Get Ready for LinkedIn Groups to Play a Larger Role in Your Leads

 

LinkedIn sent out a somewhat cryptic message earlier this month to the admins for groups on its platform, promising that the platform would finally integrate Groups “into the main LinkedIn experience.”

While there were no firm details about true integration, there are a couple big takeaways from the announcement and the focus that we think you should know for your leads and prospecting on the platform.

Were LinkedIn Groups Useful Before?

LinkedIn Groups are often pitched as an amazing place to meet and discuss and interact in an amazing set of ways. However, they often look like ghost towns with the same admins posting promotional items and not much discussion going on outside of that.

You can Google “are LinkedIn Groups dead?” and get results complaining of this starting back in the early 2010’s.

But that’s not the important part even if changes occur.

LinkedIn groups were amazing and still tend to be that way for prospecting. Why? Because the people who join them tend to be a little more active on the platform in general, in our experience. More use = being more responsive, and that means they likely have up-to-date profiles.

Lead targeting on the system needs people who have accurate information and are willing to interact with others. Groups point us in the right direction, so don’t discount them even as things change.

So, What Did LinkedIn Say?

The email we got from LinkedIn notes that “Groups is at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals” and that the company plans to make them more important and a bigger part of the normal interactions we have with the platform.

We expect the refocus to change the functionality of Groups, potentially make membership more useful for prospecting by allowing for greater interaction within Groups and between members.

Here are a few important details from LinkedIn:

  • Groups will be integrated into its main offerings, so they’ll have a more prominent place on the website and the apps.
  • The standalone app for Groups (which the company only mentions for iOS) is shutting down on February 15.
  • Existing memberships and Group contributions “will not be affected as part of that change.” This makes us think the move is going to shift some features to the broader LinkedIn experience and either make interactions more accessible or remove some the barriers that groups created to seeing and interacting with content.

From our perspective, everything bodes well for the future of Groups. They’ll play a bigger role in interactions and likely get more users to sign up for them. That means using Groups as your lead targeting pathway could become much more fruitful.

Changes Already Live

LinkedIn was a bit skimpy on the larger details, but it’s initial email was followed up quickly with another announcement that some features are ready and will be showing up in your feed anytime.

Now, you’ll start seeing notifications for social activities on your group posts, including likes, comments, and @mentions, and for membership activities, such as group invitations. Some real-time alerts will be available directly within the Notifications tab on the LinkedIn website and apps.

Those “@mentions” above include the ability to mention and tag someone by name in a variety of group activities, such as invites and posts or related comments. Again, this is to drive engagement and will ultimately make Groups a more valuable prospecting tool.

The next update we expect to go live will support more types of content in Groups, especially video posts, which are driving a ton of traffic to the site and interaction on it.

It’ll be a smart tactic if you pair prospecting with content marketing and thought leadership. Reach out to people based on group connections, and then tag those who either do or don’t accept. You’ve got a few different interactions that can get on their radar and lead to a more rewarding experience.

8 Smart Ways To Boost Your Brand On LinkedIn

Are you missing out on leads and business prospects because your LinkedIn branding is stale and uninspiring?

LinkedIn is used by more business professionals than almost any other network and has become a top channel for marketers to find new prospects, employees to find new jobs, and researchers to take the pulse of an industry.

At 470 million users, you’re facing an uphill battle when it comes to creating a profile that stands out so people are willing to connect with you and so you open new doors to grow your business.

But, that’s exactly why you’re here. We’ve dug through the research and practical work to figure out what works and share it with you.

So, here are 8 of the biggest things you can do to simply, easily, and effectively boost your LinkedIn brand for more successful connections.

Why LinkedIn Branding Matters

Before diving in, it’s important to take a moment and realize that your personal branding on LinkedIn has a lot to do with your reputation and how much you’re trusted.

In the old sales days, you built your reputation in your territory with face-to-face interactions, phone call follow-ups, and a note asking how the kids were doing or a card saying, “Happy Birthday!”

Today it takes different work to stand out, and most of are working on a nearly global market, so people tend to first meet you online. And, they often meet you before you ever interact.

So, your LinkedIn profile is a way you’re going to make a first impression — and we all know those count.

Even if you’re reaching out through InMail and messaging to cold and warm prospects, they’re more likely than not going to look at your profile before responding to your note. If your profile is flat, blank, or overly dull, that prospect’s door is never going to answer.

