Marketing expert Alex Pirouz, very kindly shared a chapter written by himself for the book Getting Your Business LinkedIn by Kizzi Nkwocha.
Written by Alex Pirouz
Founded by Reid Hoffman in 2002, LinkedIn has grown to 161 million members in over 200 countries, making it the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.
Currently available in 44 countries and 17 languages LinkedIn remains a relevant platform the world over. Due to the professional nature of its users, the platform keeps a low platform, however LinkedIn is proving to be a powerful influence and resource for companies, individuals and brands all over the world.
This useful yet underutilized resource can become one of the most powerful marketing channels within any business regardless of industry if properly executed.
In order to achieve this outcome there are certain steps one must take >>>
Step 1: Design
Step 2: Build
Step 3: Monetize
Within this chapter my aim is to share with you insights and learning’s within the three different stages to give you an overview of what is required to successfully execute your business objectives.
Stage 1: Design
Just like anything in life, building a solid foundation is the backbone to it being successful. You wouldn’t build a house without first laying the foundation or framework, you wouldn’t start a business without first conducting market research and developing an effective LinkedIn campaign is no different.
There are many steps required in order for you to build a solid foundation but none more important then knowing your objective and outcome for using LinkedIn. It's like getting in the car and driving without any destination or direction as to where you are heading too.
I see so many business owners use LinkedIn because they hear or see other business owners using it. This usually results in them building a profile that is not 100 percent with no clarity as to how to best monetize it which usually ends with them doing nothing with it moving forward.
So before you create your profile or continue to build your network, gain some clarity around your LinkedIn strategy by asking yourself one simple yet profound question:
1. What is my outcome in using LinkedIn?
Knowing your outcome will help you strategize who you need to connect with in order to make that come into fruition. For instance, if you operate a Sales Company and your outcome is to increase your customer base your strategy would be completely different to if you wanted to gain media exposure for your organization.
You would target two different types of connections. To increase your customer base you would be connecting with business owners and entrepreneurs but to get media exposure you would be connecting with Journalist and editors.
With this in mind you can now move forward knowing everything you do needs to be aligned to achieving that outcome. The next step is to ensure you have a compelling and complete profile to give yourself the best possible chance to build your network.
LinkedIn is very different to other marketing efforts you may have delivered within your business in the past. Most marketing strategies out there focus on the PUSH concept. Marketing to prospective client the benefits of their product, reputation of the company and thirdly the people behind the company. Whilst this may be successful off line, in order to be successful online you need to develop what I call the PULL strategy.
This is the process of selling yourself first, then your company and then the product you have to offer. Let’s face it we all like to buy products from people we like, in fact sometimes when making a purchasing decision I have decided to buy a product that is up to $50 more expensive because I had a better experience with the company and their staff.
To create a good first impression there are certain things one must do to their LinkedIn profile >>>
1. Ensure your profile is 100 percent complete by going through the LinkedIn step by step user guide
2. Have a professional photo displayed for your profile picture
3. Have a professional company email address rather then a personal account you may have with Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail.
4. Get a minimum of 30 recommendations written from past and present clients to establish credibility and experience in your field of trade
5. Build long term relationship rather then sell existing and new connections
6. Upgrade your account to the “Business” which shows a level of seriousness you have towards your LinkedIn presence
7. Ensure you have an updated “Summary” within your profile page
8. Be proactive in building your network, showcasing you have a large network builds credibility, trust and longevity. Reaching a level whereby your profile shows 500+ can have you viewed influential in your industry
9. Ensure your profile page is structured in a way that creates flow and consistency. You can do this by going to Profile and in the scroll down menu clicking on Profile Organizer.
10. Write your profile from a third part perspective to showcase authority and a powerful presence.
11. Don't advertise your current position with headlines like ‘helping clients win more business’. Instead use your name, title and business name
12. Personalize your public profile URL by clicking the edit link a the top of your profile page
13. Ensure your brand message is consistent throughout your entire profile
And last but not least, start every connection; every conversation and every meeting with the mindset of how you can best add value to your network rather than the classic “what’s in it for me approach”. This will open up more doors and build greater levels of engagement within individuals throughout your community.
Stage 2: Build
With the foundation firmly set and a clear understanding of what you’re looking to achieve as a result of using LinkedIn it’s now time to start building your network of contacts. To ensure you successfully execute this stage I have structured the action steps required into four different stages.
This is the part where you identify who you want to connect with. When doing this it is extremely important to get as specific as possible. Below is a list of things you need to identify >>>
1. Business Status: Are they a business owner, entrepreneur, manager etc
2. Industry: What industry are they classified to be operating in
3. Country, State & Suburb: Getting specific on the exact location
4. Size: The size of the company in terms of number of employees
Once you have identified these important aspects you are now ready to go to the next stage: Segmentation
Segmenting your LinkedIn connections before you start building your network will save you time, money and a migraine moving forward. LinkedIn provides users the capability to segment their connections based on their preference and relationship with each contact in their network.
For instance within your network you may want to have friends, colleagues, family and business partners but you don't necessarily want to have them mixed in with new connections.
By going to the contacts section within your LinkedIn Profile you will be able to create, manage and tag existing and new contacts into certain folders to ensure the right message is sent to the right people within those specific folders.
