Is LinkedIn Helping Your Sales Reps Like It Could?

One of your responsibilities as a sales manager is helping your reps to use the tools at their disposal to best advantage both in their daily sales efforts and for professional development. LinkedIn can be a great tool for sales reps, helping them to build their networks, showcase their skills and talents, and prospect for new business. 

Here's a handy guide to help them (and you!) get the most out of LinkedIn.

Build Your Profile

Before you can expand your professional network or find new customers on LinkedIn, you need to have a solid, well-optimized profile. Think of your LinkedIn profile as a resume with benefits. It is one of the best ways for new contacts to find out about you, whether those are potential employees, potential customers, or potential employers. When someone does a google search for my name, for instance, my LinkedIn profile is the first thing to come up. That’s great, because I have complete control over my profile, and can make it look exactly how I want it to look.

Every member of your organization should have an updated LinkedIn profile that is linked to your organization's LinkedIn company page. If you haven’t filled out your LinkedIn profile yet, you can do it in a matter of moments. When you upload a current resume, LinkedIn will automatically pull the information from it, filling in your work and education history. Be sure to review it afterward to make sure everything has populated correctly.

After inputting basic information, one of the most important parts of your profile is your tagline and summary. The tagline consists of just five or six words, and should accurately and positively describe you. Your summary, on the other hand, can be several sentences long, and should highlight the skills and experience that set you apart.

In both your tagline and summary, include the most important keywords for which you’d like to come up in a search, but try to avoid buzzwords. For example, last week LinkedIn sent me an email informing me bluntly, “You say you’re ‘creative.’ So do 349,437 other people.” Sounds like it’s time for me to do a little sprucing up on my profile.

Finally, a picture is worth a thousand words. Human eyes are drawn to faces, and studies have shown that text with images is far more likely to be clicked on than text without. So yes, your profile does need a picture. But skip the selfies and the skydiving photos. Use a flattering, professional, but approachable photo.

Be a Social Butterfly

Just like in real life, if you want to connect online you need to reach out to people. LinkedIn, if used judiciously, can be a great way to expand your network and cement ties with your current contacts. Be careful, though, to follow appropriate social norms. You want to be outgoing, but not a creeper. That means DON’T randomly spam strangers with requests to connect (this could get your account flagged or even deleted).

If you don't have many connections, don't despair. Your first course of action, if you haven't taken it already, should be to allow LinkedIn to search your email address book for LinkedIn users. Then, just sit down and brainstorm your professional connections. You can include college classmates, colleagues at each of your jobs, as well as people you know in other contexts, such as charitable or other organizations.

While LinkedIn will generate a generic connection request for you, it’s far better to compose your own little note to the connection you’re requesting. Remind the person how he or she knows you, and ask a friendly question. Use your connection request as an opportunity to reconnect on a personal level, especially if it’s not a person you see every day.

Reciprocate the favor and accept connection requests from other people, unless you have a compelling reason not to. For maximum results, set your profile settings to public so that people can view your profile even before they connect with you. If you are bilingual, consider making your profile available in multiple languages. LinkedIn will also give you suggestions for potential connections. Make it a habit to log in at least once a week and connect with a few more people. Before you know it, you’ll have a very respectable network.

LinkedIn Is More than a Resume

One of the best things to do after filling out your profile and getting some connections is to start endorsing people for skills you know they have. Endorsing people is good manners, but it will also help you out, because most of your connections will visit your profile and endorse you back. Those endorsements enhance your credibility, because they provide an outside affirmation of the skills you list on your profile.

Feel free to endorse every one of your connections for a few skills. It’s easy, and takes only a few seconds. But also consider writing recommendations for current or former colleagues whom you know well and have observed in a professional setting. Writing recommendations is likely to get you some reciprocal recommendations. But it also makes you look like a generous and professional person (which you are, of course).

 Another great way to interact with people on LinkedIn is to join some groups. Choose a few groups that are pertinent to your field. A few of mine are Marketing, PR & Sales Innovators, B2B Sales, and Social Media Marketing. Be sure to read the community guidelines sent to you when you join. Some groups are very strict about links or self-promotion; others require that all posts be made in the form of a question. It can be a good idea to just read group posts for a few days before commenting to make sure you understand the community norms. Once you feel comfortable with the group vibe, go ahead and jump into the conversation. Making interesting and insightful comments is a great way to boost your credibility and connect with like-minded people.

Is your LinkedIn profile already perfect? Then try these extra-credit ideas:

Turn your best elevator pitch into a youtube video and post it on your profile. Video is one of the best ways to grab attention, and having a potential employer or client see you on video is the next best thing to turning your mad sales skillz on them in person.

Stalk people. Did you know you can see how many people have viewed your profile recently, and even their identities? Monitoring activity on your profile can help you gauge people’s interest level, whether they are potential clients, potential employees, or potential employers.

Take the first step today, and make LinkedIn work for you! Then come on over and follow the Netpique company page for inspirational sales quotes and useful industry tips.

Need sales consulting or outsourcing? Contact Netpique sales outsourcing today!