After years of research and conversation with sales and marketing executives on LinkedIn best practices, we developed, and now updated, an e-book called “Leveraging LinkedIn for Manufacturers.” We felt that the results of these conversations would be useful to Crain’s Cleveland Business readers.
LinkedIn has become a powerful tool for networking, business development and improving both a manufacturing company’s and an individual’s reputation. Manufacturers utilize the platform to both prospect for business and provide a canvas in which to paint their company’s story.
Like every tool, online or physical, the proper use requires skill and training. When engaging with manufactures in a discussion on best practices, one of the most common questions is, “How can I use LinkedIn better.” Salespeople struggle with the basic elements of their online profile, how to grow their network, the fundamentals of online content and, in the end, how to create connections that will allow them to sell better, easier and more efficiently.
There are several essential elements of a LinkedIn profile. A great profile photo is the place to start. For example, no selfies, no photos with half of the other person’s arm, or inappropriate photos for a business setting. Next, consider your background image and a strong headline that illustrates your value proposition. No need to be a designer, as there are free tools such as Canva that makes graphics easy. Also, create a strong headline to position your skill set. Your headline sits just below the profile photo and background image.
The Recommendations & Endorsements section is another aspect of LinkedIn that can improve your profile. This is often a “give to get” scenario. Using the skills endorsements of your connections often result in reciprocation. Consider drafting a sample recommendation your colleague can use as a guide when writing an endorsement for your profile.
Expanding your network is crucial to the success of your LinkedIn efforts. Three tactics you can use to engage prospects include the expertise angle, project angle and the point-of-view angle. For example, using the point-of-view angle, you reach out to establish a connection with a prospect by requesting their professional opinion. You mention their known skills, perhaps using one of their posts as an example, and request a connection.
Using content is the key to attracting and engaging your network. When posting articles to LinkedIn, it is important to focus on the interests of your prospects. While original content is valuable, we subscribe to the theory that 1 of 4 posts should be original content. The balance, curated content, often features valuable ideas from industry blogs, published research, trends and even your customer’s website. Google Alerts are also a great way to find ideas as well as surveys and reports.
LinkedIn Jobs can be a prospecting tool. Following target accounts for personnel changes. such as that pesky gatekeeper that never lets you through on the phone, can be a secret weapon when you are the first to know who retired. Another golden prospecting nugget is the folks that “like” and interact with that stellar content. Try importing all your contacts into your CRM for ongoing nurturing and development. These and many more tips and examples have been culled from years of client interaction.
Felber is president of Felber Public Relations & Marketing in Twinsburg.