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LinkedIn boasts more than 380 million users worldwide.1 It’s a place to make professional connections and grow your business as a social seller. In other words, it can help you drive sales through online networking. According to LinkedIn, 78 percent of social sellers outsell peers that don’t use social media and social selling leaders create 45 percent more opportunities.2
However, being lumped in with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn has also got a bit of a stigma for some. For many who don’t use it, it can seem daunting or like a complete waste of time.
For many who use it, it’s helped them land jobs, contracts and sales. Dave Crone, National Sales Director for IHC Specialty Benefits, is one such user, and he spoke with us to share why and how you should be, too.
To sum it up before we even begin, it comes down to relationships—establishing new relationships, maintaining existing relationships, and reconnecting with lost connections.
“One of the main things is by being on LinkedIn, it gives the agents and brokers you know as well as those that don’t know you the opportunity to find you on LinkedIn,” Crone says.
A way to warm up cold calls
Because LinkedIn allows users to browse one another’s profiles, it can be a tool that complements your current prospecting methods. You can use it to find leads through current connections and research prospects before contacting them and vice versa.
When pursuing new leads, Crone follows up his calls with an email requesting his contact take the time to look at his LinkedIn profile. He includes his LinkedIn profile badge as part of his email signature—you can obtain the HTML code through your own LinkedIn profile.
“That gives them the opportunity to then go out and research me before they call me back, and I think that makes a lot of agents more comfortable,” he says, adding that they can see how long he’s been in business and the companies he’s worked with. “It has a tendency to soft sell me before they call me back.”
Another benefit Crone sees to LinkedIn is that it helps keep track of customers and prospects if they change jobs. If you do not have their current contact information, you can find them and reach out to them by LinkedIn email. He now makes it standard practice to try and connect with everyone who works with—not only to keep track of them, but also to build connections through those relationships.
How to get started
Crone acknowledges, “If you’re not a techno-person, then it sometimes becomes very difficult for you to do these things, and I think half the battle is just starting.”
Here’s how to get your feet wet:
1. Be a part of LinkedIn. Sign up! Add a photo and fill out your profile—the more information you provide, the easier it will be for the right people to find you.
2. Make connections. Begin to establish your community. Find people that you are already working with on LinkedIn—start looking for anyone you can think or go through a current contact list.
Crone explains, “You will soon notice people start looking at your profile because they see you have a mutual connection and because [that mutual connection] knows you, trusts you and has committed to being a part of your community, then they give you a little bit more credit than they would for a cold call.”
3. Post articles and other interesting content. There are two different ways to do this: You can express a thought and include hyperlinks to related material, or you can publish original material through LinkedIn Pulse. Pulse is part blog, part social network and blasts content to a targeted audience; your visibility increases based on your engagement.
“Quite honestly, it’s not my best forte, but I’ve started [publishing] and it’s very interesting to me how many people read those things, how many people actually take what you’ve written and forward it or use it as a reference piece for their brokers or in many cases their clients,” Crone says. “So it helps them do their job better and keeps you out in front.”
Once you’ve established yourself on LinkedIn, made connections and started sharing content, gather endorsements and recommendations from people in your network.
That way, when your new prospects check you out after you’ve contacted them by phone or email, they can see what you’re all about and what your mutual connections have to say about you.
“For us as a broker or a brokers rep, you get something from your peers that indicates, ‘Hey, this guy is a good guy. I’ve worked with him a long time; if you have any needs, call him.’” Crone says. “The more endorsements that you have, that’s certainly a plus.”
Joining groups specific to your interest is also helpful. Groups can not only be a great way to increase your visibility, they can also be a helpful way to tap into what certain segments of the market are talking about and where the conversation is trending.
It’s not Facebook
While some might be reluctant to try LinkedIn or write it off as a waste of time, Crone sees it as no different than marketing in the traditional way—sending out fliers or calling people on the phone.
As a self-taught user who signed up out of curiosity and then started seeing results, Crone encourages people to take the time and figure it out.
“You don’t have to be the most interesting person in the world; you don’t have to post anything; you don’t have to have an opinion,” he advises. “But if you want people to figure out where you are and who you are and what you do, it’s a great place and it’s a business setting, it’s not Facebook.
Try it, I guess is the big thing. It doesn’t cost you anything, just a little time.”
2 LinkedIn. “Sales Solutions: Why Does Social Selling Matter? The Results.” https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions?trk=lss_global_nav_link2micro&src=li-nav.