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Utilising LinkedIn in your Sales Strategy

I’ve been to quite a few seminars, conferences, events this year that have had social media and specifically LinkedIn as a topic. I had a really interesting conversation with a Linkedin trainer earlier this week and attended a Recruitment Society Event in London last night where it was the main topic. So, that’s what’s prompted this weeks post.

I’ve been utilising it for 4 or 5 years now, but until recently I’d never had to use it for sales. So my policy was that I had always only connected with people that I knew and had actually worked with / trained. This made for a very robust network and when people came to me to introduce them to my connections, or even my connections, connections. It worked… for me.

6 months ago that all changed when I got back into a sales role for APSCo, helping them to increase their membership in the Midlands. I changed my policy and started accepting invites from people that I didn’t know.

A month ago I launched my own business that I’ve had for 10 years, Connemara UK Ltd. I’d never used the name and although I already had quite a robust network (just under the 1,000 connections or so) I decided to set myself a target of an extra 100 connections for the past 4 weeks. I had work booked up until after Easter, so I thought I’d see what LI could do for me… without doing any sales calls. I made sure my profile was up to date and I had recommendations and endorsements for the work that I wanted to focus on this year. I’ve written 18 different induction and engagement programmes for companies, I had lots of written recommendations, but only a couple of endorsements… so I asked for more.

I’m on week 4 of my experiment, it’s only Wednesday, but I can already write this post as I’m only 1 person off of my 400 hundred target. Amazing, especially as this week, I haven’t had to search for any connections… it’s all been organic from the work I’d been doing in the first 3 weeks.

So how easy is it for anyone to increase their network like this, what was my strategy and what results did it bring?

Top 10 tips

1. Basic and logical, but not actually something that I’d done in the past, so I wonder how many others haven’t really utilised LI. I did an advanced search on MD (Title) Recruitment (Key word) 50 mile radius of my home town. With 2,236 results, it was certainly a great place to start, with nearly half either only 1 connection away or in a group that I belong to.

2. I went to the groups that I belong to and connected with these people. Just one of these groups had 125,000 members and I’m still only connected to 374 from all of my groups, so I’ve got a long way to go, because I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg with 1 group out of 39!!

3. I follow the group rules! I hear annoyance from so many people, including myself, whereby recruiters just fill up the discussion timeline with job postings… it’s not what we want to see or have multiple emails about.

4. I manage a group that is lucky enough to have about 20 people a day joining it. So set up your own group, get people interested and make sure that when you accept them, send them an additional welcome note through a connection request.

5. Send the invites in the evening, with a personalised note starting with “Good evening”. It shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile and put the work in to build your network, but also (and more importantly) it doesn’t get in the way of your sales time – although I’m doing sales calls to Singapore at the moment, so that is middle of the night stuff!!

6. Write or re-post interesting articles and discussions. Put your views and feelings on there. In other words, give a bit of yourself.

7. Comment on other people’s articles. 1 client approached me as they looked at my LI profile after I’d made a comment – what an easy way to get in front of your clients.

8. Make sure you’ve got recommendations and endorsements for the work that you want to do.

9. Be polite. Be courteous. Basic, but also missing in a lot of requests that I get. That also relates to your photo. I actually find some photos offensive! Sometimes it’s just the look on someone’s face that makes me think less favourably of them – maybe it’s because I’m a ‘visual’ type personality.

10. Above all don’t lie! Not a great way to start the relationship. I’m amazed at how many friends I’ve actually got. My initial reaction when I get a request that says someone is my friend is to shout at the laptop “NO, you’re not!!” Delete follows very quickly. LI sent a request for me recently without me being able to add a personal note – I immediately wrote to the person’s email and apologised.

What’s been the impact?

Well the visibility of my profile has certainly changed. I was already in the top 1% of profiles viewed in 2012 (or so LinkedIn told me), but the graph speaks for itself. 30 – 40 views was quite normal per week for me… not now.

Also, you can see the increase of appearances in searches where I started to ‘sell again’ in October, but even with Christmas and New Year, the last 3 months to today has increased by 50%.

So apart from profile, what are the actual business results?

Well, in the last 3 weeks I’ve had 7 companies approach me to utilise my services. 2 of these were companies linked to recruitment that would like me to promote their business and take a % (which I’m considering) and the other 5 wanted Connemara to help them with projects, that they just happened to be organising this month. So my sales calls have actually been 30 minutes+ each time and with clients are already wanting my services – how easy is that? I’ve not had one “No” as yet from these clients.

So in summary, I can understand why everyone raves about LinkedIn for the recruitment industry. What a sales tool… it does all of the leg work for you and you can do it every moment you have some spare time.

P.S. You’ve guessed it… in the time it’s taken me to write this post, I’ve got number 1,400!

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Angela Cripps
Angela Crippshttp://www.connemarauk.com/
ANGELA has 25 years of experience in the recruitment industry and calls herself an industry advocate - anything that raises standards and Angela is likely to have a link to it somewhere. A professional trainer for the past 15 years, her LinkedIn profile shows she currently works for industry bodies. As a select member of our BizProphets "thought leadership" Panel, her expert insights afford industry participants the tools necessary to master the art of recruitment.

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