You’re using LinkedIn wrong.
I mean that in as non-judgmental a way as I possibly can. I’ve used LinkedIn wrong in the past, and I’ve probably made much bigger mistakes than you ever have. But over the last two years I’ve learned a thing or two and worked out a framework for how to generate leads and sales on LinkedIn.
More than half of my new leads first approach me through LinkedIn messaging, and that’s not an accident. I’ve put in the time to figure out how LinkedIn works. I’ve developed a lead-generation system that gets the results I want.
And I’m prepared to let you know how it works. To start out, I’ll let you know about the mistakes I’ve made in the past. Because that’s how I’ve really learned how to do this. I started out without the faintest clue of what I was doing, but gradually I identified and eliminated my mistakes.
You can do the same thing. You don’t have to use LinkedIn in a hit-and-miss way. You can turn it into a reliable process for generating leads that mature into sales. And if you start out by eliminating these ten mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to mastering that process yourself.
So without further ado, let’s get to work on those mistakes:
- You Don’t Have Measurable Goals
It’s important to understand that when you’re selling on LinkedIn, you’re setting up a marketing funnel, just like you’d do with your website.
When you set up your website, did you expect it to generate leads for you just by being there? No, of course not. You took care of SEO. You put systems in place for generating traffic. You made sure the website copy was inviting and prompted action.
In other words, you had a series of measurable goals and took action to reach them. You knew that a good website must A) generate traffic and B) generate leads. You knew those were complex challenges that required time, effort, and experimentation.
Just as making a website without measurable traffic and lead-generation goals won’t get any results, a social media presence without measurable goals (in terms of profile visits and lead-generation) will not get results.
- You Come Across as an Asshole
Communication over digital media is different from face-to-face communication. In a face-to-face communication you can get across subtle nonverbal cues. People can figure out what you mean based on how you say it. Tone of voice comes across clearly, even on the phone.
None of that is present online. Digital communication means your words alone make an impression.
That means the LinkedIn Police constantly throw away good business opportunities by telling marketers (usually highly skilled marketers, too) that what they’re posting “doesn’t belong on LinkedIn.”
If it didn’t belong on LinkedIn, the best marketers wouldn’t be posting it. So instead of alienating these people right off the bat, why not try to figure out why these people are posting these things?
- You Try Too Hard to Push the Sale
If every single one of your posts is a sales pitch, nobody is going to listen to you.
Listen: I get it. I wish I could just post about my LinkedIn marketing services all the time and have people lining up to throw cash at me automatically. But things aren’t that simple.
There are a gazillion people on LinkedIn. You’re trying to find the tiny fraction of those people who A) have an interest in what you’re selling, and B) have the authority to buy what you’re selling.
You won’t find them unless your posts get seen by many, many people. That means most of your posts are going to have to be geared toward a wider audience than the one you’re actively trying to sell to. You can include sales pitches in your posting repertoire—but you can’t always be selling if you want real results.
- You Don’t Try Hard Enough to Push the Sale
Believe it or not, this is a pretty common mistake. It might even be more common than pushing the sale too hard, actually—because when somebody pushes too hard it’s obvious, but if somebody’s not pushing enough they’re the only ones who ever know.
But here’s the thing: there are people active around LinkedIn who don’t make it clear what they’re selling, or even if they’re selling anything at all. There are people on LinkedIn who get approached by viable leads and don’t follow up.
These people exist, and they wonder why they don’t get results from LinkedIn. Too much directness is no good, as we all know, but too little directness can be just as disastrous. Don’t do it.
- You Don’t Know Your Customer in Detail
This is fundamental. Before you go out to make a sale, you should know who you’re trying to sell to. You should know their problems. You should know their needs. You should know where they are in the buying process when they first encounter your material.
Take the time to put together a customer persona. This is a systematic description of your ideal customer. Your promotional material and selling process must be directed at your ideal customer.
You don’t want to do business with just anyone who comes along. Figure out all you can about the type of client you want to attract—then figure out how to make it happen.
- You Don’t Genuinely Help People
This is a cliché, but it’s true: social media is a social environment. I’m the most introverted person I know, so it took me a long time to figure this part out.
Because I’m so introverted, every time I’d hear about “relationship selling” or anything like that I’d want to roll my eyes and feel like puking. I just wanted to exchange my services for my clients’ money and have that be the end of it.
I made mistakes, in other words.
If you want to get what you need from LinkedIn, you have to give first. And I know how corny it sounds to say something like that, because I feel awkward and cheesy just by typing the words. They’re true words, though. You have to give value to get value.
So help people out when you can. Go out of your way to find ways to help. It’s hard at first, especially if you’re like me and you’re not used to it. But give to people without thinking about how they can pay you back. It’s scary, but you’ll be surprised at the results.
- You Don’t Have a Process for Generating Leads
If you don’t understand how your content contributes to building your brand, improving your outreach, or moving people through the buying process, you have a problem.
Remember your mission when using social media. Pull off all the layers of spin and remember your social media presence has one purpose and one purpose only: to produce leads who eventually turn into clients. Focus on refining that process.
Building your process is important. Break it down. Understand the steps of the process, from when your prospects first become aware of you, to the point where they understand what you can do for them, to the point where they feel the desire to reach out to you and become active leads.
- You Don’t Have a Process for Turning Leads into Sales
You need to make sales. It’s as simple as that. If you set up the funnel leading prospects to your door, you can’t let yourself drop the ball at the last minute. You have to follow through.
Listen, I get it. I’m a marketer. Personally I love setting up systems, but actually interacting with my fellow human beings takes some pumping-up.
If you’re not making sales, your problem is that you’re not trying hard enough. You’re making excuses. You’re letting a weak process sabotage you. Remember: process is everything. You want to make it easy for people to choose your company. Once you do that, you’ve got it made.
- You Try Too Hard to Sound Smart
Don’t get me wrong: there’s a time and a place for industry jargon. There’s even a time and a place for industry jargon in a sales process. But too much of it used in the wrong way will scare people away long before they’ve started to listen to you.
If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying simply. Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest speakers in history, and he was known for making his points with simple stories and fables.
Your customers are smart people. They can understand what you’re talking about—as long as you don’t hide it behind a lot of jargon!
- You Don’t Meaningfully Interact with People
Social media is about relationships. It’s about reaching out to the people who have what you need, the people who need what you have, and the people you meet along the way. If you want to wear gloves and look at people through windows, social media isn’t for you.
Success on LinkedIn is a matter of meaningful relationships built up over time. Put yourself and your business out there, and you’ll see how it works. So reach out to the people who have what you want. Reach out to the people who know what you need to know. Reach out to the people who can help you.
You’ll be glad you did.