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December 14, 2022
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. Two sales reps walk into a bar…uhhh, a local networking event.
You manage a few conversations that lead to followups and some calls. But many attendees aren’t interested in a hard sell or ready to buy yet—if ever at all.
Sound familiar? Networking events, conferences and random referrals might keep you above water, but they’re not a very scalable way to grow.
Let me introduce you to LinkedIn social selling, the art of using social skills and your online reputation to generate not just more leads, but more better leads.
In this guide, we’ll overview the best ways to optimize your LinkedIn presence and improve your LinkedIn social selling for lead generation.
We’ll outline what social selling is and how LinkedIn is a great platform for it. Then we’ll cover LinkedIn social selling best practices like boosting your LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn networking, how to do LinkedIn content marketing and creating LinkedIn posts to show off your expertise.
With this LinkedIn guide for generating leads, watch your LinkedIn outreach metrics skyrocket!
LinkedIn social selling for generating leads isn’t complex nor a fancy new concept. It’s simply the modern-day version of classic relationship building.
Social selling leverages traditional, relationship-based selling tactics to build and nurture connections.
A LinkedIn social selling strategy involves posting great content, interacting with your connections and shaping your professional brand to improve lead generation.
With social selling, you passively engage your audience via the platforms they visit. Traditional selling relies more on one-size-fits-all approaches to rush a sale without the reinforcement of a strong online reputation.
The key is to use LinkedIn to make yourself likable to your audience and establish your authority with expertise & insights.
So if social selling is so impactful and sales reps need every trick they can find to generate more leads, can social selling on LinkedIn work?
LinkedIn’s advertising reach exceeds 800 million people and of its roughly 185 million users, almost half are active monthly & about 30 million are active at least daily.
Sheer size doesn’t necessarily speak to relevance. But LinkedIn is perfect for businesses that target professional service providers & entrepreneurs.
For instance, over 90% of leads that B2B companies generate involve at least one LinkedIn touchpoint. And LinkedIn ads produce about 300% more B2B & professional leads than Facebook ads.
So who is LinkedIn for? LinkedIn is a great lead-generation opportunity for the following segments:
Many B2B buyers use LinkedIn for their own professional development & networking. If you sell to other businesses, a strong LinkedIn profile will benefit you.
One example of a B2B company with a fantastic LinkedIn presence is Dropbox.
With 400,000+ followers, they use LinkedIn to promote their brand and drive interest in their software product to better outreach to leads.
Showing off your company culture is a great example of LinkedIn social selling. Dropbox does this well via themed posts that use the hashtag #LifeInsideDropbox.
This activity makes your company more personable and your sales reps more relatable, improving the quality of your pipeline.
If you’re in financial services, you might not promote yourself to B2B buyers, but LinkedIn is still a robust lead-generation channel. Investment advisors, fund managers and stock brokers sell to advanced professionals. Y’know, typical LinkedIn users.
According to marketing influencer & SparkToro cofounder Rand Fishkin, going to where your audience is presents “the best marketing opportunities, full stop.”
To succeed, establish familiarity & trust, distribute valuable content and create a likable brand. These criteria are the hallmarks of social selling. Meeting this criteria is how to find more quality leads from LinkedIn.
Examples of financial advisors with strong LinkedIn profiles include Michael Kitces and Thomas Wyszynski.
Kitces, of Buckingham Wealth Partners that oversees about $50 billion in client assets, engages his 50k+ LinkedIn followers to showcase his online brand and cross-promote his industry blog, Nerd’s Eye View.
And Baystate Financial’s Wyszynski does the little things right: building out his profile, interacting with connections & followers and posting industry advice & news.
Both approaches cultivate reputations to optimize LinkedIn outreach when searching for new clients.
How many times have you struggled to find a freelance marketer, a website designer, an accounting firm or a business consultant?
These are common pain points among LinkedIn users. Whether you run a marketing agency or work as a business coach, your target audience is on LinkedIn too. The more they see high-quality content, the more receptive and ready to buy they’ll be when you engage them.
One agency that generates brand awareness on LinkedIn well is Beam Content.
This content agency employs strong messaging on their LinkedIn page, from a value proposition in their header image to a creative tagline.
What really sets them apart is the strategic presence of cofounder Brooklin Nash. He developed a large following thanks to posting viral-ready content, like jokes that show off his personality.
Nash helped his agency more than double projected annual revenue to around $2 million in six months and with little more than a half-dozen people.
We know that LinkedIn and social selling make excellent bedfellows. Use LinkedIn to show your authority, expertise and trustworthiness and you’ll never struggle to outreach to leads.
But how can you wield social selling on LinkedIn? We’ll discuss four areas to focus on to improve your social selling and connect with more quality leads in this LinkedIn guide for lead generation.
To grow your pipeline and increase revenue with LinkedIn, you can’t throw paint on a wall. Randomly posting thoughts, adding connections for no reason, sharing stories with no purpose—these won’t get you very far.
That’s why you need a paint-by-numbers…uhhh, a strategy.
