As a LinkedIn speaker and trainer I work with executives on how to use the platform for business development. I also practice what I preach. 90 percent of my new business leads come from LinkedIn.
Here are 3 ways you can use LinkedIn for business development:
Connect with someone who's viewed your profile
In my estimation, this may be one of the most underutilized features on LinkedIn. Check in on a regular basis to see who's viewed your profile. Not connected? Then if they are of interest - as a potential employer or client - then invite them to connect.
Be sure to personalize the invitation. Start with: "I noticed you accessed my profile on LinkedIn. I had a chance to review your profile and I believe we would both benefit by connecting directly." Something like that works very well. It's a great way to start the conversation!
Say Happy Birthday or Congratulations
While I don't have scientific proof, my gut (and experience) says that the "seven touches" needed to close a sale is now 17 or more...thanks to social media and all the noise in various marketing channels.
With that in mind, LinkedIn has a great feature called "Keep in Touch." It allows you to say Happy Birthday, congratulations on a new job or work anniversary to your connections.
Use this as a business development tool. Take the time to reconnect with your connections - keeping you front-of-mind. I can tell you from experience that it works and can help to bring in new business (or a job opportunity).
Of course, you need to be sincere and not blatant. Don't say: "Happy Birthday Jim. Now about that sales position you have open..."
Meet People Where They Live
To me, LinkedIn groups are like online chambers of commerce. Want to meet someone and start up a conversation? Go to the groups where they frequent on LinkedIn, like or comment on their discussions.
You can find a target customer's groups just by visiting their profiles. LinkedIn lists them automatically (unless the feature is disabled by the user).
Now granted, this is just scratching the surface of how you can use LinkedIn for business development, but it's a good start. Take a few minutes and try one (or two or three) of my suggestions. You might be surprised with how well they work for you!
Chuck Hester is a LinkedIn power connector, with more than 15,000 direct connections on LinkedIn. A LinkedIn trainer and speaker, he helps businesses get the most out of LinkedIn, while teaching them how to communicate effectively. His LinkedIn training can be found at www.chuckhester.com/linkedintraining or contact him directly at email@example.com.