Last week in Dallas, I was asked by a colleague how much time I spend on LinkedIn. My first thought was none of your damn business, but I responded, “Thirty to sixty minutes, seven days a week.”

“That’s it? You are everywhere. I feel like every time I go on LinkedIn, I see a post or an article from you.  Was this an insult or a compliment? Was he saying that I am to conspicuous? I was ready to PunchedIn him in the face. But then he added, “You do a great job of staying top of mind.”

I gathered my wits and mustered a very humble, “Thank you.”  

But my little busy body friend did get me to thinking. (note: italics show me thinking)  LinkedIn is a good research tool, and it also allows me to stay “in front” of millions of people. Perhaps I should share my wisdom with the world.

Dear World,

I am writing to you to help you see the value of using LinkedIn.  Here is my story:

I’m a very busy procurement executive,  so I am extremely OCD about how I spend each minute. I  block out time each day for LinkedIn. Today I spent an hour (5:00 to 6:00 AM) on the site.  

I use LinkedIn for four primary functions: researching people, connecting with prospects, staying in touch with prospects and clients and building my personal brand. I use Buffer (the free version) to automate my posts for the week.  I read articles, do research and create my posts on Sundays. I schedule my posts after 4:00 P.M. EST on business days because I get the most viewership and engagement when people are finishing up (or are done with) their workdays. I then spend time reading articles and posting comments.

When I’m in sales mode, I use LinkedIn a lot.  Here’s how I get the most out of LinkedIn:

1. I Leverage Connections

For me, the best way to get a meeting with a potential client is to have a friend send him or her an introductory LinkedIn note or email. The second best way to get a meeting is to use a friend’s name in an email and title the email: “Referral from Jon Smith.” My third choice for pursuing prospects? If I’m in Hercule Poirot mode (think Orient Express), I look for a prospect online and search my Mutual Connections.

 

I find a “mutual connection” friend and I ask her to send an email (that I write) to my prospective client. If she isn’t comfortable sending my email to make an introduction, I ask her if I can use her name in my note. If I have her permission, I send my prospect the LinkedIn note referencing my friend. Example note:

Hi Emily,

John Smith suggested I reach out to you. He mentioned you are making some changes within your company and might have a need for our outsourced print management solution.

If it makes sense to talk, can we chat 3/22 at 10 A.M. EST?

Thank you,

Sarah

2. I Use SalesNavigator Lead Tracker

I save all my prospects as a lead in SalesNavigator (only available with a paid account). I get notified via email of any job changes. When someone leaves a company, I am notified. It’s important for me to know when there is a job change because when a C-level executive starts a new job, she almost always make at least one major buying decision in the first 90 days. As this door opens, I hope to step in.

3. I Post Daily

I try to post a procurement relevant article  at least once a day on LinkedIn. My goal is to provide something of value that will be of interest to the type of people and companies I sell to.

4. I Write Articles

Sharing my ideas and insights is an important part of becoming a thought leader in my industry. I try to write at least one article per month on a topic that is relevant to my industry.  (See current article you are reading.)

5. I Enhance My Email signature

I put my LinkedIn profile website in my email signature. This makes it super easy for a prospect to find my profile and read my value position:

 

6.  I Highlight Prospect Accomplishments

I set Google alerts for my top 20 prospects. When I find a positive article about one of my prospects, I post it on LinkedIn and tag the decision maker in the article. NOTE: to tag a connection use @ before typing their name. Highlighting someone’s accomplishments publicly is a great way to get him/her to notice you and be interested in what you do. My first post today is a perfect example:

 

I hope this little LinkedIn letter helps all of my highly intelligent readers make a business connection or two, or three or more.  It takes about an hour a day on LinkedIn to “stay on top of mind”, but it is well worth the effort. Good luck!

Sincerely,

Sarah Scudder

ps…I am not on the LinkedIn payroll.  They couldn’t afford me!

This article first appeared in the Print Solutions Magazine produced by the Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA).

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