Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Why LinkedIn is a Pillar for B2B Relationship Building; 11 Content Tips

Braley explains why LinkedIn is Important
Written by Robyn T. Braley

LinkedIn has become one of the most powerful social media tools for business to business (B2B) selling. It is ideal for professionals wanting to grow their personal brand and to build meaningful relationships.

 
A recent conversation with a client pretty much summed up why LinkedIn has soared to the top of marketing must-haves. He observed, “When one of our sales people cold-calls a prospective client or replies to an email inquiry, before the process goes to the next step, the first place both parties go to gather background information is LinkedIn.”

“Relationship-driven marketing is what makes the B2B world go round,” he noted. “Potential customers often check out the LinkedIn profiles of our team before they go to our company website!”

He concluded, “By the time they meet face-to-face, both have learned a lot about each other.” The conversation was in the context of our meeting to start developing consistent and branded LinkedIn profiles for each of his sales and executive teams.

LinkedIn Opportunities
If you aren't on LinkedIn or don't spend much time with it, there are just a few of the goals you can achieve. LinkedIn allows you to;
·       Generate leads through social prospecting (not stalking)
·       Mobilize advanced social selling techniques
·       Increase your online presence and raise awareness of your      personal and company brands
·       Raise to the top of search results
·       Share your expertise and brand through regular posts sharing your knowledge about relevant matters
·       Build relationship by responding to connections when you receive notifications about career changes, anniversaries, etc. 
·       Signal people you want to influence that you are up-to-date and using relevant social marketing tools
 
First Impressions
LinkedIn is for professionals. Full stop! A carefully crafted profile paints a picture of who you are. Based on my first impression, I usually take 3 seconds or less to make a decision about whether to accept or delete a connection request.

If you are on LinkedIn, you have undoubtedly visited weak profiles. I have connected with business, political, community and church leaders who have LinkedIn profiles that do not accurately reflect those individuals. I connected because of a personal relationship predating LinkedIn.

What LinkedIn is Not
  • It is not the place for photos of you and your cousin fishing in Las Cabos
  • It is not the place for a full resume that includes your complete work history beginning with part time jobs in High School
  • It is not the place for informal stories about your personal life; that would be Facebook  
  • It is not the place for rants about politics, church, pets or children 
5 Key Elements 
LinkedIn IS the place for a carefully crafted story about you as a professional. Building your personal brand should drive everything you do online. LinkedIn is an excellent tool for growing your persona. Online relationship building follows five basic principles;
  • Know
  • Like
  • Trust
  • Engage
  • Close the loop
Content is Key
In developing your profile, think about the overall quality, value, relevance and authenticity your content communicates. Ask yourself these six questions;
 
1.     Is there enough content to encourage visitors to spend time getting to know me?
2.     Does the quality of my profile speak to the quality of my work?
3.     Does the content clearly state that I can be trusted?
4.     Do I come across as an authentic professional?
5.     Is there enough relationship equity to merit inviting me to link into the networks of other professionals? 
6.     Will visitors be motivated to contact me in order to take the next step in our relationship building process?

Strong Statement
In developing a connecting strategy, keep in mind that your LinkedIn network makes a statement about you. New connections will browse your network to get a sense of your influence within your industry and community.

It sounds harsh, but people you want to influence will form an opinion based on the folks you hang out with.

Other important elements include;

Ø  A photo or graphic image header that speaks to branding and context

 
Ø  A quality headshot focusing on the eyes

 

Ø  An optimized, plain language headline
 
Ø  A summary that is short and to the point
 
Ø  Information about education, volunteering, hobbies and things you care about
 
Ø  Information organized for flow and easy reading
 
Ø  Content optimized for search engines
 
Ø  Meaningful photos, videos or audio clips that help tell your story
 
Ø  Links to websites, other social media sites, and organizations you feel advance your brand story
 
Ø  Evidence of a focused connecting strategy
 
Ø  Follow relevant groups
 
Ø  Relevant recommendations and endorsements

To wrap it up, the one word that should guide everything you choose to include in your profile is, "RELEVANCE!" In other words, why should anyone care? To amuse yourself, count the number of times I've used the word in this post. It's relevant!
 
Robyn T. Braley is a branding specialist, writer, speaker and songwriter. He is the President of UniMark Creative which focuses on website design, video production, media services (editorial and advertising), and graphic design. He is also a Rotarian.
Contact him at unimarkcreative.com or through LinkedIn. Follow on Twitter @RobynTBraley

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