A smart LinkedIn profile is the best way to wedge your foot in the digital door and start up a conversation with your next lead.

Now, let’s get to improving that profile of yours.

1. Don’t Skimp On The Visuals

There are two main visuals on your LinkedIn page that will set it apart from others: your headshot and your profile’s backdrop.

Your headshot is present everywhere you go, from search results and posts to group lists and even how you appear on other people’s profiles. For marketers, remember this also shows up when you message someone.

LinkedIn says you’re 21-times more likely to be viewed if you have a LinkedIn photo. Here’s a quick little visual aid to understand why:

This is the “also viewed” list from my profile. Who would click on next?
Research says it likely won’t be Jennifer or Paul.

There are a few elements of the profile photo that seem intuitive — we all know a bad headshot when we see one.

Your goal is to come off as competent, likable, and influential. That tends to mean a bright photo where you’re the main focus and it is easy to see your face. Smiling is good, but not necessary, and you need your best duds.

If you’re stuck in this somewhat subjective process, it’s a worthwhile investment to hire a professional photographer to get a great shot.

Struggling to know which of your best shots to use? Try signing up for photofeeler, a community project where you vote on people’s LinkedIn photo options, and then they’ll vote on yours, helping you pick the one that’s best.

Your profile’s backdrop is less stringent and has fewer requirements to be successful. The best thing to do is to make sure it is a landscape photo so it isn’t resized oddly or made to look out of focus. Keep it relevant to your industry and company.

And, if you’ve got the space, it makes a perfect place to put a company logo, slogan, or your #1 promise.

2. Avoid Boring, Unimpressive Headlines

It’s great that you’re a project manager at BigNewThings Inc, but it shouldn’t be the focal point of your headline because it doesn’t mean much to a lead who has never heard of your company.

The headline is a place for you to immediately share what you can do for the prospect who is looking at your profile. (Hint: they can see your job title just by glancing down, so don’t waste the space by repeating information.)

Tell your prospect what you can do for them and why you’re different. You can also incorporate keywords in your headline.

There is some debate over keyword usage, so we actually recommend you include a description or keyword of your target market, as opposed to the best descriptor of your business.

One glance and any B2B manager, owner, or marketer knows that I specialize in making it easier for their company to perform and grow.

3. Show Us What You Can Do

It turns out those LinkedIn pop-ups about endorsing the skills of connections are a pretty big deal.

LinkedIn says that users who put at least 5 skills receive roughly 31 times more messages and are viewed 17 more times than people who don’t have such endorsements.

For your prospects, it is an easy way to signal to them that you understand their industry and their need. You have a quick, visual option to say: “I get your problems, I can solve them, and other people agree.”

And hey, look what pops up when you recommend someone — yeah, it’s that profile photo again, and it looks so much better to have a real photo than that default silhouette.

The latest LinkedIn update has made these even more important because it adds some qualifiers around the people who endorse you, including skill levels and connection.

 

Having others who are highly skilled endorse you makes the endorsements more believable and valuable.

4. Have Other People Tell Us What You Can Do

Building on the endorsements is another extremely valuable piece of real estate: The Recommendation.

This lets other people speak highly of you and gives the impression of an unbiased opinion because know we wouldn’t begrudgingly recommend someone we didn’t like to work with — there’s no upside to it.

Nearly 90% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. You’ve done this when you check out the Amazon reviews before you try something new.

LinkedIn recommendations are essentially the Amazon reviews of your business acumen, so start asking for them right away.

Statistically, the best time to ask for a recommendation is about 6 to 10 business days after the completion of a project.

5. Turn Your Slide Deck Into A Visual Sales Journey

LinkedIn’s purchase of SlideShare means you now have a completely integrated platform to upload your best presentation deck to share with others.

As an added benefit, search engines like Google are pulling information from these decks and returning them often on the first page of results because they’re targeted, timely, and are seen as coming from an authority site.

Your existing work can become a smart tool that shows you know your stuff and are doing well enough to present on important topics, data, and more. This section won’t necessarily get a lot of clicks, but having it on your profile gives you an immediate credence and credibility boost when people see it.

6. Publish On LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s Publisher blog platform is open to just about anyone and it is the best place to showcase yourself and your company as a thought leader. Your posts are shown on your profile, and a quick scan also shows if people are engaging with them.

The more you post, the more likely you are to drive higher engagement and get people familiar with you and your network. It’s an important part of being active on the service and making it easy for others to engage with you.

