You don’t have to be in sales to understand that LinkedIn is a goldmine for salespeople! Whereas before you’d need to painstakingly map out org charts and get insider information to understand who was employed where, and what people in an organization you need to speak to to make a deal, you can easily find this information in one place now.
It’s no wonder that one the of leading CRM systems (Salesforce.com) “Wants To Be The New LinkedIn”
It’s also no wonder that LinkedIn groups like “Sales Management Executives” have over 100,000 members in them.
Alright, I don’t have to convince you that all salespeople (should) take advantage of LinkedIn. But do we all do it the right way? I’m going to assume that our blog readers are above spamming their networks with useless information not pertaining to them, and I won’t use this time to go through every single way a sales rep can use LinkedIn, or list all the mistakes that people make. I will however give you a few tips and tricks I’ve learned that can save you time, and get results.
Commenting in Groups
Most of you probably already know that LinkedIn Groups are a great way to take part in discussions relevant to your industry and spread the word about any knowledge or ideas you may want to share. But unless a group is very relevant to the type of information you’re looking to share, it will be a waste of your time and everyone elses to try to drum up interest there. If you’re always jumping into the comments section to promote your brand or product, you will quickly gain a reputation as a non-contributing member of the group, and will likely be kicked out by the administrator. Sharing personal experiences and stories to answer people’s questions is a great way to contribute.
It is sometimes appropriate to share your own content such a blog post hosted on your site as long as it’s not blatantly selling a product without adding any other value to the discussion. To determine whether a group welcomes the sharing of blog posts or articles, click on the “i” next to the “Member” button, and read the “Group Rules” if they have them. Many group owners will specifically say whether posting your own content or any articles at all is allowed in the group. Some groups do this to promote discussions rather than having a wall of links to scroll through. If there are no group rules, then you’re free to post any relevant content that you want.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, Paul Shapiro just posted a great article about LinkedIn Posts and effective titles here.
Sending Direct Messages
Surprisingly, many people that I talk to are not aware that once you become a member of a LinkedIn group, you can send direct messages to any other member in that group.
Needless to say, this is a great way to reach a person whose contact information you don’t have. But don’t go running off spamming people just yet. First of all, LinkedIn has a limit on the amount of messages you can send, and amount of people you can see in the group. (25 pages of 20 people per page). LinkedIn also has a button in the inbox that allows anyone to mark a message as spam. So if you decide to send a bunch of messages by clicking into every member of a group indiscriminately, you will likely be kicked out of the group, and possibly blocked from sending any messages at all on LinkedIn.
The best use of your time is to think of smart ways to filter through people in the “members” section of a group by using the search field to find people who have keywords in their profiles that would make them very likely be interested in whatever information you’re looking to share. Once you find those people, you should clearly state in the message who you are, why you’re reaching out to them specifically, and what you need from them.
People will appreciate that you took the time to look through their profile and understand their needs and interests before cold messaging them, and will be much more likely to respond.
Following Up on LinkedIn
Since this is a blog for sales professionals, I have throw this last part in. If you haven’t heard back from someone after sending them a direct message, it doesn’t mean they’re not interested in hearing from you! Just like in email, you can go into the sent folder and click on the “reply” button to send them another message reminding them about your note. I’ve had countless people tell me they appreciate the follow up and either missed the note before or just didn’t have time to respond. Just don’t abuse your LinkedIn community’s trust and you’ll retain your reputation as a contributing member of the network.