Here are the top four things to improve for a LinkedIn lead-generation strategy:
You need a great brand on LinkedIn that potential leads can trust. Your LinkedIn presence, conveyed through your profile, tells LinkedIn users who you are.
Are you the real deal? Do you have the expertise you claim you do? Are you authentic? Is your agency or business worthy of doing the job? Are you someone I’d have a beer with?
These are all questions that your brand—the sense of authority and reassurance your digital self gives off—answers for people. When you outreach to potential leads, a profile that showcases a professional brand will boost connection and close rates.
Potential buyers take notice of a strong brand. When people feel that your brand connects with them, 57% spend more and 76% will choose you over a competitor.
So how can you improve your LinkedIn profile to establish your expertise and start social selling like a pro? Let’s look at some examples.
Dave Gerhardt is a longtime LinkedIn influencer who checks off all the boxes for a great profile. So when he engages with leads for his business, he doesn’t have to pitch himself very hard.
A former marketing executive turned entrepreneur, Gerhardt’s venture, Exit Five, is a subscription-based online community for B2B marketers.
What makes his LinkedIn profile so effective?
The hallmark of LinkedIn social selling is networking and creating connections. Without expanding your network, you can’t develop your brand and generate leads.
A robust network enables not only more outreach opportunities but improved visibility metrics. More connections means more people amplifying your content and more people to engage with.
So how can you build your network? The secret to making connections on LinkedIn is to personalize connection requests and comment on posts often.
For example, I received a compelling LinkedIn lead-generation message from a G2 sales rep recently. They riffed on my tongue-in-cheek job description of, “Some people call me the content guy, the SEO guy or the website guy; but my coworkers just call me the ‘guy in office.’”
By referencing something unique about a person, you prove that you’ve done your research and are trying to add genuine value.
A good tip when deciding which users to target for your LinkedIn network is to find people already connected to your existing network. Having a mutual connection will improve your success rate—just make sure the new connection fits your target audience.
And don’t hesitate to comment on and share others’ posts. It sparks conversations and increases close rates & revenue.
Finally, browse relevant LinkedIn Groups.
How to use LinkedIn Groups for lead generation? Connect with others on pages dedicated to the types of content interesting to your audience. Post regularly in these groups, produce thought leadership and respond to other comments to establish your reputation.
If you’re really ambitious, you can curate your own Group to spearhead dialogues and exhibit your thought leadership.
A great example of this strategy is the LinkedIn Group Wealth Partner, managed by Mark & Karen Williamson of the marketing agency Infinity Marketing Pros.
With almost 20,000 members, Wealth Partner is an excellent illustration of LinkedIn social selling. It allows the Williamsons to show their expertise and network with those in a field they service themselves: wealth management.
If you want a great reputation on LinkedIn for optimal lead generation, there’s no way around it: you need content marketing.
B2B buyers and advanced professionals make up the largest chunks of LinkedIn’s audience. Research shows that they crave industry news and complex business topics made simple.
By creating engaging content that meets these demands, you can establish your expertise and build your professional brand by providing value. With LinkedIn content marketing, you’ll earn your audience’s trust and generate more high-quality leads.
Don’t take my word for here. Here’s SparkToro’s VP of Marketing, Amanda Natividad, raving about the potential of content marketing on LinkedIn.
Granted, you might have some questions. But don’t you have to publish content every day—doesn’t it take a lot of time? And how do I develop content? I’m not a writer!
The fact is, there are no set rules for LinkedIn content marketing success. Yes, a consistent cadence helps, but once you get over the hump, it’ll feel natural like any new habit. By following best practices, you can optimize your LinkedIn content game without an English degree.
Here are three tips for great content marketing on LinkedIn:
It’s as true today as it was when Aristotle said it circa 335 B.C.E.: humans naturally covet stories.
To connect with your audience, how you say what you say is as important as what you say. List a bunch of ideas and insights? That’s okay. Create a narrative as a vehicle to share your thoughts? Now we’re cookin’!
How do you create a narrative on LinkedIn? Erica Schneider, an expert in content writing, lays out two simple principles: 1. Delineate ideas logically from points A to D; and 2. Be bold.
We see an example of content marketing on LinkedIn from Camille Trent, Director of Content & Community at PeerSignal. She’s telling the story of her first months at a new job as part of a concept called “building in public,” sharing playbooks and strategies publicly in real time.
She explains what she’s doing with a narrative that readers connect to and an arc that extends from an introduction into body content. It’s all even part of a series of posts to come!
And there’s no denying that “building in public” is bold; it’s honest, relatable and vulnerable.
Any strategy for LinkedIn content marketing includes writing articles on LinkedIn Pulse. Longform content enables you to stand out to audiences who crave learning new things about complex business ideas.
LinkedIn Pulse is the name of LinkedIn’s publishing platform for articles, which can be longer than a basic post but, like posts, are shared on people’s feeds since 2014 when LinkedIn Pulse was made available to all users and not just established influencers.