This section creates a snapshot of who you are and what you do on LinkedIn, which often translates into how helpful you are.

Again, Google is grabbing these posts as well, so you’ve got a clever way to introduce yourself and your company to potential connections that wouldn’t normally see you.

So, if they find you via a Google search and then read your post, they’ll likely click to see your profile and all the other elements we’ve reviewed so far will boost your chances for having someone else initiate the connection process.

7. Don’t Forget Other Relevant Media

Does your profile tell us how great of a speaker you are or how you’ve mastered all the leading equipment in your field?

Words often don’t equal proof. Connections and prospects want to see it to believe it.

LinkedIn now supports a variety of other media, like photos and videos, that can give your connections the proof they want.

If your skill is easy to demonstrate, grab a few photos of you doing it or record a video and share — videos are especially powerful for skills like presentations and team leadership.

They’re simple to add and allow prospects to judge what you say you can do fairly.

8. Build Out Your Group

While we often get advice about being present in other groups, it can quickly add up to a big commitment that leads to burnout. Groups aren’t always useful, and you don’t want to give up because it feels like you’re shouting into the void.

So, what’s a brand to do?

Start your own group and provide fresh content regularly. We always recommend crafting a group that targets your best audience and just aims to provide information.

You want to be the person with the answers, not the person with the annoying sales pitch.

If you spend just a few minutes each morning or each week to create something useful, people will appreciate it.

You’re not going to create a 100% conversion rate of group participants to customers, but you’ll likely answer someone’s question today and be on the top of their mind when they’ve got a question tomorrow.

Bonus: Create A Call To Action

Think about what you someone to do after they look at your profile.

Now, take a look at your profile and see if you’ve asked them to do that anywhere.

To get messages, connections, calls, website visits, or whatever else you need, you must ask. LinkedIn profiles are a personal landing page. And we all know that the #1 rule of a good landing page is to have a clear, direct call-to-action.

If you don’t have a CTA, you’re missing opportunities at every view.

All of this and more is covered in our full marketing and management platform for businesses like yours. But, I don’t believe in starting off with a hard sell because businesses deserve a little help getting started.

Let me prove to you that the 7 Figure Automation service really works by starting you off with a 55-Point Marketing Audit and provide the insights you need to run your business more efficiently, effectively, and profitably. Get yours now.

7 Smart Ways To Create Sales Opportunities At Trade Shows


Are those business cards on your desk still collecting dust? Or perhaps that stack of flyers you passed out didn’t generate any leads?

At tradeshows most of us fall victim to the easy, but least effective, prospecting techniques: Handing out business cards, passing out flyers and collecting business cards for raffles.

And it gets worse.

We give prospects our business card, hoping that they’ll contact us… But they never do.

It should be your goal to break this pattern, stand out and create a compelling reason for your prospect to take action on the spot!

Trade shows have a culture of their own. It’s brimming with loud music, inspiring vision and hallways packed with world-class marketers creating a better future.

So, it’s important to capitalize on these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

This doesn’t mean you should look at everyone as if they’re a dollar sign – but let’s face it, sales matter.

And since it can be challenging to determine the ROI of your presence at these events, leaving without closed sales makes it difficult for your company to justify investing in future conventions.

That’s why on-site selling is not only important, it’s practical! People are there to see what YOU can do to set their business on fire (figuratively of course).

Capitalize on the emotional momentum that the trade show is creating for you. People are more motivated and open-minded here than they are at the office, surrounded by distractions. Use these seven smart ways to create sales opportunities at trade shows.

1) Reserve A Room Near The Trade Show Floor

Reserving a room can be a very important logistical detail. It eliminates distractions and creates an environment where decisions are natural.

Tradeshows are incredibly noisy and distracting. You may be able to rattle off an answer to a potential client or shoot them a quick sales pitch, but due to noise, you may not be able to thoroughly answer questions or get them to make a decision.

Having a quiet space and privacy can assist you in making authentic personal connections. It allows you to hear about your potential client’s problems, and genuinely discuss how they can be resolved—as a team.

In addition to having a booth, you should reserve a room that’s near the trade show floor so you can talk about prices, details and ultimately close the deal. This will give you a chance to pull aside folks that are genuinely interested and have a real, authentic, in-depth discussion.

2) Rehearse Your Elevator Pitch

At any event, you really have about 30 seconds (or less) before you lose the attention of your guest.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to nail down your 30-second elevator pitch before you arrive. An effective pitch is a short overview of what your product or service does, and how it can help the individual or their business.

