LinkedIn can be a great way to make professional contacts and secure new clients – if you use it in the right way. Ewa Jasinska-Davidson offers some tips.
In our modern world, with a growing pool of competitors and innovative solutions, staying relevant and constantly fine-tuning your business offering is the only way to keep thriving. Social media, while disregarded by many, is a very big part of staying relevant, no matter what your audience demographic. One great source of client acquisition is LinkedIn. With over 500 million members in 200 countries, I’d say it is a good place to start.
Using LinkedIn is, in fact, very similar to networking without social media. Attending a networking event is not enough to guarantee you new clients; you have to put yourself out there, talk to new people and share your business offering. Similarly, creating a profile on LinkedIn won’t automatically get you any new business; you will need to give your target audience a reason to find you. I would like to share with you my top tips for creating a professional profile, and help you understand how LinkedIn can help you find new clients, build professional business relationships and promote your expertise and services.
I recently met a business owner who spent 30 minutes every morning on LinkedIn instead of networking in person. I personally don’t think LinkedIn can replace face-to-face interaction, but if we want to network internationally – and most of us do – then LinkedIn is a good starting point, and it doesn’t cost a thing. As with language learning, your engagement with LinkedIn requires consistency. Fifteen minutes every day is far better than two hours once a week. I would suggest that you decide how much time daily you are able to spend on LinkedIn and then stick to it. Apply a belt-andbraces approach. Become more active on LinkedIn, but don’t give up the face-to-face networking.
Before you get into a regular habit of using LinkedIn, it is useful to ask yourself some questions. What is your main objective? Do you want to gain online presence, position yourself as an expert in the industry or simply connect with potential leads? You should also think about who you wish to establish contact with.
Top tips for connecting on LinkedIn
When contacting potential leads, always send a personalised invite. Even if you are working on a mobile app, there is an option to personalise your invite. Tell them why you want to connect in a subtle way (no selling). Are there any similarities between your profiles? Perhaps you belong to the same LinkedIn groups? Or maybe something from their profile/experience has caught your attention? When they accept, always send a thank you, and follow up.
Invite them to read your blog, direct them to your website, or share a document that gives information about your work – anything that highlights why you are of value to them. Try to reply within 24 hours to messages or invitations. Show interest as you would do in someone if you met them in real life. If someone has viewed your profile, you can write to them asking what prompted them to check it. When you see that the conversation is
going in the right direction, suggest a phone call/Skype meeting to find out more about their needs and how you could add value to their business. LinkedIn is a good way to meet, engage and warm up a lead, but then you must take it to the next level offline. If you have found a really important lead, ask a first-degree LinkedIn contact to introduce you to them. It is more powerful when a common connection makes an introduction.
Which sectors do those people operate in (pharmaceuticals, veterinary medicine)? Which
companies do they work for (translation agencies, international companies, web design companies)? What are their positions and job titles, and where are they located? And last but not least, who could be the most appropriate person from your first-degree contacts to introduce you to them? I would suggest writing your answers down, as they will be essential when you come to do an advanced search for potential leads.
Have a look at your colleagues’ profiles. What do you like about them? Are they publishing blogs? Are they doing something you do, or could do better? Always include a professional ‘head and shoulders’ photo – visitors will be more likely to view your profile or send you a message when you display a photograph.
Create a keyword-rich professional headline (120 words) – original and eye-catching, focusing on how you can help others. Your ‘summary’ is not your CV: it is an opportunity to get across your key marketing message. Make it clear and easy to read, with bullet points and headings. Include a reason to contact you, and your contact details. Add a testimonial in PDF or video format. Make sure you include your location and sector, so that you can be easily found by others, as well as contact details, including your website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Endorsements are important for keyword search optimisation. You can arrange them in your preferred order to showcase your key skills. Expert recommendations are a great way to build trust, and having at least five testimonials can really boost your profile. If your clients are not on LinkedIn, you can always include their testimonials in PDF format and upload them in the media section. Nowadays, many people prefer watching over reading, so it would be beneficial to have a short video explaining what you do, or at least to include some images from assignments you have been on (if there are no confidentiality issues). Make it clear what you do and how you achieve results. Both qualifications and career experience
Author: Ewa Jasinska-Davidson, Article published in the ITI Bulletin.