LinkedIn has quickly become a must for sales influence. If you are new to LinkedIn and social selling, job number one is to begin growing your tribe. The larger your tribe the more selling influence you gain. According to IDC, 44% of social buyers found potential vendors by looking at shared connections on LinkedIn. And according to the same study, if you are conducting a “C” level sale, 84% of VP and higher purchasers use shared connections in their purchasing decision. In a nutshell, you can garner more sales influence if they view you as belonging to their “tribe”.
How do you get more C-level purchasers to be part of your tribe and to regard you as somebody they want to buy from? The best advice I can give is to increase the size and quality of your LinkedIn connections. You should aim to get as many 1st level connections as possible: The magic number people look for on your LinkedIn profile is “500+”. This number shows that your social tribe is thriving. Sales influence is not just with your 1st level connections. Through them, you will gain selling power with 2nd level connections as well. Purchasers that are a 2nd level connection will look to their 1st level connections to determine if you are worth talking to and potentially doing business with.
Here are 5 ways you can increase both your 1st and 2nd level connections on LinkedIn to grow your social tribe and social selling prowess:
1. Connect with everybody you currently do business with
LinkedIn actually makes this easy to do. When you add a new connection LinkedIn prompts you to get more connections by going through your email contacts. The prompt looks something like this:
This is the easiest way to get a large number of first level contacts, but you aren’t finished yet. The trick is to continually add connections as detailed below.
2. Turn business cards into LinkedIn connections
Conferences and tradeshows are great for collecting business cards of potential partners and customers. It is common practice to upload these contacts into a company CRM and marketing list. It is good practice to reach out to each and every contact you make at a conference or an event on LinkedIn to request them as a connection. Here is what it looks like:
It is really important that you only invite people you know. For starters, you want your social tribe to be relevant and meaningful. Secondly, LinkedIn will block you from making connection requests if you abuse the privilege. I know people this has happened to, don’t be on that list. You want to build a powerful social tribe, not be excluded from it.
3. Follow Influencers
When you are looking at profile views it is good practice to see if there are people you can “Follow” to get additional visibility. LinkedIn makes it quite easy to do this:
4. Share good content to increase followers
One thing I recommend more than anything else to increase your social tribe is to produce content that people find useful. Don’t just use a traditional blog. Blogs are great, but you should be open to multiple channels for getting your valuable message out. Make sure to use LinkedIn Pulse as well as it can introduce your content to a lot more connections. The content you should produce should ideally help somebody to further their own business interests if they choose to use your products and services or not. Social selling is about influence, not product pitches.
Why produce good and helpful content? If you help people to improve their own business odds they will come back to your profile for more golden nuggets. And every now and then they will contact you directly for your expertise and services. This translates to sales, often directly, and frequently by subconscious influence. I make sure people know that I work forPrint Audit but I save the direct selling of our particular offerings for when one of my connections asks me for help. Trust me, it works like magic.
LinkedIn makes it easy to track your statistics around your content. I can see how many people read my content, how many people “liked” my content, how many people “commented” on my content, and how many people “shared” my content. Here is what that looks like for a Pulse article I produced around paper alternatives:
I can get even richer intelligence on which parts of my social tribe find the content useful. As you can see from the stats below, this particular article, on the surface, was most appealing to sales people in the information technology vertical at 17%. But a closer look reveals that the combined interest of decision makers (Business owners, founders, CEOs) was actually a combined 21%. Good stats if I’m trying to influence C-level buyers.
5. Engage in conversations & check your ranking often
LinkedIn makes it easy for you to see how much influence you are having on a weekly basis. Simply by checking who has viewed your profile you can get a world of good information. Here are my LinkedIn profile views from April through June of 2015:
You can see that in the first week of June my profile views went up by 58% from the week prior and that was likely due to the amount of activity I engaged in for that week.
I also want to know how I rank compared to others in my field. I can do that by clicking “How you rank for profile views”:
This is important because it lets me know that my influence for the week is top of the pile. It means that potential buyers have viewed my profile more than anybody else in my field. The only reason people check your profile is if they are interested in learning more about what you do and have to offer.
By following these 5 tips, you will be certain to grow your social tribe and improve your social selling results. Now it’s your turn: Scroll down to the comment section and let us know some of the things you do to grow your social tribe. What works well and what things have backfired? We look forward to hearing your voice in the conversation!