David Reilly from skills based training company Lets Learn Digital offers his top tips on how to make the most of LinkedIn to build a network of clients.

The key commercial challenge for any start up business is to win new paying clients and also provide credible social proof that you can do what you say you can do.

With over 15 million UK users and 350 million worldwide LinkedIn is the number one platform for developing new business contacts from companies of all sectors and providing credible testimonials of your successes. It takes an initial investment of time to make your strategy function well but once complete it can really propel your business forward.

Here are my main tips towards building your personal profile and developing quality business contacts on LinkedIn.

1) Get your foundations in place

Spend time writing a descriptive and complete profile summary including career history, client recommendations and most important of all a professional headshot.

Your professional profile really matters because if your business development tactics are working then your profile page is the first place new contacts will examine when they connect with you. LinkedIn’s own data shows that users who complete their profile are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities.

2) Upgrade to premium

If you are serious about using LinkedIn for business development as a start-up business then you may want to consider investing in a premium account, Business Plus, at a minimum cost of £426 per year.

Business Plus will give you access to a prospect’s full name, full profiles as well 25 Inmails, which enable you to send direct messages to anyone on LinkedIn. This often guarantees you a response, negative of positive and can be a great tool for contacting a cold prospect and converting them into a potential lead.

3) Use advanced search

Once you have a premium account you can use the advanced search function. This is fantastic for searching for relevant prospects allows several levels of filtering.

Firstly you can search on the relationship you have to that prospect. For example you can filter contacts on LinkedIn who are two and three connections away (that is, contacts of your contacts and their contacts). You’re not directly in contact with these people but you may have mutual connections on LinkedIn.

Other great filters include location search, search by relevant groups, previous company of employment, industry, job title, seniority and when they joined the company. Once you have your prospects you can save the list to work on it at a later date.

4) Use the ‘Who Viewed Your Profile’ tab

A fantastic function of LinkedIn is the ‘who’s viewed your profile’ tab, which gives you real-time clarity on who is watching your profile.

Depending who they are you can drop them a quick, polite follow-up message saying something like: “Dear XXXX, I noticed you have viewed my profile. Need any help?” This strategy has worked for me on several occasions.

In addition, you can view who has viewed your profile as a result of posting relevant content on Pulse, LinkedIn’s publishing platform.

5) Use LinkedIn Groups & Answers

There are numerous conversations going on about start-ups, small businesses, freelancing and contracting in LinkedIn groups. To make this work as a business development strategy, you need to find the relevant groups where your prospects are populated.

You’re limited to 50 groups which you are able to join at one time so these should be joined carefully when prospecting.

6) Use targeted advertising

LinkedIn’s direct advertising options can be used for developing leads. LinkedIn has incredibly accurate targeting, with no algorithmic guesswork.

LinkedIn ads allows you target very specifically, for example by location in city, company, industry, what company they previously worked for and what skills they have been endorsed for.

LinkedIn results may take time so this is a long term play but using the above tactics the social platform can build a solid pipeline of quality business prospects for your business.

 

David Reilly is digital marketing consultant advising clients on the impact of digital technology and linkedin on business and manages a skills based training company called Lets Learn Digital.

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Read our digital guides for small business from Hiscox’s Ronnie Brown here.