LinkedIn can be the secret weapon of a clued up sales professional. With some 347 million users spanning over 200 countries the opportunity to reach out to potential customers is huge on this network. Done right, your networking will get you leads and boost sales. But is your profile set up for social selling? Here are 10 pointers to get you started.

  • Build your profile with your target market in mind – Your LinkedIn profile should be tailored to your customer base, not based on your own personal interests. Essentially it’s a tool for being found by the people you want to do business with. For example, if you are targeting the legal market you will need to make sure you are using keywords from the legal, as well as sales, industries so that the right people find you (i.e. prospects in the legal sector).
  • Be clear about what you do – One of the first things people see is your title. You need to catch the eye of prospects, tell them exactly what you do and how you can help them. It’s a good idea to insert your specialisms. Avoid tacky and meaningless job titles like ‘sales ninja’ , ‘marketing guru’ and ‘digital prophet’. No one on LinkedIn is looking for a ninja – well, probably not.
  • A vanity URL – Instantly improve the SEO of your profile by creating a relevant URL. Change all the random numbers to your own name followed by a keyword(s) that’s relevant to your target market. For example I would pick uk.linkedin.com/in/hfarneyitsales. Plus it looks much slicker to have your own name.
  • Contact details – You’ve set up your profile so that it attracts the right people only to be let down by your out of date contact details. Madness! Make sure you keep these updated and include your office number, direct dial, email address, Skype address and mobile if applicable. It’s also a good idea to put your Twitter handle here, if you have a regularly updated Twitter account.
  • Endorsements – This is the part of your profile where people ‘endorse’ you for skills – business development, cloud computing, account management – which give you credibility and outline your areas of expertise. However, less is more here. Don’t let your ego get in the way and do be selective. You should have around 10 highly relevant endorsements on your profile –  you do not look like a specialist if you can do everything.
  • Recommendations – I absolutely love this feature on LinkedIn profiles. What better way to prove to potential customers that you’ve got the goods? Use them to demonstrate what benefits you can add and that people are happy with the service you provide. Think of it as ‘social proof.’ I’ve also found that most people are more than happy to recommend you – all you need to do is ask.
  • Do not add everyone! – Adding every Tom, Dick or Harry tarnishes your credibility by making you look desperate. Be selective and look for people who can really add value to your LinkedIn activity – like potential prospects and industry influencers, innovators and experts who can keep you up to date with what’s going on in your industry. You may think 1000+ connections makes you look good but actually it’s a waste of time and this isn’t school: there’s no reward for looking like you have loads of friends.
  • Add honours and awards – Sounds obvious and I’m sure you’d never miss this out but it has to be said – if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Again, it’s another opportunity for you to install confidence in a potential prospect.
  • Don’t forget your birthday! – Adding your birthday is great because many of your customers will wish you happy returns and bingo – you have an instant conversation starter. It’s just another way of keeping in the loop with customers. Plus, it works the other way too – make sure you wish your customers happy birthday back!
  • Expert posts – Your posts should attract your target market and make you look like an expert. Think about what your customers would find interesting or funny. Get clued up on your target market.

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