The New LinkedIn For Business: Inbound Marketing Doesn’t Mean Staying Home

The New LinkedIn For Business: Inbound Marketing Doesn’t Mean Staying Home
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An engineering manager who uses LinkedIn at work complained to me about people on the site who annoy him – or to quote him directly – “creep me out.”

“I accept and solicit connections from strangers,” says Joe, who was briefly out of work last year. “But what creeps me out is if I look at their profile, and within minutes they try to connect with me. It’s as if they’re desperate. Sometimes I view profiles that appear on my own profile; sometimes their name rings a bell. But if they immediately contact me, I wonder if this person ever leaves LinkedIn.”

This anecdote illustrates the tricky nature of connecting on the exploding professional networking party known as LinkedIn. I encouraged you in my previous post on LinkedIn for business to add connections often and build your networks aggressively, because that will increase your visibility geometrically on search engines and allow you to find others too.

But you don’t want to be a stalker, either. More later.

Joe used LinkedIn’s now-defunct Answers to get noticed when he was between jobs. Answers may be a casualty of Quora but happily, LI still has several ways to locate people, leads and companies, while inhabiting the middle ground between lurker and stalker.

Should You Invest In LinkedIn?

I asked recruiter and career expert Abby (aka Absolutely Abby) Kohut, rated one of the top 100 influential people online by Fast Company magazine, about LinkedIn for business owners and whether they should pay for LinkedIn.

“As a business owner, definitely,” she said. “It’s an extremely valuable resource.”

Kohut supplied her top four reasons why you’d want to invest in the service: “Number one is Inmail. Two, more introductions. Number three, you can see who’s viewed your profile. That’s extremely helpful. Fourth, many times if you’re not paying, you can’t see the full profiles of people outside your network, only your first and second-degree connections. You won’t see people’s full names either, only ‘Jane R.’”

As a smart marketer, you know that the “inbound marketing” strategy dominates the online world. However, don’t mistake inbound marketing to mean that you don’t initiate contact with people you don’t know.

I was first published as a 19-year-old college student by calling a local music editor and offering to sell him an article I was writing for a journalism class. I remember struggling to keep my voice from shaking on that phone call. That was maybe the second feature article I ever wrote, and I got a check.

But even better, I learned something important about the business world. Get out of your comfort zone, and you’ll be amazed by what can happen.

Using LinkedIn Groups

“You can’t just build it and expect them to come,” says Marjorie Kavanagh, president of Panoramic Resumes, a professional resume writing and job search consulting company based in New Jersey. She stresses participating in relevant Groups with the people you want to influence.

Groups allow you to directly message people whose profiles are closed to non-paying members. You can also share articles in Groups to reach people in your industry.

Another tip: Garnering at least 10 recommendations allows you to join the “Top Recommended Group” and its six subgroups, which provide a “Top Recommended People on LinkedIn” badge you can use in your marketing.

Starting your own Group, a wonderful option for business owners, is simple and free. Don’t use it to blatantly shill for your company though. Use it to create a community. Market your group on your other social media channels. As group manager, you start discussions, share other relevant blogs and respond to member comments. It’s just common courtesy. Group managers can also send out announcements, but don’t overdo it.

“You must share valuable and credible information through your newsfeeds,” Kavanagh says. “If you just read, nobody will know that you’re there. I’ve gotten business just through networking on LinkedIn.”

Take Advantage Of Signal

Another useful feature is Signal, under the News drop-down menu,  which allows you to search status updates for keywords. You can search companies (filtering by size or industry), the networks of your connections, everyone on LinkedIn, geographic regions or industries – whatever you need.

Use the Advanced People Search to find who’s out there who might already be in your network of second-degree connections, whether you’re looking for a vendor, a partner, a client, employer or employee. You can save your searches too. You’ll  pay for more than three search alerts a week, though.

Leverage Your Network

The other way to find interesting connections is to browse your network’s connections.

When you go to one of your connection’s profile pages, you can see their connections. Then use the Get Introduced function to ask your friend to refer you to that person. Often I skip this and just directly write the person a friendly note. If it’s somebody you know well like a relative, let’s say, you can send the generic invite.

Here’s where you want to avoid “creeping out” the Joes on LI. I rarely send the generic connection request without adding something personal about why I wish to connect with the person or providing some context of where we met offline, if we have.

Treat LinkedIn networking like any other networking by looking for common ground. You don’t approach strangers at a networking event and immediately ask, “Will you buy my product/hire me?” You build a professional relationship and see if it’s a good fit.

For example, Kohut says if someone’s name comes up as having viewed your profile, you can send a brief, cordial note, saying, “I notice you were looking at my profile. I just looked at yours and we have x in common. Can we set up a time to talk?”

