LinkedIn is one of the very best tools for B2B marketing – if it’s used in the right way. It’s great for:

  • Making contacts
  • Networking
  • Getting your brand known

But there’s one golden rule for LinkedIn Marketing:  ‘Don’t Sell Your Products or Services’.

You can use LinkedIn to help other people find solutions to their problems. Perhaps you’re in a position to answer some of their questions. You can use the platform to demonstrate your expertise, by helping to resolve their issues.

It takes time, but eventually, by being helpful to other people, you’ll find that work, contacts and referrals will start to roll in. it’s a very effective online version of physical networking. But just as with face-to-face networking, you can’t just join a group and start trying to drum up sales. You might, just might, pick up one or two, but even that’s doubtful. And you certainly won’t generate any goodwill for your brand.

Build your reputation

The best thing about LinkedIn is that it gives you so many opportunities to offer advice and solutions. And that enables you to build up a positive association with your brand.

So don’t think of LinkedIn as a sales tool. You shouldn’t be trying to sell any products or services. What you are looking at selling is a conversation or meeting – it could be a face-to-face meeting, or via phone or video. It’s about recommendations. Someone hears about a problem, and your name instantly springs to mind as a solution.

Creating an avatar for LinkedIn

We’ve written before about creating customer avatars. We’re great believers in putting in the necessary research, even though it takes a bit of time. But when you create an avatar, or profile, of your perfect customer, you can go to LinkedIn and find people that match that profile. Now you can easily start connecting with them. The platform gives you the perfect opportunity to start communicating with them, looking for ways to be of help. You’re then ideally placed at the forefront of their minds when a suitable business opportunity arises.

Build Your Customer Profile

There’s a lot of key information that will help you to refine your avatar. It’s best to prepare a list of questions to really drill down into your perfect customers.

  • What do they do?
  • What are their interests?
  • Where do they hang out online?

It’s really easy to start connecting with the right people once you know how. Just start typing in a job title, or other search term, and you’ll be presented with exactly the people you’re hoping to reach.

Once you’ve made a connection, you can go down to the bottom of their LinkedIn profile page, to find out which groups they’re following. You can also click on their posts too, to find out what they’ve been talking about, or asking questions about. And ideally, you’re looking for questions where you could have pitched in with a useful response.

Now you can find groups that they belong to. Find the people they hang out with online, and this is very likely to lead you to similar people, who have similar issues or questions. Now you can position yourself to help, to answer and to provide solutions for people. And this is the real value of LinkedIn.

Fine-tune the LinkedIn experience

Rather than simply hitting the ‘Connect’ button, why not personalise your introduction for extra impact? Send your intended contact a personal note, including their name, and explain why you’d like to connect. Thank them, if they accept, but never use it as an opportunity to sell anything.

Perhaps you can find areas of interest in common to chat about. But one sure-fire way of connecting is to answer their questions, or to offer advice, when it’s asked for. But remember, it may not always be about you – you might be able to introduce them to a third party who can help with a specific issue, for example.

And one quick word of advice – don’t just go connecting with anybody, be selective, many connection requests are to sell products or services to you and have little interest in helping you or working with you Build connections with like-minded people and people who could become a customer of yours. You can also connect with people working in a similar industry, for example. It could even be your competitors – we all have strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes working together on projects can bring about the best results.

Don’t give up!

Lots of people give up way too early with LinkedIn. They rush in too quickly with connections and try to push for a sale straight away. This approach almost always fails, as it instantly puts people on their guard. The key to success with LinkedIn is to have patience!

Think of LinkedIn as being primarily about building relationships. The focus should be on being helpful to others. Eventually, you’ll find that you can build up a network of contacts who can introduce you to other people and businesses.

Ironically, LinkedIn can be the best sales tool that you could wish for. But it’s very much about the indirect sale. So use it to make connections and build relationships with people. It you take the time and trouble to genuinely help others, it will all come back to you many times over, and you’ll reap the benefits in the future.

For further help and advice on LinkedIn Marketing just get in touch, or connect on LinkedIn.

Richard Stinson

For more information on marketing your engineering business get in touch with Richard, he has over 15 years marketing experience, many of those gained within the engineering sector itself.