Walking down the roads of strategic thinking for professional networking or business building, most of us would agree to name LinkedIn as a well-built pathway to tread on. What’s better than understanding the dynamics of LinkedIn as a professional networking platform from someone who trains consultants and is an expert regarding that platform. Daniel Alfon from Tel Aviv wrote the book entitled “How to Build a LinkedIn Profile for Business Success“. For most of us in the B2B marketing or consulting space, it’s a great read on what LinkedIn has become and where it’s going. I interviewed Daniel to find out about the future of LinkedIn, and of business networking at large.
Networking and Growing Your B2B Business with LinkedIn
Tell us about what LinkedIn really is for B2B business folks
LinkedIn is what you want it to be for your business. If you’re a hypergrowth company and all you’re interested in is finding talent, then you should focus on sharing jobs and ensuring that your existing employees are using their network to tap into candidates. If you are a content publisher or a marketer, then you should focus on the networking aspect of it.
The strength of LinkedIn simply comes from deciding what is it that you’d like to leverage LinkedIn for.
This simple, straightforward question is one that a lot of LinkedIn users do not ask themselves. What is your top marketing priority: recruiting, publishing or getting more views? Or, do you need referrals?
It could be that you went there almost exclusively for publishing content, but now you could use it for networking. If your marketing department is producing high quality content, then leveraging LinkedIn to get more exposure for it is a great idea. It requires some coordination, and it can’t be top down.
How do you establish business success in B2B, is it being able to sell more?
One way to look at it is at the top of the funnel. Transactions would not happen on LinkedIn. However, it could be the platform where more people are made aware of your solution via a webinar or a demo. Then, they get in touch or something else happens outside of LinkedIn.
You want people to find your solution and within seconds understand that it is something interesting.
When I look at your profile and I see that we have a number of mutual connections, then what I think about those people will affect and influence the way I think of you. If I think highly of them, even if I don’t ask them about that at all, then something of some of the stardust would actually be above your head
LinkedIn : a battle for visibility or a tool for B2B networking?
Lately, while I was doing a training session for KPMG, I had mentioned three key points which I think could be relevant. When an employee of your firm shares or likes or comments, there are three dimensions to it. One, he is about the way others perceive that action. Let’s say that we are connected, and I see that you like some content. In many cases, ‘liking’ is perceived to be the lowest trust characteristic of your engagement. It doesn’t mean that you even read it. It could simply be that you like the person who published that content.
Sharing is more valuable in the eyes of many people. But if an employee is doing it, then I would encourage her to not just share, but add something of her own. This could be a sentence with an explanation of why it’s so compelling or interesting or why you disagree with the author’s claim.
So if you decide to share someone else’s content, then that means you think highly of it. It makes sense to take a few more seconds and add your own perspective. Now, it becomes more genuine and interesting for the reader.
The third is the algorithm. Since it is the darkest secret of LinkedIn which it never shares, we are only left with the other two elements. Some inside information says that LinkedIn doesn’t think highly of shares because it considers it as duplicating content, not marketing. Re-shared published content by employees may get limited additional views, whereas if you only liked it or commented about it, LinkedIn will show it to more people.
Let’s say we have an employee who is happy only re-sharing stuff, and does nothing else. Then even in the eyes of the algorithm, it’s not worth showing to five hundred extra people. We would be better leveraging the actions that people are organically willing to do rather than trying to chase the algorithm. It is going to change anyways in the next few days or weeks.
POLLution? on Linkedin
[Visionary Marketing] David Hughes, who’s got a huge following on LinkedIn, posted something on LinkedIn about what he calls pollution polls. There are polls everywhere. Are we going to have to send polls all the time or are they going to change again? Tell us what does that mean?
It’s so nicely introduced that at one point people are going to be fed up with 99% of the polls. We may have already reached that point.
Let’s focus on being interesting for our B2B customers and audiences. Before we pull the trigger of a poll, we should ask ourselves, why are we sharing this? There could be a number of reasons for it.
Try and suggest a simple flowchart before sharing the poll. Is this content with the question so compelling that many of your connections will feel intrigued to go and see the answer in the vote? I am afraid that most people and content creators will not find it easy to produce such content on a daily or even weekly basis. So, one interesting poll a month or a quarter would give you more engagement than five polls every week.
