This is Part 1 in a 5-part series describing an effective LinkedIn strategy for selling high value products and services.
Part 1: LinkedIn Profile Optimization
As the world’s #1 professional network, LinkedIn’s entire value revolves around your personal profile. This means having an optimized profile is essential for a LinkedIn strategy focused on business growth.
How People Find You on LinkedIn
There are numerous ways that people can find you on LinkedIn:
- LinkedIn Search box and Advanced Search
- How you’re connected diagram in Sales Navigator
- People You May Know page
- Google search
- LinkedIn company page
- Who’s Viewed Your Profile
Part of the LinkedIn strategy we’re going to lay out here focuses on getting you found by more of your ideal customers.
On LinkedIn the three main things that actually get you found are:
1) LinkedIn Search Results
LinkedIn Search results count the most.
Your potential “hot” buyers use LinkedIn Search to actively look for people who provide products and services they need.
While it’s getting smarter, LinkedIn’s search engine is “brute force” and doesn’t have the built-in intelligence of Google. That means getting found is highly dependent on the keywords you use in your profile.
The more keywords (and higher concentration of keywords) you have in your LinkedIn profile, the more likely you’ll be found. But remember to keep it natural-looking i.e. don’t “keyword stuff”.
Google searches will also turn up LinkedIn profiles with high relevance, so you get a double-whammy when you keyword optimize your profile.
2) LinkedIn Articles and Posts
LinkedIn Articles work because keyword-driven content you publish appears in searches.
Articles are often shared and liked, expanding your reach significantly. They also appear in on-screen alerts when you publish them.
LinkedIn Posts appear in the LinkedIn social stream right when your sales prospects log in. Posts are snippets of exposure that help keep you “front of mind” in your network. They have a very short life so you need to publish lots of them (just automate the process with a scheduler).
Distributing content and tying it into your profile allows interested buyers to find you. Content also helps them determine if you’re credible and reach out to you with a couple clicks.
Producing relevant LinkedIn content for your ideal target customers will increase targeted traffic to your profile. This will potentially lead to sales — exactly what you want from a solid LinkedIn strategy.
3) Who’s Viewed Your Profile
Who’s Viewed Your Profile works like a “breadcrumb” — an opportunistic trigger for potential buyers to track back and view your profile.
A prospect who sees you’ve viewed their profile will often click your image to find out who you are.
About 1-2% of the time he or she will invite you to connect. If this occurs when they need your product or service, this means it’s an immediate incoming warm lead.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile (LinkedIn Profile Template)
Your profile has one key purpose: To tell the prospect what problem you solve and why he or she should choose you to solve it.
Here are the template elements you need to optimize for this LinkedIn strategy:
This is simple. Get a professional color headshot done in normal business attire for your target market.
If you want to shortcut this, have a friend take a photo for you. Do it outdoors in a well-lit area that doesn’t have direct sunlight beaming on you. Good locations are next to buildings, trees in a park, etc. Present a friendly yet professional face your customers will relate to.
Make sure the background is not too light or too dark for your skin color and clothing. What you’re looking for is a good contrasting background. the background should be darker if you have light skin or light clothes. It should be lighter if you have dark skin or dark clothes.
It’s also helpful if the background is a bit blurred. This focuses the eyes on your face, not the background.
The byline is the text right under your name in the Profile Edit view. This line of text appears everywhere on LinkedIn, including the Who’s Viewed Your Profile and People You May Know areas.
LinkedIn defaults your job title into this field. That’s wrong for a sales-oriented LinkedIn strategy (although it’s correct if you’re looking for a job).
Your Byline must succinctly describe the SPECIFIC JOB or VALUE you provide to your ideal target customers.
Here are some examples:
- “I Negotiate Down Insurance Claims”
- “I Solve Divorce-Related Asset Ownership Problems”
- “Top 1% Producing Sales Agent for the Construction Products Industry”
- “Helping Municipalities Reduce Telecom Costs”
- “I Help Families Pay for College”
Your Byline is absolutely critical for executing a solid LinkedIn strategy for selling high value products and services.
