From Connections to Clients, the Tech Entrepreneur's Guide to Success on LinkedIn
Get clients from LinkedIn...? What even is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn hosts the biggest online network of professionals in the world. However, LinkedIn is so much more than just another niche play on a social network.
- LinkedIn can be used to search for a new job role through its LinkedIn Jobs feature which also hosts internships and other opportunities for students to gain experience.
- LinkedIn can be used to create, develop and strengthen professional connections, across industries, regions and the world.
- LinkedIn can be used to encourage collaboration and creativity with other professionals.
- LinkedIn can be used to learn new skills through a premium feature called LinkedIn Learning which provides unlimited access to a vast array of online courses.
The network can be accessed through different channels in the same way as a social network, i.e., from a desktop, the LinkedIn mobile app (Apple and Android) or through mobile web browsing.
A compelling profile on LinkedIn doesn’t just give you an online presence, it is a platform from where you can launch a variety of strategies. In a neutral way, your profile is an around the clock showcase, for yourself! It’s showing off your skills, expertise, experience and personality to the other 774 million members across 200 different countries. Things such as your background and education can be used to reach out to people who share an experience or geographical connection with you. This approach isn’t tribal, far from it, these connections create unique sub-networks which you can then become active in, accessing them for insight and solutions to specific problems that these sub-networks might be experts in. In this way, through your isolated profile, you become part of something much bigger and much smaller at the same time, with connections and groups becoming as macro or granular as you need in order to meet your goals.
Through these connections, you can contribute and participate in the collective lot by organising events, (online or offline), joining/creating groups, writing articles, submitting videos or presentations and by commenting on the work of others.
What can LinkedIn do for me, a tech entrepreneur?
As a tech entrepreneur, LinkedIn can be an invaluable source of personal and professional exposure. This could be a real boost for you during times such as during fundraising rounds or when targeting prospective clients. The LinkedIn platform allows you as a founder/CEO to leverage your credibility and reach a potentially huge audience, (if you get things right). The rewards can be staggering for very little actual investment, beyond the time taken to participate and contribute…
Networking to create genuine connections and partnerships with key players in your market
Part of relationship building is being authentic. And networking is relationship building. LinkedIn is a professional site, but it’s important to represent your true self, your values and your motivations. Connections online, just like offline, need to be based on an honest and genuine intention for mutual respect and benefit.
With that in mind, avoid having a generic script that you might use to copy and paste to key individuals!
Be yourself, do your research and only send unsolicited messages about things that might be of interest or importance.
Reaching out to people on LinkedIn can be more difficult than other social networks as there is a fine line to walk when remaining professional and also breaking the ice:
Some things you may want to mention when building a network base, especially if you’re just starting and messaging a large number of people:
- You graduated/attended the university/college as they did and found them in an alumni group.
- You share the same hometown. You might discuss a local landmark or event.
- Your prospective connection has recently published an article you found interesting and you wanted to share your thoughts.
Your aim when sending the first message should not be to win a client, but to create a genuine connection. If you end up winning a client as well…that’s amazing!
Becoming part of something bigger than yourself can be highly rewarding and lead to other opportunities. When starting on LinkedIn you should be aiming to make meaningful connections and you should have some specific people in mind too. These might be individuals that are doing something similar to you, they might be a couple of years ahead in the entrepreneurial journey, or they may just be loosely connected to your industry through a creative or unique approach to what they do.
Regardless, if you can reach these people, you can become part of something bigger and contribute to an alliance or partnership that not only helps you reach your goals but also benefits them and possibly other people too. This is the power of the global network. Imagine for example if you were to co-author an article that is widely shared and creates millions of responses across LinkedIn, the opportunities off the back of that could be staggering.
In other words....
Visibility comes before engagement
If nobody can see you, nobody can talk to you. This sounds so obvious but in practice,Positioning your LinkedIn profile to get clients it’s not as simple as it sounds. What is visibility and how do you create it?
Visibility can be boosted in several, ways:
- Producing and sharing content.
