How to harness LinkedIn’s network to increase your sales

LinkedIn’s pay-per-click program is unique because it allows you to advertise to selected types of individuals or businesses based on criteria such as company size, ...

There are more than 277 million people with a LinkedIn account today. That’s more than one-third of the total estimated number of 600 million business professionals worldwide.

According to LinkedIn, this represents the largest group anywhere of influential, affluent and educated people.

At the same time, if you’re like many other business professionals, you have probably built your profile on LinkedIn, connected with associates and friends, perhaps even posted some job ads on LinkedIn, but you have likely not fully leveraged LinkedIn’s sales and marketing potential yet. If so, keep reading, and discover the three tools that may work well for your business.

Start at business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions to get an idea of a range of LinkedIn solutions for your marketing, such as display advertising, sponsored InMail and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. In addition, go to your account and click on Upgrade to learn about the additional benefits of different levels of membership for sales professionals, such as Business Plus, Executive and Sales Professional membership levels.

There are many ways to market on LinkedIn, but here are the three techniques that we are finding the most effective, yet very simple to follow:

1. Get introduced

This is a powerful marketing feature on LinkedIn. The first step is to use LinkedIn’s advanced search to find companies or executives that meet your criteria (to do a good job at search, you might need to upgrade your account). If you already have several hundred connections on LinkedIn, you will soon realize that quite a few of your targeted companies, i.e. potential clients, are second- or third-degree connections, and you will be able to discover how you are connected with those prospective clients.

This is where you can use LinkedIn’s “get introduced” feature to get in touch with your prospects. Alternatively, instead of sending a message via LinkedIn, you can just use the old-fashioned phone and personally call your first-degree connections, requesting that they introduce you to your second-degree connections.

2. Targeted advertising

Similar to advertising on Google, LinkedIn has a PPC advertising program (www.linkedin.com/ads) that advertisers use to raise brand awareness, build relationships and source new leads. However, LinkedIn’s PPC program is unique because it allows you to advertise to selected types of individuals or businesses based on criteria such as company size, industry, job title, function or seniority level.

For example, you can target HR directors of companies with between 200 and 500 employees in Canada, or you can advertise to marketing directors of  companies with more than 500 employees in the agricultural sector in the U.S. You can set your own daily budget and pay by click or by impression. This is an amazing targeted and trackable marketing tool that has great untapped marketing potential.

3. InMail

According to a recent Gigaom Research study, most digital marketers in the U.S. consider email the most effective digital marketing tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion and customer retention. Email marketing, however, has its limitations and downsides.

The key is to do it properly without compromising your credibility. This is where LinkedIn’s InMail can help. It allows you to send an email to any executive that meets your search criteria on LinkedIn. But first, you will need to upgrade your service and get a certain number of InMail credits.

At the sales executive membership level, for example, you will get 25 credits (at $79.99 a month), which will give you the right to send 25 messages. However, the nice thing about InMail is that if your prospects do not respond to you within seven days, you will get refunded for your credits so you can send another message at no extra cost.

BizTech Q&A is our answer to the most common technology questions related to your business. Email us your questions, and we will respond. 

Cyri Jones (cyri.jones@zenlaunchpad.com), founder of ZENPortfolios.ca and co-founder of Zen Launchpad, teaches at BCIT and Capilano University. Ivan Surjanovic, CEO of iPower Lab, is in Capilano University’s marketing faculty. He blogs at whereispuck.com and tweets on www.twitter.com/whereispuck.

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