Why Do You Need to Be on LinkedIn?
As we discussed in chapter one, LinkedIn is full of potential business opportunities. Everyone is using it to explore new markets, to generate viable leads, and convert more clients. And so should you, if you are not already doing it. But before you start exploring LinkedIn to grow your business, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself?
Is your target audience on LinkedIn? So, what does it mean? You need to first make sure that the people who would help you grow your business are using LinkedIn too. Before you employ your resources to use LinkedIn as an effective marketing tool, you need to be 100% sure that your prospective clients are also using linkedIn. Why is this important? Because you don't want to use your finite company resources on an ineffective marketing strategy which will end up hurting you financially and have a troll on your motivation.
Who are you looking for on LinkedIn? This is the more appropriate question to be asked. Everyone now realises the effectiveness of social media as a marketing tool. And for businesses, LinkedIn is the preferred platform. Earlier, it was only startups and tech companies using the power of social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to boost their sales and marketing plans, but now old and established businesses are using it too. Anyone would choose to ignore the power of social media platforms at their own peril.
Who are you looking for on LinkedIn?
Every business has its unique identity. It differs from industry to industry, domain to domain. Traditional advertisers come up with distinctive marketing strategies based on your business and industry. Same is also true for using LinkedIn as a marketing tool. Think of it as a brainstorming session among copywriters in an advertising agency while writing for that perfect ad copy for your brand.
No one knows your business better than you. You know who your potential buyers are. You understand the markets where your product or service is most popular. You can identify the potential vendors or suppliers. This is exactly what you need to do before you begin exploring the benefits of LinkedIn.
What are your goals with LinkedIn? Are you looking for potential buyers or new leads? How will you identify these new opportunities? Are your potential customers situated locally or internationally? Are you looking for new export opportunities? Decide this first. Be as precise as you can with your goals.
Connecting with the right people
We need to identify the key personnel who will help us achieve our goals. Like in real life, you can't have conversations with companies. Human beings talk to other human beings. Let's say, you have identified a company you are interested in to have on board as a supplier for the raw material. What to do now? You would need to approach the right person who is authorized to take such decisions on company's behalf.
This is our next goal. To identify the right people based on our goals. For ex. If you run an advertising agency, for you the right people could be CMOs, SVPs & VPs Sales and Marketing, Marketing Managers, etc. The idea is to look out for people who have the power and authority to take those decision which will help you achieve your business goals.
Connecting with other professionals might be the best marketing strategy on LinkedIn. It's super easy and that might be the reason so many people are doing it completely wrong. You don't need 10,000 random LinkedIn connections. You must connect with people who can help you with your business goals. Let's look at the major categories of people you must connect with.
1) Potential Buyers/Customers
I don't need to explain too much on this one for obvious reasons. Find out how many people from your industry are using LinkedIn and start connecting with them. The idea is to make your potential buyers aware about you and your business. Don't start with a sales pitch at your first conversation. Focus on providing value first. You can start commenting or sharing their posts and write about what they can do improve whatever they are doing. Think long term.
2) Your school/college alumni
As you climbed up the corporate ladder or started your business, your friends; your seniors; your juniors have also been doing the same in their profession. Some have reached to the top management and are now responsible for major professional decision at their companies. Some have started successful businesses and starting a conversation with them is much easier than random strangers. You always have that one thing in common, “ Hey, I just saw you also went to so and so college.” They can either be in direct position to help you or introduce you to relevant people.
3) Your competitors` clients
One thing you can be sure of is that if a company is using your competitor's products or services, you have got a chance to win them over. Connect with the key people who are responsible for taking major business decisions related to your product or services. Here too, don't behave like a sales person and think long-term. You can post an article talking about your services and the USP your business has over your competition. Maybe your prices are lower or you offer a better quality product.
4) Distributors and agents
These are the people who are responsible for actually selling the products for manufacturing companies. Connecting with them will give you an edge over your competitors. Listen to their grievances with their current suppliers/sellers. In most cases, you can win over your competitors` distributors and agents by offering them better margins on sales. Once you connect with them on LinkedIn, you can directly ask them what would it take to market sell your products. You will be shocked to see the positive response you would receive.
(We can insert a table to write down all the designations. What do you think?)
How to use the LinkedIn search?
The simplest answer is to perform a regular search LinkedIn using the search option. Let's say, you run an accounts auditing firm and are looking to connect with Chief Financial Officers. You can simply type ‘Chief Financial Officers’ in the search option and it will display a lot of profiles. These profiles would have a considerable number of Chief Financial Officers but not limited to it. The LinkedIn search is somewhat flawed. It will also pick up the non-Chief Financial Officers profiles.
This limits your strategy. You only want to connect with people who are beneficial for your business. There is no benefit of adding new connections just to increase your number. Yes, it is a social network, but you are here to socialse for your business. For your personal networks, there are too many other platforms present.
How to avoid the generic search problem?
LinkedIn has some tools to tackle the search problems. The first one is called the ‘Field Commands’ or ‘Search Operators.’ As of now, LinkedIn has 5 Search Operators. They are:
1. FirstName: To find users on the basis of their first names.
2. LastName: To find users on the basis of their last names.
3. Title: To find users on the basis of their current job titles.
4. Company: To find users on the basis of their current company (keyword search).
5. School : To find users on the basis of their College or University (keyword search).
Now, let's perform the search for Chief Financial Officer again using the Title Search Operators. All you need to do is write ‘title:chief financial officer,’ and perform the search. As you would see in the image below, the new results only contain the profiles of Chief Financial Officers. I recommend you to do the same search using the Field Command Title and you would be shocked to see the results. This small tool improves the quality of profiles you would be shown. You asked for Chief Financial Officers, you have Chief Financial Officers.
Pro Tip #1 : Boolean Search Operators
Here lies the magic and it is called Boolean Search Operator. There are 5 such operators:
1. “ ”
2. NOT / -
You want to search for software engineers who have attended either IIT Delhi or IIT Mumbai. All you need to write is ‘Title: “Software Engineer” School: (IIT Delhi or IIT Mumbai). This will only show you the profiles of software engineers who have either attended IIT Delhi or Mumbai. These operators can come in really handy if you are trying to recruit for your company.
Is there any difference in Chief Financial Officer or CFO or Head of Finance?
The answer is both yes and no. While in reality there is no difference, but for Linkedin, all of these are different job titles. This can limit your potential leads. If you are only searching for Chief Financial Officer, using field operators too, you will never be able to connect with all the people who can be useful for your business? Losing out on new connections leads to less new leads or sales opportunities. So, what is the solution?
Same as in the example we used to search for software engineers, use boolean search operators. Continuing our Chief Financial Officer example, you should write ‘Title:“Chief Financial Officer” OR Title:“CFO” OR Title:“Head of Finance” OR Title:“Finance Head” OR Title:“Chief Finance Head.”
Doing so would increase the number of results. More people to connect with means more potential leads. We all know what does having more leads means? More Business!
Pro Tip # 2
People sometimes misspell their job titles. So, Instead of Chief Financial Officer, people might write ‘Cheif Financial Officer,’ or instead of Chief Executive Officer, you may find Chief Exicuteive Officer. The point is simple: try all possible misspellings. This simple exercise would further increase the number of interested profiles.
Now, it's your turn to go on LinkedIn and try everything you have read in this chapter.
1. Who are you looking for on LinkedIn?
2. Use LinkedIn search option to connect with right people.
3. Use Search Operators to improve the search result quality.
4. Use Boolean Search Operators to further improve the search quality.
5. Use all possible alternate titles, spellings, and abbreviations to get more results.