There are a number of things we could focus on when using LinkedIn for sales like using advanced search functions, but today I want to focus on using LinkedIn to deepen your network and establish important connections that will pay-off for your sales team today and down the line. Never before have trust, transperancy, and authenticity been more important between the seller and the buyer. People will buy from those they trust, and trust those who are in the same communities or share similar beliefs. LinkedIn provides unrivalled access to decision makers and other relevant professionals who are open to conversing with you and letting you in to their communities. Take the opportunity and become a trusted advisor instead of a vendor in the eyes of your prospects. Let's look at 3 LinkedIn activities that are vital to building your reputation as a trusted advisor.
Let’s start with making introductions on LinkedIn. Always send personalized invitation requests and never use the automated invite text. Use the invite as an opportunity to set yourself apart from every other sales person out there. The best way to do this is to immediately make reference to common ground. Perhaps you’re in the same LinkedIn Group, perhaps they tweeted or shared a good article, or maybe even something about their company. If you do know them make reference to how you know them and why adding you as a connection will be of value to them. I’ve learned through experience that flattery never hurts here – pay some homage to whoever it is your connecting with. Here a several examples of the best introductions people have received on LinkedIn.
Using LinkedIn Groups
Sales professionals like yourself should become a member of LinkedIn Groups associated with your primary area. At the bare minimum, there are five types of groups you need to belong to include:
1) Industry Groups – for example Social Media Club in your territory,
2) Vertical Groups – get involved in groups of verticals you are targeting,
3) Local Groups in your territory,
4) Professional Groups that help you hone your craft, and
5) Horizontal Groups – have the same target audience but in a different industry.
Best practice here is to avoid selling and give nonbiased advice or helpful related content to the group members. Joining these groups does several things: gives you context for connecting when the time comes, provides access to the group members, and helps you establish credibility as a trusted advisor on areas important to your prospect base, and keep up with discussions and trends that matter to your prospects.
Using LinkedIn Answers
The last area I will touch on is utilizing LinkedIn Answers. It is here that members go to in order to ask questions. This is a great area for you to be proactive about building your personal brand on LinkedIn. Answer questions thoughtfully and without bias. Doing this will help position you as trusted advisor who gives an authentic response AND will allow other people searching for the same answer to see your response and give you more exposure. This doesn’t mean to answer every related question, but rather choose 1-2 a week to start and answer them thoughtfully. Eventually you will find these answers will turn in to good conversations, which will
then, in turn lead to opportunities.