5 LinkedIn Best Practices That Don’t Work

Prediction: 95 percent of sales reps and distributors will invest time in LinkedIn best practices that fail to generate leads in 2015. Be sure you’re not one of them.

Prediction: 95 percent of sales reps and distributors will invest time in LinkedIn best practices that fail to generate leads in 2015. Be sure you’re not one of them.

Most LinkedIn best practices for sales reps are not, in fact, best practices. They’re time-wasters. This is one of the most important insights I gleaned in 2014. That’s why I’m offering you five commonly recommended LinkedIn best practices to avoid in 2015.

The 5 Worst LinkedIn Best Practices

  1. Using “Who’s viewed my profile” to drive profile views.
  2. Requesting connections from new prospects.
  3. Sending InMails that ask for appointments and referrals.
  4. Sharing valuable content with your connections.
  5. Adding value in LinkedIn Groups by giving away your best advice.

Instead, follow these five steps to avoid falling down the LinkedIn “best practices” rabbit hole that truly don’t work for sales:

1. Beware of ‘Who’s Viewed Your Profile’
We all like candy and LinkedIn is handing it out. The experience is becoming increasingly Facebookesque. Case-in-point: The “who’s viewed my profile” feature. Beware: for most of us it’s a trap.

I’m not suggesting this feature isn’t handy. It’s just not what we (as sellers) want it to be. It can be a time-suck.

Our instincts to find buyers can overpower rational thought—especially when we’re pressed for time. Mix in some “online candy” and it’s a productivity risk.

Is it good to know who’s viewing your profile? Yes. Can you tell why someone outside of your immediate network is viewing your profile? Not with certainty. You cannot qualify a lead based on them looking at your profile.

A lot of experts claim you can. You cannot. Deep down, you know you cannot. Using software or other techniques to increase your views is not a smart strategy, especially when:

  • LinkedIn encourages random, casual viewing of “people you may know”
  • Many views aren’t views at all (they are momentary, fleeting arrivals at your profile)

LinkedIn wants you to know who’s looking at your profile. I’m cool with that. But when you believe people are viewing your profile for reasons you’re creating from thin air? You’re in trouble.

Spend time making sure arrivals at your profile spark curiosity in you. Invest less time in hope. And please don’t ask visitors you do not know (who view your profile) to connect with you!

2. Don’t Ask for Connections as a First Step
The most deadly—and common—mistake sales reps make on LinkedIn is asking prospects they don’t know to connect.

Be warned: It is against LinkedIn’s terms and conditions to send connection requests to prospects you don’t know. I know, I know. The “experts” all offer invitation personalization tips to earn connections from strangers. Ignore them!

Being banned by LinkedIn for inviting too many people who don’t know you is common. If your connection requests are not accepted often enough, LinkedIn will remove your ability to make requests.

Please don’t try to make first contact with prospects on LinkedIn—unless you use InMail or Groups messages. You may get connections accepted sometimes, but:

  1. You’ll rarely spark conversations after the connection is accepted;
  2. you’re taking a risk you don’t need to take; and
  3. the risk isn’t worth it; being connected is better for nurturing (not creating) leads.

3. Don’t Ask for Appointments in InMails, Attract Them
We all want appointments. But trying to get an appointment from “go” is a failing tactic. You will be rejected by 90 percent to 97 percent of perfectly good prospects according to Sharon Drew Morgen. She would know. She invented the Buying Facilitation method, and she has 20 years of experience to back up the statement.

Here’s why: A majority of buyers don’t know what they need when you email them. Or they are aware of their need, but aren’t ready to buy yet.

Use the first InMail or email like a good cold call: Earn permission for a discussion that can lead to an eventual meeting. Don’t jump the gun. Once you have permission, execute the email conversation in a way that sparks an urge in the prospect to ask you for the appointment.

Get the prospect so curious about what you have to say they cannot resist acting—asking you for a call.

Just like on a hot date, would you rather ask the other person out—or be asked? Don’t say too much too fast. Attract your prospect. This is one of my most mind-bending (yet effective) LinkedIn InMail tips. It also works on regular email messages.

4. Stop Sharing Valuable Content, Start Provoking Behavior
Sharing valuable content in groups and via LinkedIn updates rarely creates leads for most sellers; mostly because of “expert” tips that don’t work. There is way too little focus placed on how and when to share knowledge in groups.

Most “expert” tips focus on:

  1. gathering (curating) content quickly,
  2. defining what is valuable to buyers and
  3. deciding how often to post.

Instead, focus on how you post. Focus on structure. The design of words. Copywriting.

Defining what’s valuable to your target buyer is vital to know. But it’s worthless unless you know how to provoke customers to call or email you. (Not just comment on your update or share it with others.)

Likewise, knowing how to gather content quickly is important. But if what you share does not intersect with a lead capture system, you’ve squandered the engagement.

We’ve been told “share and they will come.” But the top 5 percent of LinkedIn sellers know an important fact. Sharing valuable content on LinkedIn won’t help you find clients. It takes solid social media copywriting.

