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Virtual Velocity Broadcast Recap: Tips and Tricks for Leveraging LinkedIn for Business

October 21, 2011
at 11:18 am PST

Fun LinkedIn Facts:

  • LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 120 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
  • Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate that is faster than two new members per second.
  • LinkedIn counts executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies as members; its corporate hiring solutions are used by 75 of the Fortune 100 companies.

With statistics as impressive as those, can your company afford not to be utilizing LinkedIn in its marketing strategy?

I’ll admit, LinkedIn is not a service that I check several times a day like I do other social media sites. But after sitting in on our latest Virtual Partner Velocity broadcast, which fellow Channels blogger Alex Krasne hosted and moderated, I think I’ll be changing my social media tune.

During this informative broadcast, guest speaker Heather Margolis, Channel Maven Consulting President and Founder and Everything Channel contributor shared tips on how to use LinkedIn to brand yourself online, increase your network, engage with prospects, drive marketing tactics, and build your thought leadership platform.

She gave key pointers on simple things you can do today to spruce up your LinkedIn profile and how to correctly use the features the powerful platform has to offer. Then, Heather answered questions that our audience tweeted in during the broadcast.

Couldn’t tune in to the broadcast? The video replay is available now.
The replay is available on the Partner Velocity site. Look for Heather Margolis in the list of events and click “View replay” to access the On Demand broadcast.After you watch the replay, complete the event survey on the Partner Velocity site to be entered into a sweepstakes to win a social media assessment and consulting from Channel Maven Consulting (US $1800 value).

After Heather presented, we took questions the audience submitted. Keep reading to check out the useful advice Heather had.

First, Alex started off with a couple questions of her own.

Alex: Where do you draw the line between business and personal?
Heather: For prospects who you don’t have an established relationship with yet, if you’re about to post something that you wouldn’t want them to hear, don’t post it. Save it for Facebook instead.

Alex: Our partners are busy and already use various social media tools. Is it better to do a couple of things well rather than a bunch of things?
Heather: If you only have time to do one thing, it’s LinkedIn. In addition, make sure you are optimizing your company name. To do this, Google your company name and see what comes up. Then because SEO is based on location, have someone across the country Google your name to see what comes up. (Check out Social Media Spotlight: The Importance of SEO to learn more.)

Then, Heather tackled questions from the audience.

If I only wanted to spend an hour a week on social media, what should I do first?
You need to start off with about two hours of work before hand to get ready. For the first hour, use SEO to make sure you are found when someone searches for your company name. Then, spend the second hour updating your LinkedIn profile and joining some groups. After that, spend one hour per week picking one piece of content to update in all of your LinkedIn groups.

How do I come off as authentic on LinkedIn rather than a salesperson?
Type what you are about to say, then read it to someone who has nothing to do with your business. Then ask them if they would click on the link to read it? You can even read it aloud and ask yourself if you would engage with someone who made that statement.

What’s the one item in a profile that is essential to making sure your company page is looked at?
It’s really important that the website name in your profile is edited to say your company’s name vs. My Company Website. Also, make sure you are making updates within LinkedIn at least once a month. You can do this by connecting with people in your email address book or even your current customers.

In addition to our company page, should we start our own company group?
Be where your customers want, when they want you. Your customers are already in a bunch of groups so don’t start your own group until you have a big enough audience.

Do you use the web or a mobile app to update LinkedIn regularly?
Both. If I just posted an article and I want to make sure it gets out to the correct groups, then I use the computer because I probably just finished writing the article and I’m already in front of my computer. If I see an interesting article that I’m reading on my phone, then I will use a mobile app to share the article.

How long does it take on average to build out a good presence on LinkedIn?
If they are aggressive and active in LinkedIn, then it can take about three months. Post good content and people will want to connect with you.

For personal profiles, I don’t have a professional headshot. Is it better to have no picture?
No, people want to see who they are about to do business with. If you don’t have a professional headshot, stand in front of a wall and have someone take a picture of you. Show your personality but stay away from sunglasses, hats, and pictures taken of you from really far away.

