LinkedIn users, we need to talk. We need to talk about the big, gigantic elephant in the room because I'm exhausted.
Why are you on LinkedIn? What is the purpose of it for you as a business owner? Let's pull some truths out the hat here.
For most people, LinkedIn is a platform for finding and engaging with new prospective clients. Why else are people using LinkedIn?
Well, I've met a few people who've told me that they enjoy the social interactions and they prefer to be social in a professional and business context rather than the entertainment and sillyness of a platform like Facebook. Fair enough, enjoy! :-)
And there's another reason that people prefer Linkedin to Facebook or Instagram. We're all a lot more polite, friendly and helpful to each other on LinkedIn than on other platforms. Let's be honest about why that is though. It's because we fear repercussions on our business or reputation if we 'say the wrong thing'.
So, are we being genuine? Or, are we being superficial?
It seems to me that not very many people are seeking to make genuine connections with each other on LinkedIn. It seems to me that we are all just trying to sell to each other without even trying to get to know each other first. And that's the giant elephant sitting right there in the middle of the room, isn't it? We're all selling, but is anyone actually buying?
Well, yes. But only after certain criteria have been met.
How many of you have got hundreds of connection requests and messages in your inbox from people trying to directly SELL to you? I've got a tonne.
My personal favourite was a connection who messaged me saying; "thanks for connecting. Do you know anyone who is in debt because I help them get out of it? Here's my website".
I instantly removed the connection and blocked him as I do with anybody who tries to sell to me immediately, or who tells me they aren't interested in engaging with me further (I wonder why they connected in the first place?!).
Let's take Mr Debt as a good example. If a complete stranger walked up to you in the street, introduced themselves, then promptly asked you whether you knew anyone who was in debt and asked you to refer them to you; would that seem normal, reasonable, polite, professional? Or, would it just seem downright creepy, desperate and rude?
Yep, pretty creepy and pretty rude.
Yet people continue to sell directly through LinkedIn, choosing to ignore the social norms we generally enjoy in the real world.
So, what can you do? Ultimately, you want new clients and you may even need them 'urgently'.
Here's the thing that some people are misunderstanding when it comes to LinkedIn. It is a professional networking platform. It is not an instant sales mechanic.
People buy from people and brands that they know, like and trust. You have to build rapport with people before they will consider buying from you. In fact, you need to reach people with 16 touchpoints (some research suggests 24) before they actually buy from you; UNLESS they have an urgent problem that can't wait any longer. Then, they'll make the decision almost immediately.
Knowing, liking and trusting becomes even more important for coaches and consultants, especially if you want to close high-ticket sales.
Importantly, you have to demonstrate your expertise to give them certainty that you can solve their problem. You have to demonstrate the results you can achieve. Most importantly of all, you have to be really specific about the results you can bring and your expectations of what they will bring to the relationship to make it successful.
Getting results takes time and consistent effort. There is not a single successful entrepreneur or businessperson who will tell you that it was super easy to get where they've got, or that they got results straight away.
Let me be totally straight with you. Like many business owners, I use LinkedIn as a core part of my own marketing strategy to help me attract and engage with new prospective clients, but here's what's different about my approach.
Firstly, I'm not interested in working with just 'anybody'.
I only work with people who meet certain criteria, the first being that I've engaged with them and built a genuine relationship. They also have to have a problem that I can genuinely solve for them. So many times when people first approach me, they tell me they have previously worked with a 'marketing person' and they didn't get any results or their marketing still didn't work.
It usually comes down to over-egged promises and ill-defined expectations.
These expectations include choosing to work with people who are ready, willing and able to put the work in with my help and support.
We need to work with people who are a good match with us. It's a two-way street, and the street shouldn't have a giant elephant standing in the middle of it (meaning you expect them to buy from you without any previous engagement and them buying from you is all you care about).
Transparency is everything when it comes to setting up a new client relationship. Before any kind of 'sale' takes place, both parties have to be comfortable that each can bring the right expertise, effort and attitude to the party.
So, here are 5 tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn for small business marketing.
Don't just connect with 'anybody'. Connect only with people who seem to be within your target audience, or referral partner target (yes, I made a mistake with Mr Debt).
When someone accepts your connection request, engage with them. This doesn't mean try to sell. It means ask a question, start a conversation, or share some content that may be of interest to them.
If new connections don't engage with you, or tell you 'no thanks' before you've even spoken with them, then remove the connection - they are not going to be your client and are diluting your audience by continuing to be part of it (brutal, I know).
Share useful, insightful and valuable content, insights and tips. Be helpful, engage with people through comments on posts, help each other by liking, commenting or sharing your connections' content.
Change your newsfeed settings (go to 'improve your feed' on the homepage) and make it more relevant to you, your current job role/industry and the target audience you want to get to know, or want to see your content.
Finally, change your perception and attitude about what this platform will do for you. You're here to be part of the conversation and the community, not to be a used car salesman! Relax, engage, chat, get to know, be inquisitive, enjoy!!
Stevie V Brown coaches small business owners’ to increase their marketing know-how, build their confidence and create and implement a growth marketing strategy that attracts and nurtures more of their ideal clients and gets them paid what they're truly worth. Apply for a FREE Marketing Accelerator with Stevie and get crystal clear on the next 3 actions you can take to grow your business today.