You’re running a small business. You have a limited budget for advertising, marketing, and content creation. You know that there are many options for how to use social media sites like LinkedIn to get business leads, but it often seems overwhelming to know where to begin or how to allocate your time efficiently. How can you get the most out of social media tools like LinkedIn?
My company uses LinkedIn for a lot of our own social media lead generation. We started a LinkedIn group for our industry that now has over 5,000 members, and we’ve learned a lot from our group members about how to use LinkedIn for effective lead generation.
Here are a few ideas for how any business, no matter how small, can get big marketing results on LinkedIn:
- Research, research, research. LinkedIn can be an excellent tool to research different companies to find out which companies are a good fit for the products or services that you sell. You can use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature to quickly delve into the details about companies in your industry, find out which niche markets they’re in, and learn more about what they’re looking for.
- Invest in a premium membership. LinkedIn has some very powerful tools like InMail (which allows you to send an internal LinkedIn e-mail to anyone on the site, for a price) and other features that are available if you buy one of their premium memberships. Depending on the amount of communication and access that you want to have on LinkedIn, these memberships can be a very good value.
- Start conversations (and contribute to conversations). LinkedIn is like a 24/7 networking event. It’s never been easier to have a transparent view of what the people in your industry are concerned about/excited about/talking about. Don’t be shy. Go on LinkedIn and participate in conversations about your industry. Join some groups related to your industry and see what types of questions people are asking. There might be prospective customers who are asking for help with exactly the kinds of situations that your business can help resolve. And every time you answer a question or share expertise, you are generating goodwill and building up your reputation as an expert in your field.
- Work your network. One of the basic features of LinkedIn is that it gives you a total picture of your full professional network, including everyone that is connected to you (by a few degrees of separation). You might be surprised at how closely connected you already are to some of the key decision makers that you’re trying to reach. You might even be able to get connected with key decision makers at those companies based on your existing network of contacts on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn can be a great tool for lead generation, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re from a large company, a small company, or even if you’re a solo entrepreneur. The playing field is more level than ever before, because LinkedIn makes it possible for you to find and communicate with exactly the customers and companies that are the right fit for what you offer. Instead of wasting money on advertising that doesn’t reach your intended target, you can go right to the target and strike up conversations online.
This is a guest article by Gregg Schwartz.