Recently, Martin Brossman and I taught a Social Selling with LinkedIn professional development course at NC State University – Technology Training Solutions. NCSU-TTS is a non-profit division of NC State that delivers technical training to business owners and working professionals. The course is six hours and can be taken during the day or in two evenings.
The course heavily emphasizes the use of LinkedIn to develop your professional brand, your company’s brand and how to tactically engage targeted members with content. As the class began it was apparent where Martin and I needed to put our focus: The LinkedIn Profile.
To our surprise, students were very concerned with how they looked to others on the social network. Professional brand is a key tenant of social selling. They wanted to understand how they can be found as well as how can they present themselves better than their competition. Martin and I discussed how they should utilize every section of their profile to the best of their ability and pay particular attention to how they use keywords in each of the keyword zones in their profile. We also discussed the differences between an employer-facing and a customer-facing profile and how they can use each one to establish their brand.
Those students that were business owners wanted to understand more about how they can develop and utilize their company page. A great question that was asked if they should share content on their company page and then re-share it on with their personal profile. We recommended this approach so long as they provided context with the update they are sharing. To many times, business owners have a difficult time establishing the difference between themselves and the business. How you curate, create and distribute content can influence this perception.
Students got a really close look at some tactics to engage with prospects. For example, finding the recent activity of a prospect and commenting on their update. Believe it or not, LinkedIn doesn’t make it easy to find recent updates. The menu is located in two different locations in the “hero” section of the profile which depend on your degree of connection with them. Also, students were shown how to engage with rich media and long form posts, including “liking” and commenting on such content as well as the benefits of groups and how to privately message and connect with other group members.
Content was an important discussion point. One student showed how she was using her company page to build a series around a topic. Her approach to this was by sharing an article from a website and providing context in the update. While this approach is fine, we recommended to her to write a blog post about the article and then share her blog post in your company update. This way she is bringing traffic through her side as opposed to her customers bypassing it. From this, we also discussed how to find content and identify those that share it using BuzzSumo and how to measure your social influence with Klout. It was important for the class to understand that content is what helps the sales person influence the buyer’s journey.
While we did discuss a number of other topics, like the Social Selling Hour Glass and how social selling is about opening, not closing, the students took away a wealth of knowledge that will help them implement a social selling routine and a stronger professional brand. It’s also important to note that Martin and I did not teach them how to sell. We showed them how to engage by developing there social selling skills.
For more information about our course and it’s schedule please visit: Social Selling with LinkedIn at NC State University – Technical Training Solutions.