How to Generate Leads with LinkedIn

January 30, 2012
How to generate leads with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great way to connect with colleagues and former business partners, but it also has the power to bring you more business — if you do it right. Here’s three ways to use LinkedIn to generate leads for your company.

Answer questions

Take time once or twice a week to visit LinkedIn Answers and see what people are discussing. Has someone asked a question you can answer? Is there a discussion thread to which you can contribute? Get your name out there and prove yourself to be a helpful and trustworthy resource (use the “Refine Search” section to narrow down to industry-related questions).

Join groups

With over a million LinkedIn Groups available, choosing just a few to join can be difficult. Join as many in which you have time to participate, but keep in mind that there are only two kinds of groups you should join:

  1. Industry-related groups - Join these groups to network with individuals in your industry. Ask questions, share advice, and brand yourself as an intelligent resource.
  2. Target market groups - Join groups in which your target customers participate. If your target customer is a steel and welding business, join LinkedIn groups where those people congregate.

This is a tricky process, because these two types of groups are not the same, and require different communication styles; if you’re a marketing agency, you can talk about your services much more quickly in a marketing group than you can in a group where you’re trying to generate leads.

It’s important to join groups where your prospective customers are, but it’s just as important not to elbow your way into a niche group and start slinging your sales pitch. When you join a group, lay low for a little while — see what people are discussing, and what questions keep popping up. Build trust by offering light guidance now and then before ever mentioning your company. Keep it all about them and not about your business.

Once you’ve gained trust with individual members of the group, send them a connection invitation. If you’re routinely sharing content on your LinkedIn profile, your new connections will see that and hopefully ask to learn more about how you can help them solve their problems.

Make more connections

Use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature to find new people with whom to connect.

Filter by “2nd Connections” or higher to search for people with whom you have connections in common, and use your existing LinkedIn network to get an introduction: “I notice you’re connected to [person], do you feel comfortable introducing us?”

The entire purpose of LinkedIn is to make connections — don’t be afraid to ask for introductions!

Tips and tricks

  • Being “sales-y” is the worst way to behave on LinkedIn. Be there to solve other people’s problems, not copy-paste your sales pitches.
  • Include a link to your LinkedIn company page in your connection invitations and postings in your groups. This gives people a way to learn more about your company and its services without your even mentioning them.
  • Don’t join more groups than you can keep up with. It’s better to post routinely in one or two groups than never in half a dozen.
  • Keep your personal LinkedIn profile up-to-date with your job description and current photo of yourself. People want to connect with a person, not a profile page.

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Leave your tried and true methods for generating leads on LinkedIn in the comments below!

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