This post is for sales professionals, but, as I organized my thoughts, it became apparent to me that these three mistakes are costly for anyone who doesn't tap into the power of LinkedIn for business development, professional networking and career development.
The following are the three costliest mistakes I regularly see on LinkedIn.
1. Resume Focused
If you only think of LinkedIn as your online resume, you obviously haven't been exposed to the full power of the platform.
Even if you're not in sales, you need look at your LinkedIn profile as a sales asset.
Begin with an attention grabbing headline, followed by a well written summary, complemented by examples of your work through articles, Slideshares and other media that represent your body of work. Your body of work on LinkedIn performs best when it paints a clear picture of how you accomplish business results for your audience - your customers, partners, employees, boss, etc.
2. Sporadic Use
When I see someone log into LinkedIn sporadically, an alarm bell goes off in my head. Security restrictions notwithstanding, I recommend always being logged into LinkedIn, the same as you're always logged into your email client.
Using LinkedIn on a daily basis is the best way to understand its full potential. Daily engagement with your connections and daily review of companies you follow keeps you informed and provides opportunities to network.
Simply scroll through your stream and like, comment and share relevant content. Speaking of your network, growing your network one connection at a time is much easier when you use LinkedIn each day. Using the LinkedIn mobile app also makes it easy to stay engaged while you're on the go - I review my LinkedIn stream standing in line at a coffee shop, at the airport and even on the treadmill at the gym.
It just takes 3 to 5 minutes to scan your stream, select an engagement moment and add to your LinkedIn prowess - not to mention read an article that makes you a little smarter.
3. Missing Out on LinkedIn's Research Power
Most people in sales and business development think of LinkedIn as a professional network. And, it is, but, LinkedIn's also a rich repository of information.
Use the search bar to discover new people, companies, groups and even jobs.
Click on someone's profile, and allow LinkedIn to suggest other people who are like that person (professionally speaking) through People also Viewed.
Likewise, when you're looking for new customers, visit the company page of your current customers and allow LinkedIn to show you other companies that People also Viewed who might represent sales opportunities for you. Use the platform's advanced search tools to create a list and have LinkedIn send you updates to it so that you can "mine" this list.
For example, if you sell to healthcare companies in Florida, create your list, save it and focus in on the best opportunities, then narrow your list further and further until it's manageable. Then, go forth and engage with people on this list. In due time, you'll identify new sales opportunities, and when you close the business you can tell your boss, friends, peers or spouse that you're a social selling expert because you know how to tap into the full potential of LinkedIn.
Bonus: Fourth Costly Mistake on LinkedIn
While I'm a fan of providing a short list of three of anything that you should consider in your behavior change, I'll add a fourth costly mistake for you to ponder.
Proposing marriage on a first date is a common analogy to describe this mistake. Too many sales people think LinkedIn is a platform with permission to pitch. If you're in B2B sales, you understand that it takes both time and effort to build relationships. If you understand this principle, it's your responsibility to apply it online when you engage with people by using the Jill Rowley principle: "Give to give, not to get."
The B2B buyer has changed - many are Millennials and the last thing you can do is sell to them without a relationship. You need to serve them. Build trust. Build relationships.
If your boss doesn't want to hear that, tell your boss to tune into the 21st century before he or she gets fired by their Millennial boss.