Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman
Aliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

4 Ways to Get Business Leads on LinkedIn

4 Ways to Get Business Leads on LinkedIn

If you own a business, you should have a presence on LinkedIn, both a personal profile as a professional with highlights from your resume and a LinkedIn company page. Both are free to set up, and they provide a more business-oriented showcase for you and your company.

LinkedIn is a great platform for networking, for connecting with vendors, business customers, and strategic partners. LinkedIn can also be useful for generating business leads, first and foremost because people expect to "talk shop." Here are four ways to use LinkedIn features to generate warmer leads to get new clients and customers.

1. Showcase your expertise.

There are several ways to share your knowledge and demonstrate your expertise, something particularly important is you as a consultant but also helpful when you’re selling products and looking to set your company apart from the competition. The two main ways to share information on LinkedIn are posting to your feed and publishing articles.

Posting to the LinkedIn news feed can happen in several ways:

  • Post directly to your LinkedIn profile
  • Post directly to your LinkedIn company page
  • Share other people’s posts from LinkedIn to either your profile or company page

You can use a tool such as Buffer to easily post to and schedule posts to publish on both your LinkedIn profile and page.

Publishing articles on LinkedIn is basically blogging - a long-form type of content that gives you more room to expand on what you know. The LinkedIn articles you post are featured on your LinkedIn profile and shared to the news feed as well. You can also share a link to them any time after they’ve been published. You can also share your LinkedIn articles on your other social networks, driving people to LinkedIn to read them and connect with you.

2. Join and participate in groups.

Another way to showcase your expertise is to join relevant groups within LinkedIn and participate in the conversations in meaningful ways. LinkedIn groups are similar to Facebook Groups where there is a main feed with discussions that you can comment on or start your own.

As with any online group, the group host sets rules and the tone for the conversations. Get a feel for what people are discussing and sharing before jumping in. If you have answers to questions or advice to share, do so in a non-promotional way. By participating and adding value, you’ll get indirect promotion from that. Most groups frown on "commercial" posts where you are pushing your products and services.

Another route you could go on LinkedIn is to start your own group and invite your contacts and followers to join in on discussions. Keep in mind that the group should be oriented around business in some way and should be relevant to what you do or what your company does. For example, if you are a women’s retail boutique, a relevant group might be Women and Retail or Selling to the Female Consumer.

Groups, like any online community, take time to build and even more time to keep conversations going, often requiring far more time than general social media marketing. Check your resources and participate in groups based on the time you have on your hands to engage.

3. Make referrals and give recommendations.

As with traditional networking, making referrals can be a great way to strengthen relationships as well as encourage reciprocity. If you provide someone with a positive LinkedIn recommendation, they may be more inclined to endorse you as well. If you make a referral or introduction to one of your contacts, they may be more willing to do the same for you. The best networking and lead generation on LinkedIn happens when you are careful with your contacts, making sure you have a legitimate connection. Reach out to people you know and have worked with or have a genuine reason why you want to connect. The more random your contacts on LinkedIn, the less valuable your account becomes and the less likely you’ll get valuable referrals and recommendations.

4. Use Lead Gen forms in LinkedIn ads.

LinkedIn offers a feature in their paid advertising tools called Lead Gen Forms. These are forms that automatically fill with a member’s LinkedIn profile data so they can send their contact info easily through the ads you run. You can monitor your ad campaigns’ cost per lead, keep track of how many LinkedIn members fill out your form, and get a breakdown of the professional audience segments you’re reaching with the leads that are generated from your ads. You can then download those leads and upload the contact information into your customer relationship management tool, like Salesforce, to follow up.

As you can see, LinkedIn provides features that encourage networking and lead generation. Knowing how the tools work and being strategic with how you use them can mean more fruitful leads to grow your business.

Read other social media blogs by Aliza Sherman