Think of articles on LinkedIn Pulse as blog posts that complement regular LinkedIn posts. They’re hosted on LinkedIn, integrated into your LinkedIn activity and displayed to your followers the same way posts are.
You can also leverage LinkedIn articles to repurpose existing content for more exposure and leads.
Sumo summarized an example of this tactic by looking at the case study of marketer Gregory Ciotti. He republished 35 blog posts on LinkedIn Pulse in one month, generating over 255,000 views.
Ciotti customized the content for LinkedIn, adding blurbs about his company with backlinks and inserting a unique call-to-action (CTA) to each LinkedIn article.
By tailoring each CTA, Ciotti gave himself runway to pitch targeted value propositions to his LinkedIn audience.
The most direct way to excel at social selling and improve lead generation on LinkedIn is…to post. It’s that simple.
Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. Maybe you won’t ever get as big as the most successful influencers in your field. But you won’t make any progress if you don’t publish posts at least a couple of times a week.
A little extra credibility and visibility are still better than nothing.
“But what do I post about?” This is always the biggest hesitation, yet it might be the easiest one to overcome. That’s because your industry knowledge is already a treasure trove for topic ideas.
Reflect on what you discuss with leads and clients. What questions do they ask? What do they not know that they come to you for? What LinkedIn influencers do they follow and what topics do those influencers share?
Study posts from those influencers for ideas. You can also check out SparkToro to find them and where else they publish for extra help.
And tools like BuzzSumo are great for discovering content ideas, as are keyword-research tools like Ahrefs. (Even though search-engine optimization shouldn’t be a top concern with LinkedIn posts, keyword research still helps with relevant content ideation.)
You have to write regular posts on LinkedIn to establish your reputation and generate more leads. But how can you write killer posts consistently enough to make a positive difference?
In other words, what strategic tactics can you seize to start social selling like an expert and optimize results?
Include multimedia for diversity and to improve your odds of success. A great LinkedIn hack is to add images to posts.
Research shows that LinkedIn posts with images produce better results than text-only posts. For instance, LinkedIn posts with even just a stock photo can increase engagement by up to 650%.
Visuals can be impactful because text-only posts are more forgettable without a strong-enough hook to compensate. Many people forget them within three days, with only about 10% retaining the brand or the message in their minds.
One awesome example of LinkedIn posts that feature compelling multimedia comes from Stewart Hillhouse, Head of Content at Mutiny. Hillhouse films interviews at conferences & industry events and edits them into LinkedIn video posts.
Have they been successful? Hillhouse reflected on the posts by suggesting the idea can generate millions of dollars of potential revenue.
But at the risk of pushing monotonous content, you shouldn’t rely only on multimedia-heavy posts. After all, LinkedIn influencers excel by sharing ideas—this isn’t Instagram or TikTok.
Notice how above I mentioned a strong hook as a possible workaround here. If you command people’s attention with memorable text, you might never have to pick up a video recorder.
Take a look at PeerSignal CEO’s Adam Schoenfeld’s posts. Every week, he shares a resource from his company to his network via a Linkedin post.
Does he write each post as a basic summary of the resource he’s sharing? Not exactly. Heck, he doesn’t even lead with a high-level description, let alone explaining what he’s doing (e.g, “New post here, check it out!”).
He starts with a story about his personal experience upgrading Airtable, even using the attention-grabbing line “I was happy to pay.”
The spreadsheet he’s sharing in the LinkedIn post isn’t even about Airtable. All he’s doing is writing a hook to compel readers to engage and share.
The goal for optimal lead generation on LinkedIn via social selling is to cement your reputation and become memorable. That means keeping the focus on the content of your posts instead of what you’re selling.
Remember to drive awareness and generate interest. The “selling” can come later when you do actual outreach.
That’s the foundation of a growing movement on LinkedIn called “Zero-Click Content,” founded by Amanda Nativaad.
Zero-Click Content encourages marketers and sales reps to provide more valuable standalone insights without linking out anywhere. And if you are intentionally repping a link, like a blog post, then consider adding it as a comment so the LinkedIn post itself can serve as a teaser.
The idea is premised on the belief that LinkedIn decreases the reach of promotional posts. LinkedIn wants users to stay on their platform. If you’re going to plug something that takes users away, LinkedIn would prefer you pay for advertising.
You can flip this situation to your advantage. Design LinkedIn posts to provide more organic value to your audience. Now you can build credibility for your online reputation to master LinkedIn lead generation.
Lead generation on LinkedIn can be daunting but also rewarding and highly efficient if done right.
To build your brand and improve the success rate of LinkedIn lead-generation messages, enhance your profile, network with connections, do LinkedIn content marketing and optimize your posts.
When B2B companies, financial advisors and agencies & consultancies execute these tactics and engage in social selling on LinkedIn, they create trust with audiences and establish credibility in their field.
This means your outreach campaigns will yield more high-quality leads for your business. You can automate outreach with a LinkedIn lead-generation service to further boost results, improve lead targeting, send tailored messages and reach out to the right people with confidence.
Now watch your lead generation on LinkedIn flourish and your sales pipeline start to burst!