April 21

5 steps for using LinkedIn as lead generation tool

Social Media

18  comments

Like many of you, I’m using LinkedIn to connect with work friends and colleagues. But I’ve been intrigued by how LinkedIn has quietly developed into a useful lead generation tool for marketers and sales people to build relationships with potential customers.

I’ve discovered that it’s a pretty simple process if you’re willing to invest the time to freely share your expertise and thought leadership with others.

Here are 5 ways you can generate leads via LinkedIn:

Step #1 – Create a polished and personally branded profile on LinkedIn. Start connecting to your current and past contacts – focus on connecting with contacts where trust already exists.

Step #2 – Join LinkedIn groups where your clients/customers gather and participate.

Step #3 – Post relevant content on groups. Start building your credibility in the group by sharing relevant content. This can include things like relevant blog posts, links to articles you have written, articles that quote you and event notices for webinars etc. Be sensitive to the dynamics of your group and don’t dominate the conversation!

Step #4 – Answer questions posted on LinkedIn. Answer questions that are relevant to your expertise or something you're passionate about.  Group members often post questions on LinkedIn. Answer them and demonstrate your expertise and add value to the conversation. You can also visit LinkedIn Answers.  

Step #5 – Create your own LinkedIn group and share relevant content. Starting your own group gives you control over its content and reach. You can choose to open the group only to people you know or if appropriate, and you have the time, you can open it up to a larger audience. The goal is to engage your audience and leverage your thought leadership to make a difference with members of your group.

Here are a few other resources that have helpful tips on using LinkedIn for lead generation.

Ford Harding’s blog: Leads from LinkedIn

Hubspot blog: LinkedIn's Little Secret: It's a Great Lead-Gen Tool

What have your experiences been with LinkedIn for lead generation? Which LinkedIn Groups do you find the most useful as a B2B Sales person or Marketer and why?

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing. He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. True. Just like email there is junk that can clog and pollutes group posts and discussion. But that’s where moderation by the group leader is important.

    Be sure to share RELEVANT content, posts and answers on LinkedIn. People are looking for relevant resources via groups not sales pitches.

  2. Agreed – Linkedin has a great potentiality for B2B lead generation.
    However, as easy as it seems, you really need to invest time on it before it starts paying off.
    For ex : it might be hard sometimes to make your content stand out of the garbage that is polluting some groups.

  3. I find that LinkedIn is good for networking, but to me, a lead is the potential for a sale. The difficulty is transforming a relationship conversation into a sales conversation without killing the relationship. Nurturing from LinkedIn or other social network will be a longer process than if LinkedIn can drive potential customers into a formal lead process. It’s not to say that some LinkedIn leads will be short cycles, but my impression is that it is a qualifying step vs. being qualified for a marketing status to sales status transition.

  4. No worries. They’re just using what I wrote with proper attribution which is great : ) So we’re fine. All is good and thanks for the heads up.

  5. Interesting, I am trying LinkedIn which I hardly gave a thought to as a lead generation tool a few years ago. Similarly I am trying with e-cademy as well as flirting with lots of other social media sites.

    Undoubtedly relationships and then leads will result – I hope(!) – but I am worried about the time investment and resultant ROI.

    Google Ads definately worked for me but I recall 95% of search is on the left, organic side – so would it be better to spend time and money on the organic search results??

    With LinkedIn and other social media would the time and money be better spent on more diect methods like Google or telemarketing.

  6. Ah, LinkedIn is a true netweaver’s dream come true. Business networking on steroids and amphetamines. One of the things I’ve really been focusing on is ‘mapping’ my contacts (and their contacts) on a visual quadrant map using number of connections, their level of influence or recognition in their community, and how aligned I am with them in multiple dimensions such as services provided, approaches, backgrounds, etc. In theory, it will allow me to spend 80% of my time looking for ways to provide value and connections to the 20% of my most important connections. Otherwise it’s too easy and tempting to spend time where it’s comfortable but not necessarily (or usually) productive. This is something I really believe is making a difference in my business and I’m slowly turning my clients on to it as well.

  7. Thank you for this helpful article. I think that it is very important for savvy sales people to leverage the possibilities that are being created by these new marketing networks.

  8. Julian,

    I was interested in you post on Brian Carroll’s blog about Linked in and took a look at your website.

    In response to your question concerning how best to promote your business, I would suggest what you undoubtedly tell your sales people when they call on a new customer. Until you as the professional evaluate your customers needs, you would not make any recommendations as to possible solutions.

    I would suggest that your organization speak with someone who, instead of selling you a product, provides a service. I actually represent one such service, Dirextion. We handle all types of digital media, not just one product or type. Through our discussions with our clients we help determine what vehicle should get you the best result. Further, within a particular medium, for example, on-line banner advertising, we evaluate which site or sites should offer you the best ROI based on the site’s visitor demographics, phsycographics and geographics.

    I saw on your website that you are primarily in the EU. We presently do not have any representatives there, however, what we do we can tailor to anyplace.

    Feel free to contact me and I would be happy to help you in determining how to evaluate how and where you market your organization. Consultation is free.

  9. we have used linkedin as a b2b marketing tool with much success. But we find that nothing takes the place of a successful cold call to a well researched and quailified prospect.

  10. We have used linkedin as a b2b marketing tool with a bit of success, But we find that nothing takes the place of a successfully placed cold call to a well researched and qualified prospect.

  11. Hi Brian, I completely agree with your post. LinkedIn is a super tool for generating leads if done so correctly. Like with anything on the internet, it all comes down to quality, engaging content that adds value to you and your users while still doing it correctly within the framework of that social media tool. Ian Cleary blogged recently on the O2 Ideas Room blog about the importance of using LinkedIn for business and networking. I think your readers will benefit from his wisdom also.

    http://webkit.o2online.ie/ideasroom/2010/04/can-linkedin-be-a-valuable-tool-for-my-business/#more-1809

    Thanks again,
    Elaine @ O2 ideas room

  12. Very well said. When it comes to making and keeping up with business connections, Linked In has one of the best features currently available in market, hands down. What makes Linked In different from Facebook and other Social Networks is that it’s extremely simplified when it comes to working your way out from a business perspective.

    Thanks,
    GT

  13. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.

  14. I agree. Linkedin is one way top generate leads. The network is composed of professionals with whom you can ask for advice and offer your services to.

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