Thanks to Robert Algeri and Promod Sharma for inspiring this post. I recently put together a blog about common things successful LinkedIn users do. Robert and Promod said they’d be interested to find out more about other people’s LinkedIn plans and how they put them into action…so here is what I’ve discovered.
What do I mean when I say that successful LinkedIn users have clear plans?
1. They have explicitly stated objectives
2. They have identified clear actions in order to achieve their objectives
3. Their social media efforts are MUST do’s – rather than nice to do’s
4. They measure their results and tweak things accordingly
What objectives do those in the professional services space have (other than recruitment)?
These vary from person to person but some examples successful LinkedIn users have shared with me include:
“To engage with a defined target segment and to lead a discussion on things I want to talk about. The added advantage of this is that any inbound enquiries are based on these value-added topics” (i.e. the person gets pre-qualified prospects into his sales funnel).
“I use social media to polarize people. I want them to be drawn towards me or repelled. This helps create my niche. The deeper purpose is to build trust. The elements are expertise and intent. We have competitors who our prospects see as reasonable substitutes for us. The real differentiator is intent, which must be proven continually. Social media is the ideal tool. You can’t fake intent for long. Most competitors quit.”
“To position myself as a specialist in my field amongst my target audience and to, ultimately, build new relationships with key influencers and prospects so that, should a project arise in my area, they consider me”.
Other objectives people have shared include:
- growing their brand awareness
- growing their marketing reach
- positioning themselves for a specific opportunity
- growing their number of leads
- promoting an event
- keeping up-to-date with their industry/competitors/clients
- getting new work.
What sorts of clear actions have people identified to ensure they achieve their objectives?
Typically those I spoke to consider:
- how to use status updates – both in terms of content and frequency. For example, I typically use this to share relevant content that both I, and others, have created. Other people pose sales questions, or talk about what they’re working on. The similarities I’ve noticed in status updates that capture my attention is that they are all designed to make people think.
- how to engage with others via LinkedIn groups – this includes selecting the right groups and being clear about which topics you wish to engage on (it’s very easy to get carried away and waste a lot of time without clear parameters). The best posts I’ve seen are those that share valuable content, pose interesting questions or provide an interesting perspective on an issue. Successful LinkedIn users tend to keep involved in the discussion thread as it grows.
- LinkedIn questions and answers – again, it comes down to being clear about which questions you want to pose or answer. I do notice that some people seem to answer a LOT of these questions and I marvel at the time they have to invest in LinkedIn!
- direct messages – this is something a number of people do really well. Once they’ve been involved in a group discussion for example, they may direct message someone else who was involved and ask for more information, or seek a meeting. If done well, this can be really powerful.
- identifying and connecting with prospects – this may be through a combination of the above as well as by using the Advanced Search function within LinkedIn.
- other LinkedIn functions some people use effectively to help them achieve their objectives are Signal (Search Updates), Polls, and creating an Event.
Social media as a MUST do rather than a nice to do
This really comes back to making LinkedIn an integral part of your day. It means that blog posts don’t fall by the wayside when you get busy and that you continue to be visible and engage in group discussions. Of course, we all go through phases of lesser activity but for a lot of the people I’ve spoken to, it’s about making time each day to spend on LinkedIn – generally between 15-30 minutes. Greg de Simone, for example, spends 10 minutes reading others content, 10 minutes engaging in group discussions and 10 minutes posting his own content. It’s about recognising that you need to have a consistent presence in order to build credibility and trust. This also demonstrates a person’s commitment and follow through.
Again, how people measure their results really comes down to their objectives and the strategies they adopt. Measures can be anything from number of views of your profile from your target audience, through to number of clicks on links you’ve shared, to web traffic, to direct enquiries or engagement, through to number of prospects who enter your sales funnel. The list is endless.
I strongly believe that, in order to avoid LinkedIn being a major time waster, you need to have clear objectives, a plan to achieve them, the necessary commitment to leveraging LinkedIn and be clear about how you will measure your efforts.
What other things would you include in a LinkedIn plan?
What else do you think helps people in the professional services space to effectively leverage LinkedIn?