I think we can all agree that LinkedIn is not like other social media networks. Twitter is seemingly open to everyone, and Facebook Pages and Groups are much easier to follow and engage with than LinkedIn’s personal profiles, company pages and even some groups (which used to be really easy to join, but now you have to be invited and accepted.)
So yes, when it comes to communicating, in some ways LinkedIn is a lot more closed. This is partly because LinkedIn is smaller than say Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter; partly because of its professional environment; and partly because LinkedIn makes an effort to protect its members’ privacy (unless, of course, you’re willing to pay for InMail.)
But if you’re on LinkedIn, it’s likely you are there for business and actual networking — and that can sometimes make LinkedIn a difficult platform to engage in. People are either not professional enough or too sales-y. On LinkedIn you’re engaging with professionals with certain expectations. You must work within those expectations!
Here are a few things to keep in mind for creating content and communicating on LinkedIn:
Know your audience
Have a clear idea of the people with whom you engage on LinkedIn. If you try to “help anyone with a face” or “anyone with a computer,” then you won’t be helping anyone at all. It’s important to know your niche.
Furthermore, you have to know your place within that niche as well as your niche clients. The more specific you can be, the more you can engage with them in their voice, addressing their needs, wants, and points of pain with your solutions. Make sure you understand your target audience and that you’re communicating in a language they understand.
Use an authentic and consistent voice
Most people can spot a scammer. The moment they think you’re lying to them, trying to game or manipulate them, you’ll lose their trust (and their attention.) Just be authentic when communicating on LinkedIn, and try to be consistent with your tone and voice. If you keep switching things up, people won’t know what to expect and may not develop a real attachment to you, your messages or your content.
It can be difficult to develop a consistent voice, especially if you have multiple content creators. Sit your team down and talk with them periodically to make sure everyone’s on message. Oversee content at the conceptual level to make sure that any problems in authenticity and tone are handled from the top down.
Sharing, commenting and liking are free game
While you have to know someone (or pay LinkedIn) to message them, you can share, comment or like any updates or posts that your prospect shares on LinkedIn. So once you’ve found a good prospect, save them (by saving their LinkedIn URL, or using a tool like Dux-Soup or Nimble to tag and save them) so that you can view and engage with their content on a regular basis. Limit this kind of interaction to just a few times a week: any more than that could give the wrong impression!
You prospects will be notified when you engage with their content, and that will build name awareness — so when you do invite them to connect (or send them an InMail), they are more likely to accept and respond.
Alternatively, LinkedIn Sales Navigator makes it very easy to save leads and view their content, shares and news mentions, but it’s a hefty investment for most people at $79 a month.
Customize your invitations
When the time comes to send an invite to connect, remember to customize your invitation. You must go to the person’s profile and click on Connect in order to access the customized invitation feature. Always let someone know why you want to connect, and mention some commonalities (people you’re both connected with, companies and Influencers you both follow – you can see this all on their home page.) If you want to customize the invitation from the mobile app, then click on the three dots on the top right of their profile. For example:
Sending an invitation to someone you know:
So great to find you on LinkedIn! How are you? What are you up to? Let’s connect!
(LinkedIn will not allow you to add an email address or web address to an invitation.)
Sending an invitation to someone you don’t know:
You might have seen me recently engaging with some of your content. LinkedIn keeps saying you are someone I should know — and, having looked at your profile and social shares, I have to agree. Even though we don’t know each other (yet), I saw that we have [something] in common. I’m hoping you’ll accept my invitation!
I recently started using LinkedIn more actively and it keeps suggesting you as someone I should know. Having reviewed your profile, I see that we actually have a lot in common, including [share people and similarities from LinkedIn]. I thought you might be a great connection. I’m hoping you’re willing to accept my invitation!
If you feel you’ve received this invitation in error or simply don’t want to connect, please just ignore this — and best regards for the future.
When engaging for the first time, buy them a drink!
Okay, you don’t literally have to buy them a drink first, but don’t go straight in for the kill either. Try to learn more about your prospect, try to be of value to them before you ask them to buy your stuff, and don’t use invitations or messages to shame-sell them. “Your profile sucks and I can help” is not a great way to start a business relationship. Here are some better examples:
Sending a message to someone you don’t know:
I was recently visiting my Contacts page on LinkedIn, and came across your profile. I realized we don’t know each other very well, but I was interested to learn [something from profile] in your profile.
Please let me know how I can be of service to you. For instance, is there anyone in my network I can introduce you to? Any Skills you would like to be endorsed for? Just let me know!
If you ever need any [description of service], please let me know. Here’s my calendar; pick a time that works for you. [Calendar links]
Wishing you success in all you do,
[Company Email Address]
Sending a message to someone you know (but are out of touch with):
I realized it’s been a long time since we connected. I found your name when I was looking through my LinkedIn contacts and thought I’d reach out and see how you’re doing.
Please let me know how I can be of service to you. Is there anyone in my network I can introduce you to? Any skills you would like to be endorsed for? I’m focusing on [product or service] right now, so if you — or anyone you know — has a need for [description of service]. please let me know. Here’s my calendar; pick a time that works for you. [Calendar links]
Wishing you success in all you do,
When creating content, tug at the heartstrings
Just because it’s in a professional setting doesn’t mean you can’t tug at the heartstrings when creating content like Publisher Posts or even updates. In fact, it might be more effective in an environment as sterile as LinkedIn. Most people can’t ignore things that affect them emotionally. But it’s a fine line between gaming people’s emotions and engaging them emotionally with your content — so keep it real! Keep it professional, too: we all know that singing cat videos and card-playing dogs are cute, but they don’t belong on LinkedIn.
Engage using LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn allows you to create or join groups of any kind. This gives you the opportunity to network and discover new contacts within your industry or field of expertise. Many existing LinkedIn Groups have thousands of active users, which means that you have instant access to a wide range of like-minded people. Alternatively, you can start your own group and choose a topic for the discussions (again, keep it professional.)
LinkedIn can be an extremely useful platform for marketing small businesses and making new contacts in your industry. It provides a more professional environment than most other social media platforms, which enables you to reach a different audience than you will find on Facebook and Twitter. Setting up your company page, posting regular status updates, asking for recommendations and getting involved with LinkedIn Groups forms the foundation for successful communication on LinkedIn.
So wrapping up:
- Keep it real
- Be professional
- Don’t be gross
- Don’t be a stalker
- Create engaging content
- Be consistent
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