LinkedIn now has over 17 million members in the UK, but how many people are actually active on the platform on a regular basis? And how many are using it in a strategic way? Of course, many members are job seekers, so once they have optimised their profiles, they are able to use the site for its original purpose which is job search. Companies are increasingly turning to LinkedIn to advertise career opportunities and screen candidates.
However, it is interesting that I am still receiving invitations to connect from people I have never met in far flung places in industry sectors I have no interest in. If their profiles look interesting I may well accept their invitation to connect but for the most part, I click the x as I know perfectly well I am unlikely to take that particular relationship any further. For the most part, my connections are silent. So is it that most LinkedIn members have missed the point of LinkedIn? Anecdotal evidence suggests that people are tempted by building large numbers of connections rather than building relationships with just a few highly targeted potential clients or strategic alliances.
LinkedIn for Marketing
For marketing and sales, LinkedIn is like a modern day Roladex but with so much more detailed information about each individual. When combined with a good CRM and email system, LinkedIn with its Advanced Search capability, is a great tool for finding, and, more importantly, communicating with prospects. For high volume, low margin products, LinkedIn is probably not the best place for making direct sales but perfect for finding resellers, partners and strategic alliances. For example, if I had developed an add-on service for cloud accounting software, there are a whole raft of potential partnership leads, such as accountants, bookkeepers, virtual assistants, etc. A food manufacturer may be seeking out food service companies, large retailers and restaurant chains.
LinkedIn Communication Process – it’s all in the message
The above diagram shows a simplified communication funnel. Once you have connected to the right people in the right companies, a series of messages is crafted and sent out at intervals to your prospects. The universe of recipients will be large at the top of the funnel. At each stage (working down the funnel) there will be a proportion of people who either respond to the message or click through to a link on your website – these make up your prospects. It is always a good idea to have a message with a lead capture form to identify interested individuals.
At the bottom of the funnel are the best leads who we are able to meet face to face, knowing that they are already well informed about and have a level of trust in your product or service.
All this activity can be carried from within LinkedIn by using tags and keeping good records in the notes and reminders section. To support this messaging, I have listed the other LinkedIn activity you can carry out regularly on the diagram.
So, go into 2015 by using LinkedIn in a more strategic way. After all that one lead which reaches to the bottom of your funnel maybe the most profitable client of the year.