Daniel’s advice to consultants for business networking
[VM] People like us put in all our efforts and create a 70-page white paper. But when we post it on LinkedIn, we can’t get a certain number of views unless we insert a poll. When experts are striving, what is your million dollar advice to the average consultant out there?
Let me try and give you a number of nuggets and maybe all of them together will form the million dollar answer. What you should post on LinkedIn is something reverse engineered. In other words, find a quote, highlight an image and you do something that’s more the user-friendly.
People are not necessarily going to consume the content as it is seventy pages. When you try out what I have suggested, you will see that half a dozen interesting quotes or figures or something else is going to fetch a lot more responses and engagement than say, page 43 in the white paper.
When you share a snack piece of content, the idea is not for people to consume it on LinkedIn, but for more people to discover the content itself. Let me suggest two other ways. The initial thought that all of us have is to go to LinkedIn home page and share our fresh content. But when you’ve spent so much time creating it, then there’s another place to house it.
If it is evergreen content, then it could be part made part of your profile – the consultant’s profile. This would ascertain that everyone who would visit your profile shall see that PDF or the cover of that PDF. That alone in the long run, will help you gain more downloads or views than trying to share it across the board. Lastly, if we don’t want to rely on our connections only, then there’s another feature LinkedIn offers: LinkedIn groups.
For every consultant or prospect you are connected with, there could be dozens of other interesting prospects you are not going to connect with, but who could consume that content. Here’s when groups come in handy. Use your profile and your staff’s to highlight evergreen content. Not next week’s webinar, but something that you’ve worked hard for. That could be a way to gain a lot of exposure
The second idea would be to make sure that everyone in your team is sharing it. That too, should be done at different times.
Going back to the good old days of LinkedIn networking
Should an average consultant or salesperson, who doesn’t work in a team necessarily, go back to networking and square zero and start building a network or a community?
Yes, he should. One can try adopting LinkedIn creative mode, even though that has some problems, or have a connection strategy. Many people don’t have a connection strategy, they merely react. When you send them an invitation, they accept it or not by thinking about it in the short term. Because now I am doing this, so I would accept the invitation. But if six months ago I was into something else, I wouldn’t have.
It’s important to get back to the networking aspect of things. Networking is far more important than LinkedIn in my eyes
LinkedIn is a formidable and powerful tool for sure. There is no silver bullet though, no shortcut to run your networking. There’s no way anyone has found on LinkedIn or outside of LinkedIn to make it automated, easy, free and successful. The question about how an average person can differentiate his post from ten thousand other blogs was there before LinkedIn.
So what makes their blog special in the first place? Finding that special niche would mean that the consultant only focuses on maybe one percent of his audience and still be able to make a living.
Everyone should think of themselves as at least a mini influencer in their specific niche
[VM] So networking is the real issue for an average consultant. He has to realise that one needs to grow a community before he starts selling stuff. You see an invite on LinkedIn and then the person tries to sell stuff immediately afterwards.
Consultants who are able to help or educate their audience are in a better position than others who don’t
I don’t think one should have a LinkedIn personality per se. After all, our personality in real life exists. LinkedIn can, however, reflect the better aspects of one’s professional identity.
But as the saying goes, you can’t fool everyone all the time. In other words, if your LinkedIn personality is all shining bright and people who meet you in a Zoom call or in person think you’re a jerk, then what wins is real life because they will tell everyone about it. When I see that you and I share a mutual connection, then both of us can actually reach out to him and ask pertinent questions about the other person.
If he tells me that I should speak to you, and if I trust him, then even if you LinkedIn profile is nowhere near good, I would still do it. I’m not interested in your LinkedIn presence. I’m interested in you or your business. This information can influence the way people think about you. Eventually, it dictates if they wish to do business with your company or not.
On this note, if I want to wrap up in a few words, at the end of the day, what matters is not how you master LinkedIn. What matters is how good a human being you are. For those of our readers who would like to read more about LinkedIn and succeeding in their business through it can get their copy of Daniel’s book from Amazon. Happy networking!