I have heard this over and over from “old school” sales folks. I’ve been doing things my way for 20 years…why would I change now? Well sir (or madam), times are a-changing and it’s time you step into the 21st century.
Yes, sales is still about relationships. If you’re a high-performing sales person, you’re likely great at building and nurturing relationships. I’m really just asking you to consider the benefit (to you, your employer, your partners AND your clients) of leveraging the greatest business networking tool around to take it to the next level.
Trust me, many of your competitors (and even some of your co-workers) are already doing it. What exactly is “it”? Well…here’s a start:
- Add a Professional Photo – Pull down the photo of you and your daughter at the dance (or move that one to Facebook!). Go spend $15-$20 on a professional headshot, ask your significant other to give it a try, contact your marketing department or hire a local photographer. Just get it done!
- Optimize Your Account – While this may sound daunting, LinkedIn walks you through a step-by-step process to add your work history, education, skills, etc. Why is this important? Because LinkedIn gives preferential treatment to accounts deemed to be 100% optimized, which means you’ll pop up in more searches.
- Request 3 Recommendations – Why three? Well I attended a seminar a few years ago that was led by a recruiting savant who knew just about everything about LinkedIn. Not only did he inform me that 3 recommendations were the minimum number you should have on your profile, he also intimated that it was important to have a mix of people to whom you reported, peers and individuals who reported to you. Recommendations and the keywords in recommendations impact how/whether you come up in future searches (it’s all part of the secret LinkedIn algorithms that they’re constantly fine tuning).
- Join 5-10 Groups – LinkedIn allows you to join a maximum of 50 groups (I know…I’m maxed out). Are you members of any yet? Can’t remember? Hmm. Think about who you are selling to, what your partners are doing, industry trends, etc. There are even groups for most conferences now (Cisco Live, EMC World, Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, etc.). I suggest you join a few groups that are meaningful to you and set yourself up to receive a weekly digest (note that more frequent options are available). Start by observing aka “social listening”. And when you see a topic of interest, comment! If you have a question or opinion, start a discussion. It’s a great way to network and an even better way to educate and influence!
- With social, it’s as easy as ABC – Always Be Connecting. You know that…you’re a seller. I’m just asking you to translate that into becoming a social seller. Commit to connecting with new prospects, clients, partners and influencers. Heck, I’m guessing even many of your neighbors are connected to people with whom you’d like to connect! Have you looked recently? Recently, someone said to me, “but if I connect on LinkedIn, my competitors will have access to my clients.” Really?!? Your competitors can use Google, RainKing, Hoover’s, OneSource or good ‘ol cold calling to get the same information. And you can limit who can see your connections! Don’t make excuses. Always Be Connecting.
- Post an Update 2-3 Times/Week – What’s an update, you say? Or who has time to think of an update? LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to share updates – quickly and easily. And if you have a Twitter account, you can simply associate your account with your LinkedIn profile and push out updates through two social platforms at the same time! Yep, it’s that easy. Now what should you say? Share news from a press release, company recognition, survey findings, a quote, whatever suits you and your style!
- Log in Daily – I log in first thing every morning and glance at LinkedIn (and TweetDeck) periodically throughout the day when I need a mental break. I often click through to Harvard Business Review articles, acknowledge a connections promotion, comment on someone else’s update and more. What do I get from LinkedIn? A constant stream of relevant information that helps me personally and professionally. I also have the opportunity to share news, updates, email content (and more!) with colleagues, partners and friends that I think may benefit. By paying it forward and maintaining relationships via LinkedIn, I know that my network will be there for me when I need them!
If you’re in sales and just getting started, I’d love to hear what’s holding you back. If you’re in sales and leveraging LinkedIn to network, prospect and engage, we’d all love to learn from you.