While LinkedIn is often times dismissed as just a “Facebook” for business people, it is actually an incredibly powerful tool for lead generation. This is especially true for businesses and freelancers in the B2B realm. Used correctly, LinkedIn can provide enough leads to fuel a business for years to come, even making other forms of traffic/lead gen obsolete in some cases. Let’s take a look at how you can get started with LinkedIn, and how to use it to generate leads, overcome B2B sales obstacles, and grow your business.
What is LinkedIn?
At first glance, LinkedIn may appear to be nothing but a Facebook ripoff with a business spin on it. When it first started, this may have been the case to some degree, but these days the platform has evolved to become much more.
At its core LinkedIn is indeed a social networking site for business professionals. While you may be thinking “so what?” consider the fact that social media is an extremely powerful tool for connecting people. Taking this into account, LinkedIn is an excellent place to find employment, employees, and short-term contractors. If you need someone to do something, or if you have a service and/or products to offer, you can bet you’ll find what you’re looking for on LinkedIn with a little digging.
What LinkedIn is Not
Despite the massive potential for finding clients/customers on LinkedIn, you should keep in mind that it is not a job board type site like Upwork, or Freelancer.com. Generating B2B leads on LinkedIn is not as simple as just doing a search, and browsing the results.
That said, LinkedIn definitely has its advantages over job board style sites, such as lower fees, and the fact that you don’t have to wade through multitudes of shady employers, and cheap bottom feeding contractors in order to make quality connections. If you’re sick of trying to find work on job boards, of if other lead generation methods are failing you, LinkedIn is an excellent place for B2B lead gen.
Start With Your Profile
Now that you know a little about what LinkedIn is all about, let’s go over the ins and outs of LinkedIn lead generation. First thing’s first, you’re going to have to create your profile.
When making your profile on LinkedIn, you have to look at it from the perspective of individuals who may want to hire you and/or your company. This isn’t like filling out a Facebook profile where you can just throw up anything you want, and expect the connections to come rolling in. Most people are on LinkedIn to either find work, or find help, so keep that in mind.
Something else to keep in mind when creating your profile is what you and your business can do for potential clients. Your profile should be able to quickly and easily explain this, kind of like a sales letter, but without the selling. This especially applies to your headline as this is what potential leads will likely see first. If you don’t have a basic understanding of how copywriting works, you may want to brush up on that before writing your headline.
Other elements you’ll be filling out are Experiences, Education, and Skills. Each is self-explanatory, just try not to get too caught up in the details, and try to keep the info related to the services and/or products your business offers.
Aside from your photo and headline, the summery is the most important part of your profile. Keep it short and to the point. If it looks like it would be a pain to read at a glance, no one is going to read it. Above all else though, make sure you write it with your target audience in mind.
Your summary should instantly tell them what you have to offer, and how it benefits them. While mentioning your achievements can be okay, don’t get too caught up in dwelling on past successes. Instead work on communicating with the reader that you can help them here and now, just don’t be too aggressive or salesy with it. Remember, LinkedIn is about forming real connections with real people, not selling.
Generating B2B Leads On LinkedIn
Unfortunately B2B lead gen on LinkedIn isn’t as easy as just setting up your profile, and waiting for the leads to pour in. Instead, you’ll be using several other techniques to get the leads flowing. Some are more aggressive, while others are more passive. Either way, you’ll have to take action to get the ball rolling, and there are two main ways to do that.
One of the more passive methods for getting hot B2B leads on LinkedIn is using the platforms blogging feature. This allows you to present yourself as an expert in your niche/industry, and market your services without sounding like a salesman. Just remember that these articles should be helpful, and offer real value. People do business with those they like, know, and trust, and blogging on LinkedIn is a great way to fulfill all three of these criteria. Just remember that this is a long-term strategy, leads aren’t going to roll in overnight. This is offset by the fact that the leads you do get will be of very high-quality with a very good chance of being converted into clients/customers.
2. Cold Messaging
One of the biggest differences between LinkedIn and other social media platforms is that who you can and can’t message is strictly controlled. This is because LinkedIn doesn’t want people spamming up the site by messaging every potential lead they find in a sort of “scattershot” style of marketing. Instead, you’ll need to pick and choose the people you send messages to very carefully, and make each message count. Similar to how cold email works, these cold messages are not for selling, but rather for connecting, and they work best if you remember that you’re talking to an actual person.
Converting Leads to Clients/Customers
Once you begin getting leads on LinkedIn, it’s time to take a look at the other half of the equation: converting those leads into paying clients/customers. Depending on the nature of your business, you’ll be going about this in several different ways.
1. Link Them To Your Site or Profile on a Job Site
If you’re a contractor/freelancer, the next step to take with an interested lead will likely be to either link them to your website so that they can check out your services/products, or link them to your profile on a job site like Upwork where they can hire you directly and/or view your portfolio. Either way, make sure you focus on what it is you can do for them, rather than aggressively trying to sell to them.
2. Talk on the Phone
If you run a small to medium sized business, the next step will usually be a phone call. Sometimes your lead will suggest it, other times you’ll need to be the one to bring it up. Needless to say, getting a lead on the phone is a huge step towards converting them into a client/customer.
3. Meet in Person
In some cases you’ll find that leads you connect with actually live in your area. This is especially true if your business is focused on serving local clients/businesses. Meeting face to face is even better than a phone call as it helps to reinforce the bond that you’re creating between yourself and the lead. If you run a large business that serves clients nationally, or internationally, you may find yourself hopping on a plane to meet with your lead. While this may seem like a questionable expense, if a client is willing to call you out to their location for a face to face meeting (and hopefully cover your travel expenses) they’re usually pretty serious about doing business with you.
Unleash the Power of LinkedIn for Your B2B Business
LinkedIn lead generation is an incredibly powerful tool for just about any B2B business. In fact, statistics state that 78% of B2B marketers praise the platform for being highly effective for content marketing efforts. On top of that, studies have shown LinkedIn to be 277% more effective than platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for generating B2B leads. At this point LinkedIn is essentially the king of B2B lead generation online.
With all of that said, using LinkedIn does take some getting used to as it isn’t like any other social media platform out there, and for good reason. LinkedIn is a place for professionals to connect with one another, and form lasting business relationships.
Furthermore, how successful you are on LinkedIn depends a lot on how proactive you are. Similar to how cold email works, the more people you contact, and/or the more articles you write, the more success you’ll find. It’s a numbers game, but one that doesn’t encourage spam. Pick your shots, and make them count.
Also remember that the lead generation process on LinkedIn can be automated very easily. This is a great way to save time (and money) when marketing your services/products on the platform. For more information on how you can automate your LinkedIn lead gen efforts, go here.