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  • LinkedIn: Learn Eight Ways to Generate More Sales Leads for Canadian Small Business Owners.

    July 26, 2013

    LinkedIn: Learn eight ways to generate more sales leads for Canadian small business owners.

    LinkedIn is THE social networking site for business people.

    By Maureen McCabe

    Growing up, my mom maintained that you couldn’t have too many friends, my dad believed that you couldn’t have too many business acquaintances (the word ‘networking’ wasn’t in existence yet) and my sister repeatedly told me that unless I was networking, I couldn’t grow my business to generate more profits.

    As a marketing consultant, I say if you have time for only one social media site – if you are business-to-business, LinkedIn is the smartest and most powerful option. It is a professional arena for professional connections. Networking is not entirely new to us; however, using the web and social media to connect is what has transformed how we network.

    TIP: If your business is primarily consumer based, you need to know if your consumers use LinkedIn before you prioritize this site.

    Social networking is no longer just “social”. LinkedIn focuses on interactions and relationships of a business nature versus personal or non-business related. Why should you have a profile? Their slogan says it all – relationships matter. Utilize your knowledge, experience, and personality to cultivate value-driven relationships because it is these connections that will invite interest and create opportunities for your small business.

    Gee whiz facts:

    • Over 225 million LinkedIn users in more than 200 countries.
    • Approximately 90% of the members are business professionals; only 10% are students and recent graduates.
    • Three new members join every second.
    • Over 11 million Canadians and 74 million Americans have a profile. Source: LinkedIn January 2013.

    Social networking has been slower to gain traction with Toronto and Canadian small businesses. Typically there is a distrust of time versus measurable benefits. The following eight powerful statistics from Portrait of a LinkedIn User: 2013 Edition are based on Power Formula’s research. The following should alleviate business owners’ confidence when signing up for a LinkedIn personal profile and/or company page.

    1. Generate identifiable business opportunities: 28%
    2. Build new relationships with potential customers: 39%
    3. Build new networking relationships with individuals who may influence customers: 45%
    4. Increase your face-to-face networking effectiveness: 41%
    5. Increase branding and marketing in the market places: 36%
    6. Research people and companies: 76%
    7. Reconnect with past business associates/colleagues: 71%
    8. Help uncover potential job opportunities: 36%

    The following is a LinkedIn primer:

    Connection: Business equivalent to a Facebook friend. Members are business people who want to build their network, drive more sales leads, and share and learn with other professionals. In order to derive maximum benefit from this platform, you have to use it strategically to help you make those qualified connections.

    Recommendation: Testimonials from customers, colleagues, suppliers, business partners.

    Member profile: Individual profile (Think of it as your 6-page life-long resume: include an overview of your current position, career summary, positions held, education, significant accomplishments, volunteerism etc. Provide status updates to keep your connections up to date. Don’t forget to link to your company profile.

    Company profile: Summarize your company offerings, promote your products and services, obtain recommendations, and recruit employees. Above all share on a regular basis important, interesting, and useful updates to be top-of-mind with your followers!

    Group: Join local, national, global associations and industry-based groups of like-minded professionals. Engage in discussions, post jobs, and make connections to generate more sales leads. Maximize each group for business development and to help you generate more profits for your small business.

    TIP 1: Get educated

    • Google the word “LinkedIn” and watch current videos.
    • Use the help on LinkedIn which is actually ‘helpful’.
    • Read the questions and answers and post a question on LinkedIn’s forum. This is the best forum that I have ever seen – imagine questions that are answered in a timely fashion!
    • Power Formula’s website is a great resource for training and understanding how to leverage both your LinkedIn profile and company page.

    TIP 2: Sign-up for a basic (free) LinkedIn profile

    Until you are leveraging LinkedIn’s full value, hold off on committing to the monthly service. NOTE: Only 15% of members subscribe to a premium plan which ranges from $21-$76 monthly. When I see the need to subscribe to a monthly plan, I will let you know.

    The bottom-line

    Contacts on LinkedIn are ‘the low hanging fruit’ i.e. without too much effort; you have immediate access to potential customers. Build your LinkedIn connections and then leverage those relationships. Request to be introduced to their connections and generate more sales leads.

    To learn more about marketing ideas and how I may support you in your growth and success and/or to connect with me, follow me (Maureen McCabe, a leading small business marketing consultant) on my LinkedIn personal profile.

    If you have any questions, please let me know how we can help you today.

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