Social Media and B2B – LinkedIn

In a previous blog, Social Media and B2B – Let’s Get Started, I listed the three key benefits of social media as:

  1. Brand
  2. Relationships
  3. Information

Today, I continue this series on Social Media and B2B and specifically discuss LinkedIn.

Why LinkedIn?

The benefits of LinkedIn are as follows:

  1. Brand
    1. Increase visibility to build the brand
    2. Personalize and humanize your company and brand
  2. Relationships
    1. Facilitate relationships by knowing more about the people and companies you meet and do business with
    2. Enhance your credibility with key customers and stakeholders
    3. Gain referrals and access to people you don’t know and may want to know
  3. Information
    1. Share information that shows your customers and potential customers that you know what you are talking about and understand and care about their needs
    2. Better utilize the collective learning and experience of your team
    3. Learn from others; post questions on tricky issues and get the help and feedback from others who may have already faced the issue

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is the social media site for business. With more than 80 million users and growing fast, LinkedIn is fast becoming a vital part of doing business today.

What to Do on LinkedIn?

There are so many things that your company and key employees can be doing on LinkedIn that I will limit myself to just ten suggestions to get you started. I would be very interested to hear others that I may have overlooked. Please share.

  1. Create a company LinkedIn profile emphasizing your brand. Link your blogs, website and Twitter account through that profile and make sure that they are visible to people who are following your company on LinkedIn.
  2. Post job openings in your company on LinkedIn
  3. Follow key customer companies on LinkedIn
  4. Have your key employees post their profile (with a picture) on LinkedIn and actively expand their connections
  5. Use LinkedIn to expand your company’s network
    1. Use your and your employee’s connections to get second and third level connections to network with customers and other people that you want to know so that you do not have to cold call on them
  6. Before any meeting with a potential customer or stakeholder, have your management and/or sales team read the profile of the key individuals so that they are better prepared and know the individuals’ background. This lets you find a proper sales approach and possible personal areas of commonality, better facilitating relationships.
    1. Anecdote: A high- powered salesperson recently asked me for a meeting to sell me something. Since it was a referral from someone I knew well, I agreed to a 45 minute meeting. During the course of the meeting, it became clear that the salesperson (who was selling something that I actually might have bought) had no idea about me and about my background. He had just not done any homework. With that, I was actually offended. My unspoken thought: how could you not prepare for a sophisticated sale without at least reading my LinkedIn profile to know something about me? As you might expect, this “high – powered salesperson” left our 45 minute meeting empty – handed.
  7. Read the profiles of your employees to learn more about their background. Some companies have easily accessible internal databases of employee competencies and backgrounds, but most don’t. So, if you don’t, use LinkedIn.
    1. I know of more than one occasion when a senior manager was looking externally for a person with a specific experience. Through using LinkedIn, he found out that such a person already existed within his company. No one within the current company had known that that person had the specific experience while working for a previous employer.
  8. Find out about potential employees. One of the key challenges in business is finding a replacement for someone in a specific and critical role that is only a “C” player. Use LinkedIn to search for people who can fill those roles, giving you a possible alternative and thus a lot more flexibility to upgrade your team.
  9. Join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your customers. When in the groups, have key individuals answer intelligently and informatively questions posed by potential customers in that group. This develops a relationship and gives credence to your company being a knowledge leader in solving customer’s problems in that specific market space.
  10. Have top management join senior executive LinkedIn Groups and, where necessary, pose questions related to tricky issues that they may be facing. You are likely to get dozens of insightful comments from people who have already faced and surmounted the same issues.

 

A Downside to LinkedIn?

I can hear you saying. But, if I allow my employees to be active on LinkedIn they will just spend time job hunting and will be visible to competitors and others that want to poach them.

Yes, that is a risk. But, first, a reality check. Your best employees are going to be on LinkedIn and visible whether you want them there or not as LinkedIn is such an important part of their personal career management. You might as well get the benefit of their efforts and connections on LinkedIn to help your business succeed.

Conclusion

Active participation on LinkedIn does have some risks for your company. But, this potential downside is far outweighed by the upside of using LinkedIn to build your brand, further relationships, and gain and share information.

Next Time, we will discuss Twitter.

Until Then.

Advertisements

About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Sales and Marketing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Social Media and B2B – LinkedIn

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review | David Shedd's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s