This seems time-consuming, how much time should I spend on discussions, events, etc?
Remember, there is a ramp up period where you are spending about two hours getting your profile updated and learning about the different things you can do. After you get the hang of using LinkedIn, you actually spend less than an hour per week. Set a reminder in your calendar to spend an hour a week posting to LinkedIn. For events, you already have all of the content you need to post to LinkedIn and it only takes five minutes to add the event.

How does LinkedIn work for lead generation versus Twitter?
Twitter is a great tool for listening to different topics but can be noisy. Linked in is an easier tool to segment who you talk to and what you’re talking about.

What kind of success stories have you heard from Service Providers using LinkedIn? Have they connected to prospects and used it to drive sales?
Yes, one solution provider posted a couple of really interesting stories over the course of two to three months. Next, they posted a funny video that they created and it received a ton of comments and shares. Then, they hosted an event and some of the same people who commented on the video went to the event and they’re working on an opportunity together now. You want to be consistent and you also should join different types of groups such as your local Chamber of Commerce.

Should I accept every request, even if I don’t know them very well?
On Facebook, I only connect with people I’ve actually met. Twitter, I’ll follow anyone and everyone. On LinkedIn, you want to make sure that the person is either in your industry or connected to someone in your industry. If someone from an industry that has nothing to do with your industry tries to connect with you, I would not accept.

Someone in my network asked me to introduce them to someone else in my network. Should I?
If you have worked or interacted with the person enough that you feel comfortable making the introduction, then go for it. If that isn’t the case, it’s perfectly acceptable to say that you don’t feel comfortable bothering the other person since you are not closely connected.

I don’t have 500 connections yet. Is 500+ connections the magic number?
It certainly looks good because it shows how many people are willing to connect with them. But as long as you have over 200, you at least give the appearance of having a professional network. The more connections you have, the better, broader, and healthier your network is.

What about after the sale? Do you keep engaged with customers on LinkedIn?
I do. Sometimes I’ll give the person a recommendation. Another great lead generation thing to do is download the list of emails of everyone you’ve connected with and include them when you send out events or email campaigns. Don’t forget to clean up the list and send only to people who have interest in your industry.

When requesting a connection, is it okay to just go with the standard message or should I create a new one every time?
If someone connects with me using the generic message and I don’t see the value in the connection, I don’t connect. But if they personalized the message a little, even if I don’t know them very well, I’m more likely to connect.

What if LinkedIn recommendations include negative comments?
You are able to approve every recommendation before it gets posted. If they write a bad recommendation, you probably should not have asked them to recommend you in the first place.

What kind of business updates should I post on LinkedIn?
Anything that has to do with your industry, especially articles that answer questions that you get asked.

Do you believe in company governance policies for LinkedIn usage?
LinkedIn is a great place for people to find a job but that’s not why people are using it anymore. It’s more about posting valuable content.

Do you give recommendations back to everyone that recommends you?
I don’t but if somebody recommends me, I accept it and send them a thank you. If they ask for a recommendation back, I simply say, “I’m sorry, we haven’t worked together very closely. Maybe in the future when we work together again, I’ll be able to give you a better recommendation.”

Some groups seem rather stagnant, how do I get the discussion going?
Before you join a group, make sure it’s a fairly active group. But if you’ve joined a great group and they talk about the topics you want to talk about, take the initiative to drive the conversation. Be sure to reply to discussion to keep the conversation going. If the conversation doesn’t pick up after a couple of weeks, un-join the group and find a better group to join.

I’m excited to get more active on LinkedIn but I’m feeling overwhelmed.
When you have downtime, log into LinkedIn and just start connecting with a bunch of people. You can even see who your colleagues are connected to and go connect with their connections. Once you feel comfortable in LinkedIn, you can start to post new discussions.

Well, we sure learned a lot during the hour and hope you did, too! What tips will you be leveraging for your LinkedIn profile? Share with us in the comments.

And don’t miss our next broadcast on November 15 with Nilofer Merchant on “Igniting Performance” and how to get true collaboration at your company. Register today on the Partner Velocity site.

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