For example:

“7 Figure Automation is a digital marketing company that helps B2B companies fill their sales pipeline so they can focus on running their business.”

You want listeners to be informed and interested, but you also want them to engage and ask questions too. Which is why a private room can come in handy.

3) Attract Attendees With Unique Content

You only have about 10 seconds to capture the attention of people passing by before they become disinterested.

Every company wants their spotlight and many will pay thousands of dollars to achieve it. But most company booths look the same.

When planning your event look beyond boilerplate videos and run of the mill brochures. Find something that’s going to grab their attention and hook them right away.

For example, at a recent sales conference, we knew that we only had a short amount of time to grab people’s attention. There were many other companies at the trade show, so we needed to figure out a way to stand out from the rest. To do this, we displayed a giant white elephant at our booth (which was connected to our problem-solving campaign of addressing the white elephant in the room).

This alone slowed foot traffic to our booth, especially when combined with large screens displaying funny, interactive videos that also tied in with our campaign message. These two pieces of content kept people’s interest long enough so that we could have in-depth discussions with them.

Making sure your content leads to a sale is your next step!

Once your content draws people in – whether it’s a video, fun display, unique signage etc. — it should grab people’s attention enough to slow them down so you’re able to show how your service benefits their end goal. This also gives you an excuse to bring up even more content as well.

Testimonials, content, pricing information, case studies – you name it! Prove to them that you can provide outstanding value.

4) Research Companies In Attendance To Leverage Sales

Knowing which people and companies are attending is incredibly beneficial. Checkout RSVPs on Facebook events or the trade show website to learn who’s going to be there.

If you’re a B2B company that sees a lot of professionals from the same industry are joining, ensure that your sales pitch, or even your materials speak to that niche.

5) Use Calls-To-Action To Maximize Engagement

In your trade show marketing you should always be asking attendees to complete some form of action. To increase sales on-site, you need to make sure you connect the call-to-action in all of your marketing to something they can do AT the event.

Don’t have them just leave their business card in a fish bowl – have them do something ASAP—right then, right there.

Getting a business card is great, but it’s not going increase your chances of getting a sale. Rather, schedule their meeting on the spot or have them enter their contact details into your CRM system – instead of sorting through dusty business cards on your desk the following week.

6) Develop Connections Before, During And After The Event

To get the most out of your sales presence during trade shows, let people know that you’ll actually be there.

This could be a simple series of social media posts, or something more intricate like an email campaign.

The more people you can connect with beforehand, the better! For some people it’s easier to answer emails, or write messages on LinkedIn.

Connecting beforehand can prime them for potential sales opportunities. You could even prepare something specific for their industry ahead of time.

After all, hard work is what it’s going to take.

During the event you should continue the social engagement – post on social media using the event hash tag, and look for people interacting with that hash tag as well.

But remember to be authentic.

The last thing you want is to come across as too pushy and seem like a sales robot. Simply make a connection. If they aren’t interested, don’t try and force them into something that they don’t want.

The best you can do is deliver your message and let them know how you can benefit them. The rest is in their hands. If you come across as polite, professional and convincing, they might just come back when the time is right.

7) Ask Yourself These Questions

Trade shows are an opportunity to learn and network with your industry leaders. After the event, ask yourself the following questions to get the most value:

What did I do well?

We’re often too hard on ourselves, but there’s likely something you’re proud of, so understand your strengths. This could be your visual presentation, or maybe the way you handled a certain potential client.

Nonetheless, this is a very important way to do some self-reflection.

What did I learn?

Teachable moments are everywhere, you could be a conference veteran, but there still will be things you learn from each one.

This could be something as deep as how to dispel common myths about your industry or something as simple as the new automation trick you learned.

Even the small things add up. Whether it’s big or small, focus on the “aha” moments during the trade show.

What could I improve upon?

Could your collateral have done a better job explaining your service or product? Or maybe you could have done a better job scheduling appointments on-site.

These three questions will keep you on track and move you forward. Self-reflection is an important part of growing, learning and improving.

These tips can work for any conference that you find yourself attending. Securing on-site sales is not only key, it’s incredibly rewarding!

Making long-term connections and growing as a businessperson, is equally fun, adventurous and satisfying. So, use these tips to grow and leverage experiences with world-class marketers.

7 Smart Ways To Create Sales Opportunities At Trade Shows