Social Media: Social media take on many different forms, including Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content." In other words, social media are media designed for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialog.
Since most companies will only allow their salespeople to use LinkedIn as a social media tool for business, our attention will be focused on that. Since LinkedIn is a networking and sharing tool, it has to be used as such. The best LinkedIn members exhibit the following behaviors:
- They seek first to connect, rather than be connected
- They’re solid contributors to the groups they belong to
- When asking for connections, they give a valuable reason for doing so
- They publish articles and relevant points of view
- They treat it as a listening platform, NOT a selling platform
- Their profiles are at 100% with professional “pieces of flair”
LinkedIn as a Selling Tool:
LinkedIn helps salespeople establish their professional profile online, stay in touch with colleagues and friends, and find experts, ideas and opportunities. As selling tool, you must use LinkedIn as a venue for trading influence and insight for the products and services you sell, your own personal credibility as a sales professional, and for potential interested parties looking for credible sources of supply. Here are some valuable tips, insights and must do’s when using LinkedIn in a sales context.
Familiarize yourselves with your company’s social media policy. It will be important to understand the boundaries around what you can say about your firm, about yourself, and about topics of interest to which you have and share an opinion. Your competition is on LinkedIn as well.
Build your online identity: Your profession is more dependent on your online identity than ever before. Creating a LinkedIn profile is the best place to start. Your prospects are looking at your LinkedIn profile so make sure you update it often and give your prospects an excellent representation of who you are. To make your LinkedIn profile is “100% complete”, use theImprove Your Profile feature (Yellow Button) to:
- Include all companies, roles, education, certifications, and awards.
- Work with your marketing department to get the best/approved pitch for your firm.
- Share references - the more we know about you the better. (5-10 will do).
- The more robust your profile, the greater the chance for common ground with others.
- Provide information to prospects to make the sales process more efficient.
- Reflect the little things that matter- awards, public service, military, special skills.
Groups - Get new opportunities: From the LinkedIn Groups to the Answers page, thousands of people a day are looking for help making decisions. As a sales person you should be in these groups and set up email alerts to scan the groups to see if you can offer help and create a new opportunity.
Start a Group: Be the connector for other interested parties. Pick a theme and go. The quickest way to get and grow your credibility is to become an expert. Offer your advice, guidance and experience to get millions of LinkedIn users seeing you trying to help others make decisions.
Get some credibility: This goes along with the last tip but in more detail. As you get more experience, you should be helping other professionals by answering questions. As you help people even if it’s only a couple times a week you will see your profile being looked at by more and more people.
Grow your pipeline: As you build your network, become an expert in your space and build your personal brand, you will find more people coming to you for help related to your product or service. This will create a snow ball effect and eventually people from all over LinkedIn will be singing your praises and driving more leads to you.
Adapted from Why is a LinkedIn Profile Important? Published by joshua.combs in Blog, Social Media on May 18th, 2011. Thank you to Josh.