LinkedIn lead generationLinkedIn is often overlooked when it comes to social media strategies, but when used well its influences can be paramount. Sure, it may not be as imaginative as Instagram or as friendly as Facebook, but LinkedIn is an invaluable resource for businesses and individuals.

It is the perfect platform for B2B marketing. Studies have shown that the percentage of B2B leads generated through LinkedIn is at a staggering 80.33 %. Which, in comparison to Twitter’s 12.73% and Google+ (yes, it still exists) 0.2%, is pretty impressive.

The hardest part can just be getting started. In fact, 77% of B2B marketers plan to increase their use of LinkedIn, but are hindered by unclear strategies and methodologies. However, using our marketing knowhow, we have complied this short how-to guide for making your LinkedIn profile lead the way to more opportunities.

Connect with your audience (and actually talk to them)

Like any affective business strategy, you need to identify your target audience. LinkedIn is not really a site for overt selling. Its primary purpose is connecting and networking, making it ideal for lead generation.

To start building your lead bank, hone in on what roles you are looking for. Think about who would be interested in your product. Ask yourself: Who are the influential people in my target industry? Who is most likely to understand my product or service?

Consider connecting and talking with the CMOs, CEOs, COOs and other department heads of businesses in your industry. You have the opportunity to create great first impressions through personalised and courteous connection messages, rather than simply using the standardised “please connect me to your LinkedIn profile”. Make an effort. Everyone likes to feel special.

Next, rather than bombarding your new connection with a 500-word hard sell, introduce yourself and your company in a friendly tone and propose scheduling a short phone call. Make a note of when you connected and send a polite follow-up message a week or two later. Creating an Excel spreadsheet for possible leads can be a great tool to alleviate this process, as you can safely store names and contact information in one organised space.

Once you have your connections you will need to nurture them. LinkedIn is a community of professionals, so congratulate them for their successes and share in their experiences. The next step is all about harnessing that community and unlike P.E lessons, you do win just by participating.

Make your profile a resource

Content strategists are always talking about how important it is that you establish yourself as an expert in your industry. Now, we already know that you are one, but online – you are going to have to prove it. Luckily, there are a myriad of ways you can do so.

We have said it before: share educational, meaningful and relevant content and your audience will stick around long after you have finished doing business. By offering people something more than just a selling point you will encourage brand loyalty, while building leads and boosting your credibility. Remember, this is your chance to show off.

Creating content specifically for LinkedIn can be a very helpful strategy, but you can also repurpose or tailor existing content to use on your profile. You can share it directly or reach even further by uploading it onto Pulse.

Now not everyone has a dedicated and trained team of in-house writers, so short of hiring a copywriter, the next best thing would be sharing other people’s content. Share articles and relevant industry news and frame them with your own insight or opinions.

Too often businesses make the mistake of talking and never listening, but the key to a successful social media campaign is communication. Ask questions and start a dialogue or conversation. Show that you are engaged, essential to your industry and that your input and association will be invaluable to potential leads.

If you want to go even further, start a group. By creating a group specific to your industry you will attract leads organically and like fish in a barrel, you can pluck out the clients that will suit you best. Equally, running a group will get your name out there and give you authority in your community.

Look for posts that get the most responses and engage with them, offer advice and create content of your own. Do not over contribute, but once or twice a week should suffice and if you keep at it, the number of contributors will grow and soon it will be running itself.

Go Premium

Once you have completed these steps your connections should grow dramatically. But now what do you do with all this information?

Most people are aware of InMail messages for LinkedIn Pro members, but it also provides another service called Sales Navigator. With some filters such as company size, relationship level and current company already available, Sales Navigator allows to narrow down your filters further and save your searches and potential leads.

This service opens LinkedIn up and gives you the opportunity to save companies, view all of their employees and connect with those outside of your circle. You can save and track updates and news relating to your tabs and ensure that you are well informed before you make contact. LinkedIn currently offers a free 30-day trial.

LinkedIn is the slow burner of social media, but it is worth the investment. Keep your profile pruned and polished, make sure you are contactable and remember to be an active part of the community. LinkedIn is not the final stage – all these efforts are there to draw traffic back to your own site or product. But by following these easy steps you should be well on your way to taking the lead.