on Twitter. About a week after they’ve followed you back, send them a customized LinkedIn invite. Mention you’re both following each other on Twitter, and you thought it would be nice to connect on LinkedIn, too. I’m still getting a 70%+ acceptance rate with this tactic.
5) Don’t send hollow sales pitches to your connections right off the bat.
Ever. Not even if your sales manager is hounding you.
People hate connecting with someone and then getting hit with a sales pitch. If you want to build a relationship with someone, do it in an acceptable way. Like and comment on their posts. Reshare their social media posts. Comment on their blog and their LinkedIn updates and group comments. Take at least a dozen actions like that before you send them InMail. And even then, only be helpful. Do not just bust out and ask when they can be available to schedule a demo or an assessment call.
— Russell O’Sullivan (@russosullivan) November 6, 2015
6) Start liking and commenting on other people’s LinkedIn updates.
Think you’ve got no time for LinkedIn networking? Come on. You can’t scroll through a few updates and click “like” a couple of times? Make a habit of it – and maybe even add a comment now and again – and people will start to recognize you. As you become a known quantity to them, they’re more likely to like your content… and maybe even reply to your emails and calls.
This one post has two comments and a like. How long do you think it took to write a sentence or two, or just to click the like link?
7) Join a few LinkedIn groups – and start participating.
Set a timer for ten minutes if you’re worried this might consume your day. It doesn’t have to, and it’s one of the best ways to become better known in your industry. There are some rules of engagement in LinkedIn groups, and each group is a little different. Want a primer? Read Barry Feldman’s KissMetrics post on the subject to refine your Group interaction skills.
8) Share your content.
Share content on LinkedIn groups (only in relevant groups, and only according to the group’s rules). Share it in your feed.
But don’t share only your own content… share other people’s content, too. Otherwise you’ll be at risk of either being boring or being self-centered. Both are deadly sins on social media.
Want some tips for how to format your posts so they get more engagement? See Octopost’s infographic, “Socially Driven B2B Marketing” for more ideas. One key tip: The average length of a post that converts on LinkedIn is 248 characters.
9) Recommend people who deserve it.
Recommendations are definitely a way to build your reputation. But you’ve got to give to get. Fortunately, giving recommendations is also a great way to get people’s attention. Along the way, you’ll probably pick up a few recommendations for your work. People really appreciate getting a recommendation, especially if they didn’t have to ask for it. Often they’ll be so appreciative that they’ve write one for you, just because you wrote one for them.
Here’s the deal, though: Only recommend people who’s work you know well. Ideally, that means you’ve worked with them for at least a few months. But even a one-time freelance gig can be enough legitimate experience to recommend someone. Just stick to the facts and always be professional. And – as always – try your very, very, very best to only say positive things on social media.
Sujan Patel has 21 recommendations, but these two are featured at the top of his recommendations page. You can also see how many recommendations he’s given – it’s in the upper right hand corner of this screenshot.
10) Endorse people for skills you know they’ve got.
Endorsements are easier than recommendations. You don’t have to know someone as well to endorse them for a couple of skills. And it only takes a few clicks, versus having to write a couple of paragraphs. So endorse away. Just don’t go overboard. Endorse for only 2-3 skills at a time. And don’t endorse for skills you’re not sure of.
If you know someone’s work, it’s nice to endorse them for a few skills. I know Jordie from his blog and his posts on GetResponse, so I can definitely endorse him as being a skilled email marketer.
11) Optimize your profile for LinkedIn’s search… and other search engines.
LinkedIn has a search engine. Some people use it just for the search engine. So it’s important to sprinkle your profile with keywords, and, of course, to fill out your profile completely. See this Inc.com blog post for more specifics on how to optimize your profile.
12) Use LinkedIn’s Inmails the right way.
Chris Reed wrote a whole post for us about how to do this recently. Want just one key take away from that article? Don’t use Inmail to sell; use it to build connections and get people on the phone.
13) Join as many LinkedIn groups as you can.
Why? It makes prospecting and network-building easier. If you’re a member of a Group with someone, you’ll be able to send them an invite or a message. To do this, go to the Group you’ve both a part of, then go to the Group’s member list. Find who you want to send a message to. Click the “Send message” link next to their member listing.
You can message up to 15 people every month through this loophole. And hat tip to Melonie Dodaro for this tip!
14) Leverage your SlideShare assets on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn owns SlideShare, which gives you all kinds of cool ways to weave the two platforms together. And that to the fact that SlideShare is one of the best and more underused ways to promote B2B content (still!) and there are plenty of motivations to get busy.
Want just one reason? You can embed a lead generation form in your SlideShares. You can even require people to fill it out if they want to see the SlideShare.
Robert Rose, Content Marketing Strategist, Author & Speaker for The Content Marketing Institute, has a series of SlideShares embedded into his LinkedIn profile page. This is what it looks like if you click on any of them. The integration between LinkedIn and SlideShare is becoming better and better.
15) Launch your own Group on LinkedIn.
Got even a modest audience? Getting at least a couple of comments on every blog post you publish? You may have enough of an engaged audience to pull off a LinkedIn Group.
Why start a LinkedIn Group? It positions your company as a thought leader, for starters. It also gives you a special area of LinkedIn that’s much more under your control. And it gives you another channel to promote your content, expertise and services. Oh yeah – and it’s free!
Just be careful you’ve got enough of an audience to launch. Otherwise, it can be awkward to have a Group that’s pretty much dead. Think this might be for you? Read Kapost’s blog post about how they created and manage the largest group on LinkedIn for content marketers.
B2B marketers are getting more out of LinkedIn all the time. You can too. It doesn’t have to take tons of time or money, either. Just choose a few simple tasks to do each day, and always be authentic in how you communicate with people. Even though it’s a B2B platform, you’ll actually do far better on LinkedIn if you don’t sound overly corporate or salesy.
What’s working for you on LinkedIn these days? Got any tips I didn’t mention? Share one or two with us in the comments.