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I went to speak to my friend and New York master sales trainer, David Leaver of Opus Partners, on this one. (You may have noticed a trend in my last two blogs posts that I am interviewing other experts. This is because I don’t know everything).
David has been at this sales training game for a while and as such is not easily impressed by gimmicks or gadgets that are “all flash and no cash.” So it’s notable that David has taken to LinkedIn like the proverbial mallard. That should tell all you Sales 2.0 doubters that there’s something here – my opinion.
Nigel: David what are the primary ways you use LinkedIn to sell?
David: I have a discipline each day to go into LinkedIn and spend 15-30 minutes there – no more. That’s important as social networking platforms and social media in general can suck you in and burn up all your selling time.
During my 15-30 minutes on LinkedIn each day I address the following things in order:
- My LinkedIn Inbox
- New Connections my 1st degree contacts have made
- New Recommendations my 1st degree contacts have given to people
- Questions I might be able to answer in the groups I belong to
- Who viewed my profile
Nigel: OK that’s very structured. Can we go through each one?
David: sure. So the first one is looking at my LinkedIn Inbox. This is pretty obvious but a good place to start. I check if there are any direct requests in there for my help, new contacts etc. Very basic LinkedIn usage.
The second thing I do is not obvious to most people. I check what new connections my new connections have today. This comes up on your LinkedIn home page if you have your LinkedIn settings set to display this (the default setting will show this).
The reason I look at this is that when one of the people I know makes a new connection with someone their relationship is quite active. It’s a great time for me to request an introduction to that new person too. It’s most likely my direct connection and the new 2nd degree connection have been talking or emailing and they feel a certain level of connectivity at this time. Because of this it’s more likely than normal that my request to connect will be accepted.
Nigel: OK that’s not something I’d though of. What about new recommendations? What’s that about?
David: Nigel it’s a similar principle. When one of my direct (1st degree connections) gives a recommendation to someone – or someone gives a recommendation to them – it signals to me that their relationship is strong. Hence it gives me a good clue that I can ask for an introduction to that person I don’t yet know. A recommendation is usually only given when people know each other well.
Nigel: Right, got it. Not obvious stuff from just looking at LinkedIn. And item #4 groups. What do you do there?
David: I belong to several LinkedIn groups that are sales-related and also to groups that my customers/prospects belong to. What I do is look for questions that I can answer in those groups. I make sure I only answer questions when I can really add value. It’s a great way to start a conversation. Of course, if the person I’m talking to is a potential client or partner I will try to move the conversation offline so that it becomes “real.” As you know I believe real conversations happen offline on the phone or in-person. Social media platforms like LinkedIn are just good tools for STARTING a relationship.
Nigel: Yup, agree that real relationships get formed offline. And the last one – looking at who viewed your profile?
David: I look at who viewed my profile recently (you need to be on the paid LinkedIn to do this, so it will cost you $24.95 a month). I don’t do this very often but sometimes when I see someone whose profile looks interesting to me I will email them through LinkedIn and say “I see you looked at my profile. Is there anything I can help you with?”
Nigel: OK got it. Some great stuff. I knew about some of those techniques but many of them I would not have though of. Super. Thanks David!