- Utilising LinkedIn features such as #hashtags.
- Structuring posts to maximise exposure, target a specific group or demographic and know how to reach them.
Producing and sharing content is a great way to boost your profile and reputation. The LinkedIn Publisher feature is a powerful tool that once used allows your content to be searchable both on and off of LinkedIn. This opens your profile up to everybody online who might be searching for content related to your area of expertise. The relevant and insightful your content, the bigger the impact it will have the wider it will be shared and interacted with. Each interaction can lead to more views and connections.
Some tips for content creation:
- Share the latest industry trends in a timely and interesting way.
- Make predictions and provoke group discussions.
- Share resources.
- Share experiences or inspirational stories.
It’s important not to lose yourself in creating content, to the point that it becomes irrelevant or full of corporate jargon. Stay true to yourself, let your personality come across in your content and remain authentic. This gives your connections and wider audience a chance to get to know you and interact with you on a professional and human level, making connections more valuable, meaningful and effective.
People can use the hashtag symbol (#) before a keyword or phrase within their content to classify that content and help it to show up more easily in search results. This can be an easy win when looking to grow visibility as the hashtags might already be there and you simply have to insert a few # symbols. There is a balance to be struck though, in professional writing if you included too many hashtags your writing may appear amateurish, or even worse, like spam. Stick using the most appropriate keywords and if you’re not sure, a quick internet search of “top trending LinkedIn hashtags” can help make sure you’re classifying your content in a way that will reach the widest audience.
Structuring posts to give you the biggest impact is important, and if you don’t do it then you’re not maximising your offer. Just knowing a few key statistics can help you target sub-groups or populations and focus your energy in a way that will encourage more interaction.
For example, LinkedIn posts with images get 2 times higher engagement. To be even more specific, larger images, (LinkedIn recommends 1200x627 pixels) get a 38% higher click-through rate than other images.
Now you know that you can structure your posts to include a large image each time, maximising your reach and ultimately leading to you getting clients from LinkedIn! It’s so simple but also so easy to not do.
Other useful statistics to know are:
- LinkedIn users are 20x more likely to re-share a video post. The most common type of content which is re-shared on the platform is video. If you want people to help you spread a message, this might be a good option.
- LinkedIn Live is a video streaming offer from LinkedIn, the number of live streams has increased by 437% since 2020. LinkedIn Live is the fastest-growing type of content on LinkedIn and is 5x more likely to start a conversation with connections.
- 59.9% of LinkedIn’s users are between 25 and 34 years old.
- 76% of LinkedIn’s users are outside the U.S.
- 57% of LinkedIn users are men, and 43% are women.
It’s straightforward to see that just by knowing these basic facts about LinkedIn, you can position your content in such a way as to best reach your audience and meet your goals.
Positioning your LinkedIn profile to get clients
Above we’ve seen why you should use LinkedIn and how you can use its tools and features to reach people. Now we’re going to go after clients. If you want to get clients from LinkedIn you need to have a clear and focussed strategy. That starts with how you position yourself.
Everything you do on LinkedIn starts and ends with how you position yourself on your profile. This is just as important as the quality of any content you create. This is how you present yourself to the world, get it wrong and everything else you do will be degraded because of it.
If you decide to use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool for your tech start-up or as a means to “cold call” potential clients, the first thing these people will do is go to your profile page. They will look you up and down, assess your level of expertise and then form a judgement. This happens very quickly and not always consciously.
Your profile page needs to show you off. You need to be telling people
- Who you are.
- What you do.
- Why you’re an authority.
People will judge you based on these things and then decide whether you can help them or not.
Creating a good LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to be painful or cringe and you can follow the tips here to get yourself started.
Add a professional profile photo. Professional is the keyword here! This blog has some useful tips to help guide you. It is exclusively a business network and as such your presentation should represent you as a brand, not you at a party. LinkedIn reports that profiles with photos get 21x more views and 36x more messages. Its importance can’t be overstated, this will be the first thing that everyone sees when engaging with you in any way.
