A lot of us use LinkedIn because everyone is on there and so we want to have a presence as well. Most people see it as something you set up with all of your business details then leave it and gradually gather connections. You don’t expect much to happen but you may as well have an account on there anyway. That’s about right, eh?
Actually, we can get some real business going on using LinkedIn as with all of the social networks if we spent time realising how to use it properly. LinkedIn expects you to make connections but then we need to interact with those connections otherwise… what a waste. Why cold call when businesses are offering contact with them on a plate.
One of the great ways to build a quality network and hot buying community is through using LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn groups are little online communities which are so easy to set up. They’re a bit like the ‘business breakfast meetings’ you so often find active in towns and cities where one of each type of business can join and you all help each other out and refer business within the group. Obviously, you can restrict membership of your LinkedIn group to invitation only or to let anyone join, it’s up to you but you get the idea. It’s the same thing just online which means you have access to so many more businesses and individuals regardless of location.
As the leader of the group, people will automatically see you as an authority on the subject for which you have set up the group. You can oversee and direct the subject of conversation with these potential customers. It’s not a good idea to use these groups as a sales pitching environment though. No-one wants to join a community just so they can constantly be sold to. The better approach is to engage your community with content they want to read and view. It will enhance their view of you as an expert in your field and confidence in your business will grow and grow. Your members may not necessarily buy from you directly, but they’ll then know who to recommend when any of their business contacts and associates ask.
Your approach to setting up and maintaining your LinkedIn group should be:
1. Lead messages, questions and conversations. Chair your group so you can keep it on topic and spark conversation.
2. Create quizzes, polls and mini questionnaires to gather information but also to show your group that you are interested in them and not just sales from them.
3. Email your group with info, invites, vouchers and giveaways which will help them in their businesses
4. Answer questions. Don’t just leave it to everyone else to chip in. If you answer questions you’ll further enhance their impression of you as someone who is knowledgeable in the field and a business problem solver
5. Run a video webinar to demonstrate something or to teach. People love watching rather than just reading but often don’t have time to attend webinars in person.
6. Add the members of your group to your connections and therefore be seen by their connections.
I know you’re thinking, ok, this is time consuming stuff. Yes, I agree, but you build it gradually over time and then what a fantastic sales environment you’ve got! If you’re a large company you’ll have a sales department and this should be one of their sales techniques. Ultimately, they want to sell and keeping in regular contact with a targeted group of potential customers is what it’s all about. This is a lot cheaper and more effective than advertising! If you’re a small company then you can outsource social marketing management like this. The manager of the group doesn’t have to be the actual expert themselves, they just need to be in regular contact with that expert to manage it on their behalf, keep abreast of industry news and reference the enormous wealth of relevant information online. It can be done straightforwardly giving you your own freelance sales department at a fraction of the cost per month of having a full time member of staff without any of the employment risks. It’s a superb tool not to be overlooked.