LinkedIn is not just for job searching anymore! Toss aside the 9 to 5 job board options LinkedIn is known for and start thinking of the platform as your biggest lead generation tool yet!
In my first couple weeks of business and before I had even launched my website, I had four business leads…with no marketing, no pitching, and no cold calling. The best part was they wanted me! I didn’t pursue them or try to sell them any services. They asked to learn more about how to hire me all from one little no-brainer strategy.
Before I tell you the step that brings me a large portion of my business leads, you need to make sure that your LinkedIn page is set-up correctly. I have a FREE LinkedIn email course called 4 Days to LinkedIn Success if you are unsure of your strategy on the platform.
Unprofessional accounts mean that nobody will take you seriously or want to engage with you. You must be at the top of your game online and be strategic about what you say!
1. Follow ALL the LinkedIn Profile Rules
This means a professional profile picture (no selfie, no military uniform, and no casual clothes). Get in your best CEO-outfit and pay to have professional images taken (Need a little inspiration? Shameless plug to my photography page).
Next, fill out all your work experience. If you’re a veteran, make sure your profile is “civilianized” (my background in military transition is coming out here!). Use your work experience as your major selling point! All your descriptions need to be completely filled out with statistics of success in those positions.
2. Position Yourself as a Thought-Leader
There are several ways to do this. The first needs to be in your summary section. Most people make the mistake of talking about themselves in this summary. Instead, your summary needs to show how you will help others (specifically future employers and clients). This is your time to shine – don’t waste it by listing all your job duties. Instead, use specific keywords so that you are easily searchable on LinkedIn and use this section to explain the various ways you can solve a client’s problems. Using numbers, percentages, and statistics here is vital. If they never make it down to your experience section, you need to sell yourself at the top.
To position yourself as a thought-leader further, incorporate your blog into your LinkedIn strategy or use the LinkedIn Publishing feature to blog there. The more you are able to write good content about your niche, the more you will be seen as “smart” on the topic. In military life, we say that when we aren’t good at something to “go find a ‘smart’ person.” That needs to be you.
3. Actually Network
Don’t just add all the people you know, your old coworkers, and your high school friends…that is only going to get you so far. The old rules of LinkedIn were that you should only add the people you knew. Roll that horrible “rule” up into a little ball and throw it in the trash! LinkedIn is for networking – network with people you don’t know! This means searching for those in your niche or industry, other business owners, and those who could be your potential clients. Once you’ve identified those profile accounts, using LinkedIn correctly can begin.
Now that you’re set up to use LinkedIn, it’s time to use it to create leads. Below is how I bring in a majority of my business leads without pitching anything on LinkedIn.
This next part is mind-blowing!
“Hi [insert first name]!
Thanks for connecting with me! Looking forward to seeing your posts and learning more about [XYZ company]. I also do [XYZ things], so it looks like we have similar [industries/interests/positions] in common! Let me know if you ever need anything! I love networking and would be happy to help spread the word about your company, introduce you to any of my connections, or [share information on something you’re good at (for me this is social media!)].
Let me know if I can ever be of assistance! I would love to chat with you more about what you do! Let me know if you have free time this week!
Have a great [morning/afternoon/evening/week/weekend]!
Wait, that’s it? What’s the catch?
Oh yeah…I send that to every single person I connect with! Now, that’s a lot of people and some of those people never respond (“How rude!” – Stephanie Tanner), but by messaging, you are more likely to have that connection check out your profile. When they do, they will see that you have an amazing LinkedIn page that truly shows your value and what you can do for them (because of course you’re only adding people targeted to your industry and services). If they like what they see, they may respond.
If the connection loves what you do, awesome! If they don’t, also fine! You can’t expect every person to be your perfect client and the point here is to network, not just make sales!
The next step is a lot harder…you have to engage back! Now that you’ve piqued their interest and provided them an opportunity to receive something from you (advice, a conversation, a job, a connection introduction, etc.), you can get to networking!
If the small chat goes well and they haven’t already agreed to a phone call, ask if they have time to jump on the phone. Use this opportunity to learn more about what each other does for a living. Make sure the conversation is them-focused. This phone call can lead to one of a few things:
1. They ask you about your career history and you tell them about your business. They love it and want to know how to get involved.
2. They don’t seem to care and you part ways with a “wonderful to meet you” and “let’s stay in touch” (which you will because you are the best at following up and staying in touch).
3. Or they are not interested in what you do or hiring you, but may know someone you should speak to or will recommend you to someone else.
Oh yeah…and all of this comes up in natural conversation. The best part is that it brings you the most badass clients EVER! These people are great because they either sought you out from your profile (once you reached out to them, of course) or they introduced you to a bunch of other people who do want to work with you.
Since you are providing value to so many others, the karma will eventually come around to help you. Networking is essential and social media is one of the best ways to accomplish it. LinkedIn can be one of your biggest lead magnets if you use it properly.
Want to join a community of military spouse and veteran entrepreneurs just like you? Gain advice and tips on marketing and social media for those in the military community here!
Jenny Hale is a marketing and social media consultant, coach, and teacher for military spouse and veteran business owners. Nicknamed “The Military Social Media Guru,” she uses her background working with military non-profits, corporate companies, the Army, and as an entrepreneur to help others struggling to meet their business dreams. With the goal of bridging the gap between the military community’s marketing efforts to civilians and vice versa, Jenny works to make an entrepreneur’s vision come to life. You can follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.