Make your headline attention-grabbing. This is an opportunity to promote yourself. How do you want to be known? Do you want to be an “expert”, do you want to be associated with a specific start-up or industry or do you just want to express your personality a little bit? The use of keywords in your headline will help bring your profile up in search results and is a simple way to give your visibility a nudge in the right direction. Some advice on writing a headline can be found here. If you’re not the type for expressive writing, simply stating your current position and then expanding on your skillset and specialisations is a strong starting point.
Write your summary. This is essentially the “about” section of your profile. Here is the place to discuss your tech start-up, ideas, goals, motivations and skills. Be careful not to write too much, keep it clear and concise so as not to come across too wordy. Some good examples can be found here. Use this as an opportunity to add context to your career history and highlight your achievements. Make sure you’re presenting the very best version of yourself! Strike a balance between professionalism and being human, show your personality and be authentic, readers will pick up on regurgitated corporate jargon and buzz words. Show who you are and take stock of your journey so far.
Complete your work and education experiences. Keep your profile up to date and aligned with your current career goals. If you’ve had any media exposure in the past, you can link it here too.
Add your skills. This is the place to list your relevant skills and abilities. This helps your connections (and potential clients) to understand how you can add value. Not only that, but it may also lead to other opportunities from people looking for someone with your specific skill set. Your colleagues and connections on here endorse your skills once you’ve listed them. Having a thorough and up to date list of skills is a way of building your professional brand and engaging your network.
Seek recommendations. Recommendations are done by other LinkedIn members and recognise your work. You can accept or decline a recommendation if you don’t think it aligns with your business goals. You can request recommendations from your connections and once you accept them, they become visible on your profile.
Assess. LinkedIn has a strength meter feature that helps you to judge how strong your profile is. This is a helpful tool that can help you to ensure all the different aspects of your profile are as strong as they could be and you have no bits missing.
Become the authority
Now your profile is up and it’s looking strong. You have a good number of sincere connections and you’re visible. It’s time to build your authority.
By putting out content and becoming active in groups and debates you are positioning yourself as an expert. Every time you publish an article or put out a video, you’re conditioning your audience to see you as an authority in your area of interest. Even if they’re not looking to become a client of yours at that time, the potential that they will do increases with each opportunity you have to talk to them.
Ultimately, your content should be broadly focussed on topics that present the solutions and value that your clients are looking for. Become known as someone that helps your network, listens to the comments and engages with people off the back of this.
By being a presence on the LinkedIn platform and operating in this space of helpful and meaningful content, you will be passively attracting clients and grooming future clients. If you get this bit right, the return on investment can be huge.
So far, you’ve built a customised network, you’re delivering relevant content and driving conversations. You’re positioned as an authority in your area of operation and now you want to drive sales.
Getting clients from LinkedIn should be a natural progression once all other aspects of your online presence are covered. Each connection, each interaction, each direct message your receive is an opportunity to gain a new client.
If you’re essentially cold calling leads using direct messages you have to follow a clear strategy.
1. Target people who have already interacted with your profile or your content. That way your message isn’t cold anymore, and you can make it meaningful to them which increases the chances of them responding. For example, if you notice a CFO of a company you could sell to has “liked” an article you recently wrote, you can follow up by thanking him and discussing some points from it that relates to his business.
2. Know how many messages you need to send to make a sale. How many conversations can you start a day? Or a week? Once your strategy is in place, stick to it and be prepared to change it based on results.
3. Classify your leads into the likelihood of success and focus more time resources on the prospects that you calculate are most likely to benefit you.
4. Understand how to turn an online conversation into a phone call or virtual meeting. Talking online is a great start, but once you have that rapport you quickly need to take it offline to move towards or complete your sale. Protracted direct messages might be nice, but ultimately are a waste of everyone’s time.
Getting clients on LinkedIn is achievable, but it takes work. Once you have a persuasive profile established, you have a platform to be able to go after leads and gain clients and with over 774 million members across 200 different countries, there’s plenty to go after!
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