Linkedin is undoubtedly the best platform for B2B prospecting. Yet most people fail to learn how to harness its power. Instead, they turn up sporadically, then claim that “Linkedin doesn’t work for our business!” as a result. The truth is, aside from the odd outlier or moment of luck, success on Linkedin is a long game. Maybe as long as 2 years or more!

So, how can you improve your chances of success? Firstly, you need to be less passive. Secondly, you need to follow the approach outlined below. It’s what we do for our own agency, and for clients. We call it ‘The Linkedin A-to-E’, and it goes a little something like this…

A is for ATTRACT: Optimise your profile – most people’s Linkedin profiles represent online CV’s only. You need to turn your profile into a client-attracting front window that’s focused on calling out your client’s problems, not your services! A simple way to do this is to remove references to your ‘responsibilities’, and replace them with statements about the outcomes that you have achieved for your clients. People want outcomes over activities.

B is for BUILD: Build your audience. Put simply, connect to people. But before you go connecting to every Tom, Dick and Harry, you need to work out exactly who it is you want to connect to in the first place (i.e. your target audience). The way we do this for clients is to begin with target industries, then specific role holders within those industries. We kick-off with a list of 1,000 people that we aim to connect to. Linkedin Sales Navigator is essential for this. Be prepared for long-term connection acceptance rates of 1 in 3 on average regardless of industry. Of course, there will always be outliers, but it’s better to find yourself exceeding your expectations!

C is for CREATE: Entertain and educate your audience by creating content. I recommend posting once a day on personal profiles, and 2-3 times a week on a company page. What should you post about? Start with the problems and opportunities faced by your target clients. Support this with educational information on how to overcome those challenges. Mix in with this some examples of client successes, and your own journey in whatever role you play in your agency. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable with your posts! Be daring! Be bold! Be controversial! Most importantly, be prepared to repel those people who you don’t want as clients. You do this by simply having opinions and not being afraid to share them. If it feels uncomfortable to make your post, it’s probably about right!

D is for DRIVE: You need to drive engagement in your content. Don’t stand by passively waiting for engagement, Go and get it! Use hashtags, use team-purple on the Agency Collective Slack channel, tag people, etc. Share links to your posts elsewhere. Ultimately, invite people to engage in your content. And always, always reply to comments. Also, we have a concept at The B2B Marketer to: ‘Never take people to a dead-end’. What I mean by that is that you should always be thinking about what happens next for the reader? For a Linkedin post, that typically means finishing with a question to invite engagement. But it could also mean providing a link for them to go and visit, or a video to watch, etc. Whatever it is, the conversation must not end at your post!

E is for EXIT: No-one made a sale on Linkedin alone ever! You need to get people off of Linkedin. The old connect-pitch approach doesn’t work. I prefer to use things such as inviting people to webinars, sending them links to relevant blog articles, infographics, and lead magnets (where there will be other calls-to-action contained within them – remember, never take people to a dead-end!). I’ll then follow up a few days later with another offer of content or a suggestion of a call.

Also – don’t use automation tools! Not only are they against LinkedIn’s T&Cs, but you can spot automated and painfully salesy connections a mile off. (As a tip on how to spot the bots, I use my middle initial at the end of my first name on LinkedIn – when people then use automation they address me as ‘Martin J’ which instantly identifies those who are using automated tools).

Now, if this all seems like too much effort, you can of course outsource some of it. If you are considering that as an approach, here’s what you need to consider:

  1. Will they do it without tools?
  2. How much support will they give you on content, or will they just simply connect-pitch? (incidentally we use ContentCal – which is a great tool – to collaborate on posts with clients)
  3. Where are they based? – if they’re overseas will they work in the UK time zone?
  4. How will they determine who to send connections to?
  5. What process do they have to handover connections to you when there’s engagement?
  6. How will they help you to use Linkedin to promote other content that you may have?

This article was written by Agency Collective member Martin Williams, Founder & Director of The B2B Marketer – a marketing agency that provides effective marketing in a digital worled  for B2B professional services firms.

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