Using LinkedIn for Business
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  redbooks ben_martin linkedin social_media
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Preparing Youself for Social Media Week...
The question I ask many sellers is, do you research your client before making contact? Most of the time they do: "I like to understand where they have worked before, what groups they are interested in, and sometimes it gives me an insight into their interests outside of work. Which is great to sometimes break the ice with."
Then I ask, do you think your clients do the same to you? If you think they don't, you are very much mistaken.
When was the last time you looked at your profile? Is it looking tired and frayed at the edges? Is you headline title one of IBM acronyms that needs a cypher to decode?
Could a potential client understand how you can add value to his or her company?
So first, before you start building your valued network, and requesting your clients to connect with you, let's consider your personal brand, LinkedIn is your chance to demonstrate the value you can offer.
Let's start with your photo. Do you use the same image across all your networks? Keep it professional and consistent; it's always beneficial to know that the same person I was speaking to on one site is the same person I am speaking to on another. A huge eighty percent of professionals have indicated they would not generally connect to someone with no photo. We like to know whom we are talking to.
Next, is your headline tag. By default, LinkedIn populates this with your job tile. Take mine several years ago "ICR LSE at IBM" – I can't imagine why clients had no idea what I did. So take advantage of the 160 characters available and answer the question "What do you do?"
As a result of doing these tasks, you can now address what I believe, are four important things. As a result of a search on LinkedIn, a potential client is presented with only four answers: your name, your headline tag, and how many connections and how many recommendations you have.
Are you going to stand shoulders above the rest? Would you click on you?
So now they have clicked on your name and are now staring at your profile. Have you written a summary using all 2000 characters available? It is not important to do so, but why waste? Aim to make your profile an interesting read - long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to still be interesting. Never start it with "In my role as" or “I'm here to make money." Why are you here on LinkedIn? Take a moment to summarize from your work experience – what value have you brought to other clients? What results did you get? How can you provide value to your next client?
The summary is also subject to search engine optimization (SEO) and is used by the likes of Google and others. So, consider using key words that reflect the industry and skill set you have. Same goes for specialties.
You're almost there. Under your work experiences, make sure that you have highlighted your one to three accomplishments within each role. Clients like to see progression; it provides them with credibility and helps reduce the trust gap.
Now you're ready to start approaching new prospects, and they will be willing to connect with you because now they can clearly see the value you could potentially bring to them.
Next question: If, every Friday, I supplied you details about your customer, such as who has been promoted, and who are new joiners and even leavers, would you find that of value? Of course you would.
Follow the companies you are aligned to or are of interest to you. LinkedIn will then send you this information. What better way to introduce yourself by saying congratulations on your new job, promotion, and such.
The people who have left, in my opinion, are the most valuable. Ask them for help – as a species we are geared to do so. For example, "I'm trying to get through to xxx, can you help me?"
If you don't have companies, you can take advantage of the superb search function for lines of business. You can use Boolean search strings within LinkedIn. For example "Chief Information Officer" OR cio will search for the exact phrase in quotation marks (" ") and also the word CIO. You can search in a geographic area using a postal code and you can save this search. Guess what? Every time a new CIO appears in this area you will receive a notification.
There are plenty of apps you can add to enhance your profile; there are many to choose from and each will have differing value to individuals - explore!
Last but not least, keep your network updated with what you and your company are doing. Don't send too many marketing type messages; try to keep them of value and informative. It will bring great results.
Ben Martin works as part of the transformation team for IBM UKI. His role as Social Business Enablement Leader utilizes his many years of experience in using social media technologies to engage with both internal employees and external clients, helping facilitate faster responses through collaboration and sharing of information. His thought leadership on the use of social technologies has led to many presentations and webcasts, globally both from within the corporation and out. You can follow him on Twitter @Social_Ben
Ben is an IBM Redbooks Thought Leader