Again the more specific you can be the greater your level of effectiveness will be when looking to market and communicate your message with your contacts.
Most people in business and life in general don’t plan to fail they fail to plan. Whilst you may know exactly who your target market is and have the systems in place to best utilize your effectiveness with your network; without adequate planning all your efforts will go to waste.
Below are some things you should be aware of when planning your LinkedIn invitations >>>
1. Daily Invite Limit: LinkedIn allows you to send out 72 invites a day before they ask you to put in a security question every time you add a new person.
2. Account Limit: LinkedIn provide each member a maximum amount of 3000 invites per account. You can find out how many invites you have left by clicking on the contacts tab and scrolling to the bottom right hand side.
3. Best days & Times: From my experience the best times to send out invitation are either 9:30am-11:30am or 9:30pm-11:30pm Sunday to Thursday. Friday and Saturdays are not a good time; results may vary depending on your industry.
4. Responding: On average for every 72 invites you send out per day you will usually get 10-15 percent responding back to you to further the conversation. Friday and Saturday’s should be allocated to responding to messages and invitation requests.
By this stage you have identified, segmented and planned your LinkedIn strategy now its time to start building your network. There are two ways you can do this >>>
Quick search >>>
Within these pages there will be two different types of profiles. There will be people who you are connected with already in which case their will be a blue box on the right hand side of their name stating: ‘MESSAGE’.
Those who you are not yet connected with will display a blue box also on the right hand side of their name but this time the word displayed is: ‘CONNECT’.
By clicking on this box it will take you to a page enabling you to connect with that individual. Continue this same process for others populated within your search field bearing in mind the tips provided as above.
Advanced Search >>>
The advanced search function can be found on the home page on the far top right hand corner next to the search box. This function provides you the ability to get more specific in terms of the individuals you would like to search and connect with. If you are looking to build relationship that are a lot more niche this is the best function to use given that it allows you to search by: company size, person’s title, seniority level, title and as specific as postcode. This function is best utilized through a premium ‘Business’ account.
When connecting with individuals ensure your message is personalized rather then the generic message created by LinkedIn as this tends to upset a lot of people on the receiving end, which can result in LinkedIn restricting your account by only allowing you to connect with people with whom you have their email address.
Stage 3: Execute
The last and final stage within your LinkedIn marketing campaign is Execution.
So far you have successfully designed and built your network of contacts consisting of media contacts, potential joint venture partners and customers. It’s now time to extract value from that network and inject it into your current business activities.
Something to keep in mind before moving forward, I would suggest to only continue with the execution stage if you have managed to build a database of 500+ excluding your previous connections. This will help to track and measure your results properly.
Based on my experience and as mentioned previously the business landscape has changed dramatically as a result of social media and the information age. In this day age people tend to buy you, your company and then your product. When
Regardless of whether you are connecting with Journalist, joint venture partners or customers this stage is all about adding value or what I call: Value Bank.
This is the process of adding so much value to your connections so that when they see another message or post from you they become receptive and excited to hear from you rather then delete or ignore you.
Let’s face it we all get more emails everyday then we would like and most of them are from people we don't know. So the only true way to cut through all the clutter is to come across as an educator rather then a typical salesperson which nobody really likes
I have provided for you below the system I use within my own network when executing a LinkedIn marketing campaign.
1. Setting outcomes and objectives
First and foremost you need to sit down and ask yourself the outcome or specific objectives you would ideally like to achieve from the campaign you are about to launch.
If it is your first time running a campaign I would suggest being more conservative, don’t set your expectations too high till you run a couple of campaigns.
This process should take anywhere between 10-15 minutes. I would recommend writing down your outcome either on a piece of paper or you can use a digital device which ever you find more convenient.
Overall there are three questions you should answer >>>
1. What is the specific outcome I would like to achieve within this campaign?
2. How will I know when I have achieved this outcome?
3. Is this outcome realistic based on my experience and resources available? (If not you may need to alter or change your original outcome)
2. Designing Your Value Bank & Offer
An important and critical component of the campaign, within this section you will need to create your touch points along with your offer. The key here is to mix it up to keep things interesting and intriguing.
Whether its through LinkedIn or other mediums of communication, I always advise my clients that for every 3 touch points of value adding material they should then follow up with a request to meet face to face, start a phone conversation or present a special offer.
I have attempted many different ratios throughout the past couple of years but have noticed the 3-1 ratio the most effective. Value adding touch points can be achieved through many different ways by:
Once you have designed your touch points its now times to create your offer. What is it that you would like to achieve?
Regardless of the outcome you need to make sure an end offer is designed and complete before you commence communication with your network.
3. Preparing Your Campaign
By this stage of the campaign you know your outcome, your touch points are designed and you are clear on the end offer you will be promoting. All that is left to do now is to plan your campaign.
Remember if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Planning your campaign will provide you the clarity and focus required to track and measure your results so that you can take away the learning’s necessary in order to ensure your next campaign is more successful. You can’t improve something you haven’t tracked so documentation is everything.
Here are some things to note when planning your campaign >>>
And most importantly if you take nothing away from this chapter but this one piece of advice, have a long term view at building relationships with those in your network because your network in business is ultimately your net-worth.