LinkedIn - The Value You May Not Realize

LinkedIn logo
LinkedIn is essential to your profession
Welcome to any first time visitor, and welcome back to returning technical sales professionals. I specifically target those in the process measurement and control industry, but anyone in tech sales will likely find some value in this article. The CMS4i blog has, for a few weeks now, been moving in the direction of providing an understanding of how various social media applications and channels can provide a boost to your discoverability in the digital world (here is the first blog in the series). I try to push aside the esoteric, mystical, and sensational, choosing instead to focus on the real purpose of your business. Activities and knowledge that will directly work toward providing technical sales professionals with revenue generating opportunities are what we want.

But there is a deeper dimension

Of course, there is. Let's look at LinkedIn, the premiere social media site for business professionals, and see what kind of impact it can have on your company's success, as well as your own. There are many professionals still without a LinkedIn presence, and probably just as many that have opened a free LinkedIn account and really do not understand how it can be useful to them. I am going to make a statement that you should keep in mind, always, about LinkedIn.

Nobody is going to place an order with you through LinkedIn.

The purpose of social media is not to get purchase orders. The purpose of social media, for you, my tech sales pro comrade, is twofold:
  1. Get found.
  2. When found, deliver a positive impression or message, showing the potential customer that you are a serious and engaged professional worthy of consideration as a valuable business contact.
It's not rocket science, but LinkedIn can be rocket fuel for boosting your image and position in the business sphere in which you operate. In business today, if you want to know about somebody, you check out their LinkedIn profile. Search engines index LinkedIn profiles, which is a very strong part of "getting found" for you personally, and your company. Your LinkedIn profile provides a means for you to tell your story in your own words. There is more to this powerful business networking and social media app, but let's take a step back, start from ground zero with LinkedIn.

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a business networking application that provides pathways for users to search for other professionals and make business appropriate connections. It generally consists of member profiles, company pages, and member groups. It is intended to be, and is strongly maintained as, a professional environment for business only. Members form connections, based upon common interest or business related activity, that are used to share information and seek out additional connections.

How Can LinkedIn Help Build My Business?

You may not be using LinkedIn much, but it is very likely those in your business sphere are. When you are introduced to someone, or your name arises in their activities, most professionals will search for you on LinkedIn and form an opinion of whether a business relationship with you might be of value. This, tech sales pro, is where I feel compelled to point out, so there is no confusion, that LinkedIn will be used by many of your potential customers to determine if they want to meet with you to discuss upcoming projects and purchase plans. Your potential customers, just like you, would like to work with a highly qualified, engaged, professional that can bring real added value to a business relationship. A prospect viewing your profile that does not like what they see, or does not find any profile for you, will likely continue their search and never contact you. Whether this is fair, or smart, on their part is not a point worth arguing. It has become the operating method for many professionals and organizations because it works for them. Make it work for you. 

Your profile is important.....very important, but there is another aspect to LinkedIn that you can use to great advantage. As well as being discovered in the searches of others, you can search for people on LinkedIn. When you find a person you are looking for, you can attempt to form a connection with them. You can also see how you may be connected to them through someone you already know. This is an incredibly powerful function, but be careful how you employ it. Spamming, and other shenanigans are not looked upon favorably by the LinkedIn community. Misbehave and you may be shunned in any number of ways, not the least of which is getting kicked out by LinkedIn. 

You can continue to build your profile over time by adding notable accomplishments. Another way to enhance your profile is through sharing relevant and interesting information with your connections by posting it to your page. This shows heightened engagement in your industry and helps to get you noticed.

Sum It All Up

LinkedIn provides you a way to tell your professional story to anyone that finds your profile page. Everything you do on LinkedIn will reflect on your professional brand, giving you the opportunity to continually build a reputation as someone worth knowing, and contacting, in your field. LinkedIn is about people, not products. Your goal with this application should be to:
  1. Continue to update and build a professional profile.
  2. Make connections with business related contacts.
  3. Continue to find and share quality content with your connections.
  4. Find other ways to provide value to those with whom you are connected.
Sounds easy, right? Move into LinkedIn gradually, but steadily. In future posts, I will cover profiles, connections, and other aspects of LinkedIn in more detail. Start by setting up a free account and creating your profile. Connect with a few people you know well (perhaps some personal friends) and let them know you are in the learning phase, so they will forgive your missteps and help you. Get a feel for how it all works, then proceed to build connections.

Follow, comment, contact me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we are here to help you make things work, so contact us anytime. (I know I have this same message at the end of every blog, but I really mean it!)