Of all the questions circulating about the usefulness of LinkedIn, this is perhaps the most frequently asked.
The answer, in a word, is no.
Networks like Facebook have skewed perception about what it means to “do business online.” Although Facebook has made great strides in catering to the business crowd, it remains a casual hang out, a place where anyone can sell anything.
LinkedIn is not about selling. LinkedIn is about relationship building. It is not a sales tool; it is a lead generation tool.
I know you’ve heard this before, but how has this knowledge impacted your LinkedIn activity?
If you have a LinkedIn profile, but your network activity is dormant, you may be wondering where you’ve gone wrong. Or, perhaps you’ve optimized your LinkedIn profile, but still are not connecting as deeply as expected.
Here’s what you need to know:
LinkedIn is actually two delivery channels in one, the outbound and the inbound. On the outbound side, we have the profile, (most notably, your headline) shared updates, employment history, and other items that tell the world who you are. On the inbound side, we have invites, connections, recommendations, and group discussions.
You simply cannot achieve your lead generation goals using LinkedIn without taking full advantage of both channels.
This means you not only need a fully optimized profile, but you must be consistently active. The profile is the hub of your activity. And yes, you’ve got to connect and grow your network. But the true power of LinkedIn membership lies in your value to others.
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This can be a tough pill for business owners to swallow. For example, how long must you continue to connect before something good happens? How do you know you’re connecting with the right people? Which groups should you join? What do you do when you get there?
It all seems like so much wasted time to many members…until that first hot lead appears. Then, the skies open up and the angels sing and, Eureka! You get it!
Before we had great tools like LinkedIn, salespeople used other lead generation activities to find prospects and close business. In truth, not much has changed. Perhaps we rely more on technology, and less on the telephone. We’ve certainly reduced overall participation in live events, like trade shows and conferences. No doubt, we spend less time face-to-face with prospects and more time engaging online. But the core goal of sales, to make solid connections that lead to business, remains the same. All that has really changed are the tools we use to get there.
So, can you really make money using LinkedIn? No, but you can certainly access key decision makers like never before, become an expert in your industry, reach out and touch your target market, and build brand buzz right from the comfort of your office chair…and these activities, my friends, are what lead to real revenue.
Victoria Ipri is CEO of Modello Media, Inc.,an e-marketing strategy firm specializing in LinkedIn marketing. She welcomes your questions and comments on this forum, or contact her directly via LinkedIn or at: Victoria@ModelloMedia.com