Instead, start shockingly truthful discussions in LinkedIn Groups. Post updates on issues that competitors don’t dare go near. Tell the truths your competitors don’t want told. Then connect what you say to an action your prospect can take (begin the lead nurturing journey).

5. Adding Value in Groups Is Often a Win-Lose
Giving away your best advice in Groups can be a win-lose. The prospects win, you lose. Success depends on your prospects’ curiosity in you. And that depends on how and when you give away specifics. Just like effective InMail/email message writing and sequencing.

You’ll experience more success (requests for appointments, calls, emails) by giving away “just enough” information to be credible … yet not quite complete. The idea is to create an urge and the curiosity to know more.

For example, do you give answers and advice away in ways that create more questions in the mind of your reader? Do you give away just enough to create more curiosity about you that can be connected to what you sell? If not, you’re struggling.

You’re probably giving away too much too fast—smothering the prospect.

Are your posts grabbing customers? Are potential buyers responding—hungry to talk with you about issues, short-cuts or better ways you know about?

If not you’re probably over-focusing on what you are saying. Instead, focus on how you structure words and when you release key bits of information. Are you saying too much too fast?

Again, think of it like a great date. The most attraction occurs when you get “just enough” information about the other person that you become curious. Too much information overwhelms—leaves nothing to the imagination and is often flat out boring.

Once again, relevant content is elementary. The difference between wasting time with LinkedIn prospecting—and generating leads—is sparking buyers’ curiosity in what you can do for them.

Getting them to respond.

Remember, most LinkedIn best practices we read about online are not. They’re time-wasters. They’re edicts written by people who know about LinkedIn but who don’t know enough about sales prospecting. What do you think about my five commonly recommended LinkedIn best practices to avoid in 2015? Are you having any success with these? I’m open to hearing your rebuttals!

LinkedIn Prospecting: What Should You Post on LinkedIn and When?

What should you post on LinkedIn and when should you post it? These are common questions for B-to-B marketers and sales reps. Yet, I don’t recommend seeking the answers to them. Point blank: If you want to get prospects talking with you it’s more important to know how to post on LinkedIn.

What should you post on LinkedIn and when should you post it?

These are common questions for B-to-B marketers and sales reps. Yet, I don’t recommend seeking the answers to them.

Point blank: If you want to get prospects talking with you it’s more important to know how to post on LinkedIn.

What to post (and when) is secondary. Don’t fall into the trap!

Start by Asking Why
By asking, “Why am I about to post this?” you’ll focus on the most important part of LinkedIn prospecting.

Process.

When you ask, “Why am I about to post this, what do I want the customer to do?” you’re forced to consider possible answers. For example, you want customers to:

  • share and like an article (weak)
  • respond to a video by signing up for a whitepaper (stronger)
  • react: call or email to learn more about a solution (strongest)

Asking why draws attention to weak points in your LinkedIn prospecting approach. In many cases, reps and marketers don’t have a process in place to grab attention, engage and provoke response.

Because they’re over-focused on what to share, at what time.

Focus on How You Post, Not When
Most of us share content on LinkedIn without giving thought to how. We’re told to engage with relevant content. We curate articles from external experts. We share videos and whitepapers created by our marketing teams.

But are your posts grabbing customers? Are potential buyers responding—hungry to talk with you about transacting?

If not it’s probably because you’re over-focusing on what to post and when. Instead, focus on how.

How you structure words to grab attention, hold it and spark a reaction. Ask yourself these questions to get started.

Does what I post:

  • Contain a call to action?
  • Lead to more content containing a call to action?
  • Have a headline that screams “useful, urgent, unique'” (enough to grab attention)
  • Connect to a lead capture and nurturing sequence?

These are just a few easy ways to get started. If you’d like more tips just ask in comments or shoot me an email.

Relevant content is elementary. The difference between wasting time with LinkedIn prospecting—and generating leads—is sparking buyers’ curiosity in what you can do for them.

Getting them to respond.

Content Must Produce Response (or Else!)
Today’s best social sellers make sure everything they post on LinkedIn creates response. I tell my training students, “Make every piece of content make them crave more.”

Asking “Why am I about to post this?” is answered with “To make them crave more of what I have to offer.”

Accessing more of what you have to offer requires customers to respond—on the phone, via email or by signing up for a whitepaper.

Let’s face it. The best thing you can do for your LinkedIn followers is to get them to DO something meaningful. Not share or like something!

Resist the temptation to use LinkedIn like everyone else does. Sharing relevant content is the entry fee, not the game-changer. What should you post on LinkedIn and when should you post it is secondary.

More Tips for You
Get prospects talking with you on LinkedIn. Do it today. Change the way you post on LinkedIn. Pay attention to how you post. Here are tips to get you started:

  • Rewrite headlines using social media copywriting best practices
  • Get provocative, don’t be afraid to take a side and warn customers of dangers
  • Guide buyers by taking on taboo issues or comparing options to get “best fit”

To help create the habit try asking, “Why am I about to post this?” each time you post. Focus yourself on what you want the reader to do—how you want them to take action.

Let me know how these tips are working for you in comments!