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Marketing expert, Leigh Hopwood, offers tips on how to get the best out of LinkedIn

LinkedIn can be a key to unlocking new business opportunities.

With so many decision makers on the largest, most up to date B2B (business to business) contact database in the world, why wouldn’t you use this tool to find, engage and win new customers?

Here’s how you can do it.

Step 1: Build your own personal profile

Make it credible with a friendly yet professional photo, strong headline and a summary that explains what you can do for others.

Your public profile is an opportunity for you to share your personality and your experience so that people want to buy from you.

It’s not a CV and it shouldn’t read with a corporate tone – it should be friendly and natural. Don’t forget to check your security and privacy settings too.

LinkedIn really is networking on steroids!

Leigh Hopwood Leigh Hopwood Marketing Consultant at Redd Marketing and Chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing

Step 2: Create a business profile

Using messages from your website (for consistency) and your other sales collateral, create a simple business profile and link your own profile to it along with your colleagues.

There is no need to start sharing updates; as soon as you start doing this you’ll need to commit to it to avoid your updates looking out of date.

Step 3: Grow your network

Connect with as many of your contacts as possible, even if they don’t seem relevant.

A first connection will lead to getting seen by second and third connections, increasing your visibility on the platform.

Also join the groups where your buyer may reside: the more groups you join the wider your network with reach.

Step 4: Listen, like and share content

With a credible profile and an audience (your connections) you are ready to start listening to your market, liking content that is relevant to your audience and sharing content that might peak the interest of your target buyer.

That content could be from your connections, from news sites or Mitsubishi Electric, content created by your marketing department, or indeed your own status update with video/photo (which is always more engaging than just a few words).

Step 5: Find new people and message them

The search functionality on LinkedIn is good – better if you have a paid version – as it allows you to find potential buyers.

Once you have found them, think about what you might want to say to them. If you can’t message them (using InMail) then maybe ask for an introduction from one of your contacts or join the group they are in and message them through that.

There is currently a surge of people inviting others to connect because of mutual interests – this method will become less effective over the coming months, so think about why someone might say yes to connecting or engaging with you; what’s in it for them?

Here is the secret

– please do not do a sales pitch on LinkedIn.

It is a networking platform and an opportunity to engage with potential buyers with interesting content that might help them in their line of work.

If you send overt sales messages you will be blocked.

Consider how you feel when you receive an unwanted or unexpected sales message…

If that’s not enough, here are some more tips

  • Use the free version first

    Once you have started to use LinkedIn with earnest, then upgrade to a paid version using the one-month trial to make sure you get value.

  • Think

    Think about how you feel when you see or review content on LinkedIn; use this when considering what you might like or share on the platform.

  • Get connected

    When you meet new people whether online, in meetings or at a conference, invite them to connect on LinkedIn.

  • Time

    Be careful not to spend too long on LinkedIn. Popping onto the platform daily is OK, but it is easy to get drawn into spending hours searching for people, sending messages, liking and sharing content.

  • Move on

    Once you’re engaged with a potential customer, try to change the communication channel to email, phone or indeed a face-to-face meeting.

LinkedIn really is networking on steroids!

Nothing takes away the value of face to face networking but LinkedIn really does enhance it – both from finding many more new people and also by accelerating your face to face networking to create stronger relationships quicker.

There is a lot of advice and many training courses available to help you get more out of LinkedIn.

Why not start with the videos available via the LinkedIn help pages, and if you need more specific support get in touch with Mitsubishi Electric for further help.

Leigh Hopwood is Marketing Consultant at Redd Marketing and Chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing