Many people consider themselves savvy at using Facebook or WhatsApp, but how many are truly skilled at using a platform like LinkedIn with the express purpose of supporting business growth?
Since I started using LinkedIn to grow my professional network, several people have told me they “tried it, but didn’t have any luck.” Whether you’re nurturing prospects online or in person, the sales funnel is a process that takes time, and you need to leverage the right tools. There’s one item in the toolbox that doesn’t change, though—you.
In the first blog post, we talked about how social selling is about developing meaningful relationships with potential customers using social media. In this second post on social selling, my goal is to get people started on their own minimum viable product on social media. In this case, the product is your LinkedIn profile.
Tailor Your Profile to the Right Audience
At its core, LinkedIn is a platform. They describe themselves as the world's largest professional network on the internet, and there are many things you can do with a LinkedIn account. In my own experience, you need to focus, and you need to follow some expert advice. In a recent conversation I had with Rebecca Mayville, Director of Social Programs at Mercer MacKay Digital Storytelling, she explained it this way:
“To be effective on LinkedIn, two things matter: identifying your goals, then presenting yourself in a way that aligns with those goals. If someone hasn’t had success connecting with people they want to know, their profile probably doesn’t demonstrate how they’re relevant to those people.”
Mayville pointed out one of the key traps people fall into when they try using LinkedIn for social selling: If you signed up for LinkedIn to help you find a job, your profile was likely designed to catch the interest of hiring managers, not sales prospects.
“If your intention is to use LinkedIn as a tool for social selling, you need to show up as someone customers would want to do business with, which is different than how you would approach a prospective employer,” she explained.
If you’re in sales, you already have strategies for introducing yourself outside of social media, even if they’re second nature to you. You need to translate those strategies online.
Make It Easy for People to See Your Relevance
As Mayville described, your LinkedIn profile is your first virtual impression, and you want to make a good one. “When someone clicks on your name, they should immediately see how you’re relevant to their business. If you don’t make it easy, they’ll just move on.”
So if the sales funnel is all about how we help people address about their business challenges, how should you describe yourself on LinkedIn? Obviously, you still need to be “you” and you need to be truthful. Someone who already knows you should see the “real” you on LinkedIn, but you can be purposeful about it.
“Don’t just tell people what you do—show them what makes you excel at it. What expertise and experience do you bring to the table, and how have you applied that to help other people?” Mayville suggests.
Put another way, your profile doesn’t need to be a complete autobiography, but it needs to be authentic and relevant, because those are the kinds of people customers want to work with.
“People still want to do business with other human beings. Our team at Mercer MacKay encourages people to find a balance that supports their goals—focus on your professional contributions, but with enough personality that people will genuinely want to connect with you on a human level.”
Update Three Key Elements of Your Profile
So how exactly do you do this? Mayville recommends focusing on three key elements of your LinkedIn profile to make sure you’re presenting the sales rep you are in person. She says it best, so here’s her advice:
“Your profile picture: Use a professional or high-quality headshot that’s clear enough that people can use it to recognize you in a crowd.
Your LinkedIn headline: Your headline does not need to be your job title. If fact, we often recommend not using it, especially if your title doesn’t explain what you actually do. Your headline should make your target network want to keep reading your profile.
Your About section: The most important thing here is to tell a story that speaks to the people you want to meet. Don’t just list your job responsibilities. Explain what makes you the best person to help someone solve their business problems.
Together, these elements present you as someone who’s competent, approachable, and most of all—relevant.”
In my own words, following Mayville’s advice creates your Minimum Viable Profile. There is plenty more you can do, which we will cover in the next post, but these steps put you in the best position to start making an impact online now. Why not get started? For more resources, check out the page dedicated to all of our social selling resources on the Partner Hub.