The rise of Linkedin since flotation in May 2011, is well documented.
On the first day of trading, the shares jumped up over 100%, two years later the company has nearly quadrupled in value. As a result, companies have looked more closely at LinkedIn and the opportunities it offers for business. A challenging economic climate has also encouraged more companies to look at LinkedIn as an opportunity to boost sales.
And thereby lies the problem…
To think of LinkedIn as a sales tool is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make with your LinkedIn personal profile…
What do I mean exactly?
Well, LinkedIn is all about networking, the notion that ‘people buy people.’ Typically the B2B buying cycle is longer and more complex than the B2C equivalent. That means business decision makers often search for content over a significant period of time before even contacting a shortlist of potential suppliers. If your business is not providing this kind of content then you are missing the opportunity to get on the ‘short-list’ of your potential customers.
In other words if you are visible, saying the right things then you will appear credible and if you are visible and credible then you will be profitable. LinkedIn provides the perfect platform for businesses to exploit the VCP process.
It seems obvious, but it is amazing how few businesses follow this principle!
Why else would business people turn their LinkedIn personal profile into a company page.
Click the images below and take a closer look at these LinkedIn personal profiles:
In these examples, LinkedIn members have decided to promote their business through a personal profile. A LinkedIn personal profile should be optimised to highlight the skills and achievements of an individual supported by as many personal recommendations as possible. This can then be linked to a LinkedIn company page for maximum visibility.
In each of these cases it is impossible to discern the identity of the individual promoting the business. This makes it very difficult for other LinkedIn members receiving connection requests, because they have no idea who they are connecting to! Furthermore, reading the profile makes little sense because underneath the name and professional headline, it lists the current and previous employment plus the educational background!
I’m not suggesting in anyway that these are poorly run businesses. Infact, in each instance, it is highly likely that the achievements of these businesses is down to the efforts of one key individual. Expressing this using a personal profile linked to a company page gives potential connections a clear understanding of the individual, their skill set and achievements linked through to how they use those attributes in business.
Today’s interactive marketing is all about creating content for your target audience to consume when and where they want. Creating a clear and concise story that focuses on how you help customers and how you add value is the key to success in content marketing. Supporting your journey with a series of status updates and LinkedIn recommendations makes for a very credible and transparent story which ultimately will encourage prospective customers to add you to their short list of potential suppliers.
Don’t be tempted into using your LinkedIn personal profile as a sales tool, think of it as a tool to build your personal network and your business reputation!