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LinkedIn is the social media platform that is sadly neglected by many small businesses and start-ups.

Because it can be hard to understand LinkedIn’s many benefits, this 4 part series running over the course of April (by guest author Anna Colibri of ANNACOLIBRI | tech savvy coaching) explains in detail the value of LinkedIn for small businesses, and goes over how to optimise your profile, how to use LinkedIn to vastly increase your lead generation, and how you should run your LinkedIn company page to support your marketing.

alien waves goodbye as the LinkedIn ship leaves

LinkedIn For Lead Generation

The reason LinkedIn is so great for business in general and lead generation specifically is because the people on LinkedIn have money (median LinkedIn member income is $100,000), they know about business and are ready for action.

People are on LinkedIn to get down to business and that’s it. This type of focus can really work in your favor — if you know how to leverage it. The key to using LinkedIn for lead generation are the Groups. Heard of them? Joined them? Want to know more? Let’s take a look…

Using LinkedIn groups to grow new leads

Have you ever had the experience where something you didn’t understand, or had never occurred to you, suddenly seems obvious? That’s kind of how LinkedIn Groups for lead generation work. There’s nothing really secret or magic about them, but, maybe because LinkedIn is a more serious site, the average (business) person hasn’t caught on. Well, you are about to! So let’s get started.

We are going to focus on two key points:

  1. How to join LinkedIn groups and take advantage of them to to build brand awareness, promote your products and services and drive traffic to your site and
  2. How to start your own LinkedIn group to do more of the above while establishing yourself as an authority on the web

Join a LinkedIn Group For Lead Generation

Joining a LinkedIn Group is not hard.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Research groups. Go to the tab marked groups and choose Groups You May Like and Groups Directory. In the Groups Directory you can do filtered searches by key words.
  2. Select your groups. You can belong to up to 50 groups. Choose groups that are relevant to you and that allow Promotions (see below).
  3. Join groups. Some groups are open and some are Members only (sounds exclusive, doesn’t it?). If you choose to request membership in a members only group you may have to wait for a while for approval. Don’t worry (I personally have never been turned down)!
  4. Manage your time. Now it’s time to set aside some time each day or each week to keep up with your groups. Start by answering questions and responding to questions.

But wait a minute! How does all of this help with lead generation?

Here’s the magic.

Groups allow you to:

  • Create and participate in Discussions. Discussions allows you to build your reputation within the Group and monitor opportunities that fit your products and services. If someone says they need help with widgets you and sell widgets, by all means message them with a link to your site.
  • Research Group members. If you see someone who seems like a fit you can invite them to connect or send a message. This builds your network and will allow you to make personal contact as needed.
  • Take advantage of the Promotions feature. Using the Promotions tab, you can create an offer that can be seen by the entire targeted group. Also, if your group allows promoting, you can subtly promote in your Discussions.
  • Power User Tip: Learn to send your updates to your groups. This can be done by sharing your update as usual and then, when it is posted, sharing it to selected Groups.

Sharing on LinkedIn

Start Your Own LinkedIn Group For Lead Generation

Starting your own Group is when LinkedIn for lead generation gets juicy. LinkedIn Groups allow you to amp up your networking, establish yourself as an authority (see above) and also help you generate leads. And, of course, you can use your memberships in established groups to help launch your own. First, of course, you must establish a Group. Here is a YouTube tutorial on LinkedIn Groups that will help you do just that. Once you have established your Group, you will need to commit to developing and maintaining it because that will be your ticket to using Groups for LinkedIn lead generation.

As a Group administrator, you are allowed to send an announcement directly to Group members’ personal emails once per week. It’s not often you have the floor like this, so make it count! After you have established yourself as an authority and developed a lively community atmosphere in your LinkedIn Group, you can begin to share opportunities that generate leads such as free webinars and other offers.

The Offer

Now that you have everyone’s attention, established your authority by sharing high quality content and established relationships with your group members it’s time to make an offer.

It’s so simple, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t thought of it already. Here’s what you do:

  • Using the advantage of your weekly administrator email, make an offer
  • Make the offer truly awesome (that’s another post, but I know you can do it!)
  • Follow up with a call to action such as, “I hope you enjoyed this great free truly awesome offer. Now join our list/buy our book/become a client.”

Make sure to highlight the benefits and value of your call to action and you are good to go. So get going!

Avoid the spam!

The important thing to remember is that you don’t want your LinkedIn Group to be spammy. So be prepared to take the time it takes to provide truly useful content and build your audience and you will find that LinkedIn lead generation is hotter than you thought.

The other common sense way to use LinkedIn for Lead Generation – InMail

Participating in groups and creating your own group is by no means the only way that people use LinkedIn for lead generation (although it is the main way, and anything else you do should be supported by this). By joining LinkedIn you are connecting yourself to a huge database of potential leads, and a very simple way of connecting with them is simply to strategically search for them via area and keywords and asking to connect/sending them an InMail message.

It is best not to be too sales orientated in these first connections. State why you want to connect (mutual interests or connections) and possibly mention the benefits of your connection/service.

The open rate on LinkedIn InMail is 20-40% , which is up to twice as high as the average open rate for email (under 20%). In a nutshell, connecting with potential new customers  is far more effective on LinkedIn than the same message sent via email. 10 minutes a day spent sending messages via InMail is a small investment of time which could reap real results for your business.

Your Turn

Have you used LinkedIn for lead generation? What did you think? Hot or cold? Are there any other ways to use LinkedIn for lead generation that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

Guest Poster:

Anna Colibri, Owner, ANNACOLIBRI | tech savvy coaching

Bio: Founded ANNACOLIBRI | tech savvy coaching, a values-based marketing company, in February, 2012. She grew up in Pacific Grove, California, a small town on the edge of the sea. She has had the wonderful fortune to live, study and work in San Francisco, CA, France and India. You can, of course find her on LinkedIn