I have been coaching high-quota Sales Professionals for many years and believe LinkedIn is one of the most important free sales tools available today.
Remember, LinkedIn is a professional tool for solving tasks. It is not a cold calling list or directory of your target clients. It IS a first place to check for current and future contacts and business, due to the high quality of the data when it is present. Since each profile is about an individual, automatic self-interest is generated for being well-represented on the web.
If you look at a person’s profile, you will get all the information they choose to make available, and also you can get a sense of how much they use LinkedIn. For example, you can note whether their Public Profile consists of their name vs. the pre-assigned random numbers and letters. If they have personalized it they are likely using LinkedIn frequently. Next, notice how many recommendations they have, how many connections they have, if they have a picture, and whether they filled out their profile. These factors all point to how comfortable they are with using LinkedIn, and possibly how receptive they will be in accepting your introduction.
Know your target clients and businesses and observe how close you are to them through LinkedIn connections. Who do you your ideal clients trust and how well connected are they to you? You want to keep building your connections closer to your clients and that is done by relating to them and building their trust, not just by sending them an invite to connect. Are there a few people that seem to be more connected to your ideal clients than others? If so, these people need to be a higher priority for building and maintaining relationships.
It’s important to understand that this is a dynamic process which still involves building trust and connections, just like traditional networking has all along–which means investing in quality people who are on the path to where you want to be.
If you are a sales professional, LinkedIn is not only a big asset to your own career but also to the company you work for. If you set up your web link back to the company web site (using the Other option) and use the right keywords in your profile that your customers use, you will enhance the web presence of your company and yourself. A true win-win. This also makes it easier for your contacts to refer YOU to other members of their company by just referring people to your public profile.
That last tip I want to share today about your LinkedIn profile is: make sure to clearly have your contact information easy to find, especially your phone number. Make sure to first include it in the Contact Settings area at the bottom of your profile, but if you are in sales I would also add it at the top in your Summary area.
Last, when should you upgrade your LinkedIn profile to the paid version? When you keep running up against the notice that says you need to upgrade to get the information you need. LinkedIn is very generous in giving a lot for the free service, so use all of it.
Since LinkedIn does such a great organic job of enhancing the brand of a business by having all their key people correctly listed on LinkedIn, you could add more value to your customers by offering resources for them to be on LinkedIn. That may be you or someone who provides LinkedIn training.