By Patty Cisco, MBA, CEO, Marketing Essentials

In today’s business world, relationships matter more than ever. People tune out irrelevant and promotional messages, but they will engage with people and companies who are providing helpful and relevant information. These are the people they are building relationships with and they are leveraging LinkedIn. Did you know that LinkedIn*:

  • Operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.
  • Has 660+ million members in over 200 countries and territories.
  • Has more than 30 million companies represented.
  • Has more than 20 million open jobs listed.

How to Use LinkedIn Most Effectively
LinkedIn is an extensive social platform that has several capabilities and tools that can be used for establishing personal and company pages, advertising, sponsored content, messaging and more. Here are two non-negotiable tips you must put in place if you want to gain more from LinkedIn.

Non-Negotiable Tip #1: Optimize Your Profile
One of the first steps most LinkedIn members take when seeing an article, advertisement or new connection is to click through to the profile to learn more about the sender. This is why it’s critical for you and your sales team to complete and optimize their profiles. Optimized profiles also boost the visibility of your company in search results — both on and off the network. If you want a chance to show up when prospects are searching LinkedIn for resources, vendors, industry groups, etc., your profiles must be optimized. Also, search engines like Google scour pages and URLs for keywords, and LinkedIn profiles offer many opportunities to embed keywords. Here’s how to optimize your LinkedIn Profile:

  • Include a cover photo that makes a good first impression.
  • Choose a high-quality profile picture.
  • Write a compelling headline.
  • Customize your URL.
  • Fill out your summary – tell your story!
  • Introduce yourself and your work with a video.
  • Keep your Experience section updated.
  • Get endorsements and recommendations.
  • Post regularly to help naturally incorporate keywords.

Non-Negotiable Tip #2: Prospect, Prospect, Prospect
LinkedIn is the largest professional network. That means your prospects are on LinkedIn. And your competitors are too. Here are a few tips to help you make the connection first.

  • Take time to expand your network. Create a list of your current contacts – sales leads, current customers, peers and college associates, friends in the business, coworkers, vendors, etc. Connections spawn more connections. Send messages with your connection request. Each new connection builds your network and opens the door to even more connections.
  • Target and research key prospects. LinkedIn users typically put a generous amount of information on their profiles. With a little research, you can quickly determine who you need to be talking to and connecting with for targeted accounts.
  • Join Groups. Groups on LinkedIn are people with similar likes, needs, skills, etc., who share information and have conversations via their LinkedIn Group. These are a great way to hear what’s going on inside the industry and to begin building new relationships.
  • Publish articles on LinkedIn to establish yourself as a credible resource/thought leader. Author your own articles and/or share and comment on articles others have written. Content is a powerful tool for establishing trust. It also helps you reach new audiences.
  • Evaluate using the paid tool, LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It can provide lead recommendations, extend your network, integrate with your CRM and more. It does come at a cost so you would want to make sure your sales team is using it efficiently to capture ROI.

Whether you are just getting started or have already used LinkedIn, it’s a powerful sales tool that will continue to grow. Many companies today hire LinkedIn consultants or invest in coaching to help their teams most effectively use the platform as a sales tool. They can see that getting their foot in the door actually starts online.

*Source: The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn: 5 Year Anniversary Edition: LinkedIn Newsroom

Patty Cisco, MBA is CEO of Marketing Essentials, a full-service digital marketing and sales agency based out of New Bremen, Ohio, that has worked with industrial and manufacturing companies across the nation. Find more online at mktgessentials.com or connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/inboundstrategistpattycisco/.