We’ve all become more reliant on digital channels for growing our network and building potential sales relationships. One platform that’s become an integral part of the sales arsenal is LinkedIn.

Unsurprisingly, use of the platform has increased significantly over the course of the pandemic. According to figures published in April 2021, conversations increased by 43%, while content shared was up 29%, compared to the previous 12 months.

Which is probably why Emma Wilson, head of communications and content marketing at our partner Hundred Brands, describes LinkedIn as “a 24/7 global networking event that is happening 365 days of the year.”

And everyone’s invited.

Which means, with the right approach, you can introduce yourself, build a relationship with and ultimately sell to anyone in your industry.

However, as you’ve probably realised, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and stand out from others in your sector. In this blog, we discuss how to make an impact on LinkedIn, whether you want to raise your profile as a sales leader or land previously unreachable accounts.


Be social, be consistent

A common complaint we often hear from clients is that they give LinkedIn a try for a few weeks, don’t see any results and then give up.

However, like any sales relationship it takes time to build trust with your audience. One of the best ways you can build trust is to engage on others’ post. After all it’s social media, not broadcast media. The more “social” you are, and the more conversations you engage in, the more your audience will reciprocate.

When it comes to posting, focus on content that is likely to spark debate and discussion. A great way to do this is to ask questions, to really find out what the main issues are affecting your target audience.

And you have to be consistent. The more regularly you post and comment, the more your connections will start to look out for you. LinkedIn’s algorithm also rewards those that comment regularly – whether that’s keeping the discussion going on your own posts or interacting with others’. In short, the more you engage with your community, the wider your reach is likely to be on future posts.

It perhaps goes without saying that the more high-quality content you post that is relevant to your audience, the more engagement you will generate.

So, focus more on the quality of content than how often you post. And most importantly, never dive straight into the inbox with a pitch.

Emma says: “It’s about building relationships and interacting with prospects by answering questions and providing useful content until the prospect is ready to buy.”


Be more strategic

There’s no denying the fact that social media can be a major time suck. So to avoid being drawn into the LinkedIn rabbit hole you need to take a strategic, targeted approach. A good start is creating lists based on individuals, job titles, organisations or sectors you want to introduce yourself to. This is made a lot easier by using LinkedIn’s premium Sales Navigator tool. You can then begin commenting on these user’s posts and slowly building a relationship.

By “social listening” (essentially keeping an eye on what people are posting) you can get an idea of the topics that enthuse them, whether that’s on a personal or business basis.

This provides a great hook to spark up a conversation either online or when you happen to “bump into them” at a future networking event (OK, you saw on a recent post that they’d be there and quickly booked a ticket as it was the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself).

In short, when you have a list of people you want to engage with, spending 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn is going to generate better results than more of a scattergun approach.

As well as knowing the industry topics your audience are likely to react to, using the right hashtags (LinkedIn keywords, which serve as topic categories) also helps you get your content in front of your target audience.


Focus on the right metrics

It’s easy to get hung up on how many likes and comments your content is generating. Yes, this is a good indication of how many people are seeing and reading your content. But essentially these are vanity metrics. It’s more important to focus on the end results.

So if you’re using LinkedIn to raise your profile – set quarterly targets of how many webinar or podcasts you get booked on. If it’s about lead generation how many conversations are you booking in as a result of LinkedIn activity?

It’s also important to remember that LinkedIn activity produces a compound effect. You’ll certainly get better results in the fourth quarter of activity than the first (if you’re consistently spending 15 minutes a day on the platform, that is).

However, one of the most important metrics is the Social Selling Index. This is a free tool which, in the words of LinkedIn, “measures how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships.”

Why is the SSI so important? It helps you benchmark your performance against others in your network and industry. Once you achieve an SSI score of 75 or above LinkedIn’s algorithm with show your content to more of the people in your network. Achieving a score of 80 or above demonstrates that you are an industry thought leader and have significant influence.


Use the right tools

Regularly coming up with new content ideas is an issue that many LinkedIn users struggle with. However, there are tools to make your life easier. For example, Emma recommends curation tool Feedly. This helps you discover content from key industry websites, twitter accounts and other sources from the web, to spark lively conversations with your LinkedIn connections.

When it comes to posting, it’s not recommended to use third party tools to schedule in advance. According to Emma, automated scheduling tools can reduce the reach of your posts by up to 15%.

This is because LinkedIn wants to foster “meaningful engagement” between connections and reduce the number of people who post content but make no effort to continue the discussion (commonly known as “post and ghost”) once your audience comment on it.


In summary

LinkedIn is a highly effective way of staying front of mind when you can’t physically get in front of prospective clients. While we hope to see a return to “normal” networking events there’s no denying that by taking a strategic approach to LinkedIn will help you strengthen your network, build relationships and ultimately gain more sales.

To discover more of Emma’s valuable insight into social selling, which we couldn’t fit into this blog, watch a replay of the webinar here.


To talk to us more about Social Selling, please get in touch by emailing info@sbrconsulting.com or call us on +44 (0) 207 653 3740.

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