That makes you look professional and appropriate, which increases your chances that the person will connect with you if you send a request.

Avoid being a stalker or a lurker and you’ll soon have success on LinkedIn.

What LI strategies have or haven’t worked for you? I’d like to hear your feedback on this or my previous post on LinkedIn for business with tips on strengthening your profile.

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Linda Rastelli

Linda Rastelli

Linda Rastelli is an award-winning journalist, scriptwriter, publicist and co-author of "Marketing: Essential techniques and strategies geared toward results" (John Wiley & Sons, 2007). She enjoys helping businesses sharpen and communicate their marketing messages and the challenge of making complex or technical ideas accessible. Journalism taught her to ask the right questions and to get to the point, scriptwriting taught her to think visually, and writing books taught her patience (but not quickly enough).
Linda Rastelli
  • http://twitter.com/SylvianeNuccio Sylviane Nuccio

    Hi Linda,

    This is another great tutorial about Linkedin. I think I’ve learned more about Linkedin on this blog than any other, and it makes me want to actually use it now.

    I don’t know why, for some reasons I have not much of an attraction to this social media, but I know that I have to start investing some time in it.

    Thank you for making me want to :)

    • linda rastelli

      You’re welcome, Sylviane. I think the people at LI are finally catching on that we are interested and we will use it–if it meets our needs. I see more and more people building their networks and improving their profiles.

  • clarestweets

    I used LI alot and was totally unaware of Signal. Will check it out. Great post.

    • linda rastelli

      Thanks, Clare. Signal is good for researching trends and what people are talking about. Hope you get some value out of it.

  • http://twitter.com/AdrienneSmith40 Adrienne Smith

    Hi Linda,

    Good to see you back here at Carol’s place. Another great post on LinkedIn, a community that I still can’t seem to grasp. Okay, I know they’re more professional over there and not as social. I’m such a social butterfly that it’s hard for me to reach out to people and the totally ignore me.

    I’ve also joined some groups and of course I’m more into blogging and helping bloggers. Unfortunately I’ve found those types of groups still spam a lot and never stop by your place no matter how many times you stop by theirs. I mean we are suppose to help get ourselves noticed right!

    I know it’s a great platform but I think I’ll stick with Google+, Facebook and Twitter where I make the most contacts. Obviously it’s not for everyone right!

    I appreciate the lesson though, I can always learn more.

    ~Adrienne

    • linda rastelli

      You got it; it’s not for everyone. It’s impossible to be on every social media platform so you need to be selective. Glad you found the ones that work for you.

  • http://www.donnamerrilltribe.com/ Donna Merrill

    Hi Linda,
    I just love reading about the latest on LinkedIn. I used to use it so much, but have neglecting it for some months now. Thanks for that little “push” to remind me I need to get over there.

    For me, this platform worked great because many of my clients are on it and it reminds them that I’m alive and well so they give me a call and set up an appointment. Many of them marvel of how active I am because they see what I’m doing on other social networks linked there.
    It is all about leveraging when on this platform otherwise you end up getting people who are trying to sell you something all the time. I’ve learned that the hard way. he he
    I like this platform because you do have to know someone and be “accepted” thereby, less spam. Unless….you are accepting everyone you don’t even know.
    Then comes the bombardment of the spammers.
    After cleaning up some followers, LinkedIn does work well for me.

    Many Thanks,
    Donna

    • linda rastelli

      Donna, you raise an important point about spammers. It IS tricky to decide who to connect with at times. I feel better about connecting if the person’s in one of my groups or shares connections with other people I know.

  • Sadie-Michaela Harris

    Thanks for taking the time to give these tips LinkedIN I think many business professionals are unaware of just how needful the platform can be to themselves and their business. I was fortunate enough a few years back to be told about an expert called Lewes Howes whose knowledge really helped me with LinkedIn. As with all platforms things change quickly I could probably do with a bit of a refresher!

    • linda rastelli

      Seems like just when you’re got it down, there’s something new, right?

  • http://twitter.com/BarbaraCharles Barbara Charles

    This is great info. Most people do not know how to use LinkedIn effectively. Your info will help greatly.

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      I admit to being one of those people, Barbara. I use it sporadically but have been working on it!

  • http://www.inboundmarketlink.com Inbound Market Link

    Hi Linda, this is a great post chock full of detail. I wrote a brief article on our blog that might contribute to this topic too:

    http://www.inboundmarketlink.com/blog-0/bid/73219/6-LinkedIn-Marketing-Strategies-to-Use-Right-Now

    Indeed the Signal feature is worth its weight in gold!

    Keep up the good work, Peter.

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Hi Peter, thanks for sharing your post – I think there are still a whole lot of people who can really do with some basic training and learning the fundamentals. LinkedIn has a lot of potential but you have to start somewhere first!