Your Summary section should have all of the elements below. This is a “magic formula” that works for any business owner or sales executive:
- Long version of your Byline (1-3 sentence elevator pitch)
- What you do (put this in the language of your ideal customer in terms of what problems you solve, what solutions you bring, and what benefits customers get)
- How you measure success from your customer’s perspective (e.g. performance indicators)
- How you do what you do (i.e. what makes you different)
- Who you want to do business with, and who you don’t (be specific)
- A personal passion or achievement with one sentence about why it’s relevant (e.g. Olympic skier = determination, donor to the dog rescue shelter = compassion)
- How to reach you (email, phone, social, hours)
- List of your skills and specialties
- List of keywords your ideal clients search for when looking to buy
Your Experience should include every job you’ve had since college. It should include your internships if you’re just out of college.
Each position should be described in the language your customer cares about and the benefits you’ve provided. For example, “saved my clients $X money” or “helped my government customer buy 14,000 jet engines with 20% lower failure rate”.
Part of this high value LinkedIn strategy is demonstrating credibility when people read your Experience section. Don’t just list your job titles — you need real content there.
If your job description doesn’t describe what you do for your customers, then you leave your prospects with missing information. They will tend to fill that gap with “I don’t trust this person” (authenticity gap) or “I can’t see what’s in it for me” (value gap).
On the other hand, if your current and past job history shows a series of benefits delivered and expertise gained, potential customers will see this and view you as a high value provider. This elevates you above just “some salesperson”.
Ditto in the Education section. The more detail you put about your education and why it’s relevant to your ideal target customer’s needs, the more likely they’ll view it as a bonus. This increases your credibility, authority and authenticity.
A lack of education i.e. “School of Hard Knocks” can also be turned to your benefit. Most customers respect people who have worked hard and earned their way in the world. So don’t worry if you don’t have 3 post-graduate degrees. Talk about how you help your customers!
Skills & Endorsements
Skills and Endorsements are a critical section for our LinkedIn strategy, for two reasons:
1) LinkedIn’s search engine uses Skills heavily when serving up profiles. You want to be endorsed heavily for skills that match the search terms customers use when looking for your type of solution.
2) Third-party endorsements increase social trust. This is particularly strong if the endorser is within the prospect’s industry, LinkedIn groups, or network. The more endorsements you have from high credibility people, the greater the likelihood a prospect is likely to reach out to you.
Volunteer / Causes / Interests
Causes and Interests are important for this strategy because they appear as a common topic with second-degree network members you want to target. The more Causes and Interests you have in your profile, the more likely a second-degree target customer will see that commonality. This incrementally increases the likelihood of finding a buyer match.
Have you built homes for the poor? Written a ground-breaking white paper? Co-authored a Kindle e-book? Given a TED speech?
List them in the Projects section. Projects reveal your depth and interests, and are great topics of conversation.
Languages are important if your business is international, particularly in senior leadership, political, trade or marketing roles.
Publications add credibility and boost your search engine results in LinkedIn for relevant terms. If you’re in a research-driven industry (pharma, scientific, finance, education, health, etc.) then you should list as many publications as possible. You can include publications where you were the author, co-author, editor or publisher. This includes self-publications and e-books.
Join as many relevant LinkedIn Groups as possible.
The key here is RELEVANT. Focus on groups where your ideal target customers hang out.
The limit is about 50 LinkedIn groups. You can have 10 outstanding requests to join at any given time.
Part of this high value LinkedIn strategy is encouraging relevant second-degree network members to connect with you. The probability of connecting increases when your prospect can see a common Group connection.
You should contribute to Group conversations by commenting on other members’ posts. You can post non-self-serving content (SEE PART 5: LinkedIn Engagement Actions). If you want to post sales-oriented content, be sure to obey the guidelines and reach out to the Group owner first. Groups are great for increasing your credibility, but they can also destroy it depending on your behavior, so treat them with a light touch.