When leveraged properly, social media can be a formidable tool for making useful business connections. Yet understanding how and where to make such connections can be challenging.
1. Sign up for the right LinkedIn business group
Finding and joining a group full of potential clients is the first step to producing sales leads from LinkedIn Groups. Decide who your ideal customer or audience is for that. When you know who you want your product to be marketed and sold to, find a group that caters for that audience.
Popular LinkedIn groups include the Executive Suite, Band of Entrepreneurs, and Social Media Advertising for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Read carefully the description of the group to see if it suits your company, your goals, and that the people posting in it contribute valuable content, rather than joining as many groups as possible.
“Spend some real time going through the groups and talking about who’s really suited for what you’re doing,” said Catalyst Marketing Agency’s sales and marketing manager Oliver Roddy. “A scatter-gun approach won’t work and people will feel a sales approach miles off, so just be real.”
After you join a group, you can filter members ‘ search based on location, job title, and industry to identify your ideal prospective links.
Avoid sending random requests for connections to anyone in the community — this is seen as salesy, and can alienate a number of potential connections. Instead, take the time to see who’s in the community and who can be of greatest value to you and your company, then submit a thoughtful invitation.
2. Gain trust, build relationships and portray yourself as a leader in the industry.
LinkedIn Groups are a great way to promote your business, generate sales leads and create your online community. You can build yourself as an industry leader and expert by applying it correctly. It helps drive traffic to your LinkedIn profile and to the page of your company as well as strengthen the credibility of your business in your market.
It is important not to become pushy by just sharing advertising for your company. Rather, share information that is important to the group’s members, and answer questions. Doing that drives views of profiles and requests for inbound connections.
You want to be a giver and share relevant information that will help those within the community to expand, build a company and become more successful at what they are doing. Do not post ads or actively question community members -get to know them first, generate a survey and only recognize those potentially interested in your goods and services.
Most LinkedIn groups have strict rules about advertising so self-promotion, and doing so might get you disqualified. Focus on creating positive, mutually beneficial posts that will inform others within the community about what you are doing and what you are searching for.
Each of your community posts will encourage interaction by asking a question, sharing a personal story or seeking input from you. If you’re confused about what types of posts the group culture usually includes, spend some time watching the group after you join.
Pay attention to who posts the most often and what kinds of posts get the most response, and why. Take note of how many shares and reviews they get and then adapt the practices for your own company if their article is read by other group members.
With a lot of facts or personal experience, it is a good idea to have detailed, well-researched, and well-reasoned answers, he said. One-liners won’t be enough. The time you put in to answer those questions tends to turn into real relationships.
3. Link with potential customers and connect.
Ask them to connect until you engage with people in the LinkedIn Community, and create relationships. Because you are in the same group, you become a relation of second level with everybody in the party, which makes it easier.
“Sending an invitation from LinkedIn is an art” Siddiqui said. It needs to be tailored and succinct. Always start with a personal phrase and explain why you want to communicate with it, [then] describe the value you [could] offer it as a connection.
Once you build a link, you can communicate directly with them via LinkedIn Messaging and share ideas, support growth strategy and educate them about your product and services, Corbett said. This is the time to learn about their desires and points of pain, too.
When the time is right, set up a call or meeting… see if there is a possibility for a deal or a partnership with a source of referral or just a friend.
Above all, LinkedIn is a social platform designed to help people communicate on a meaningful level among which generating sales leads is prominent.
Look to your participation as a mutually beneficial relationship in LinkedIn groups. You stand to learn from and be supported by the other members, and they can learn from you and gain your support.