1. Change the Game.
Most everyone still thinks of LinkedIn as either a job board or a marketing platform. Instead, think about this platform as a real-life networking event ... and approach it with a sales mindset. Instead of looking for an audience you can blast with marketing messages, focus on starting interesting conversations with prospects. By the way, if your LinkedIn profile makes people think you're looking for a job, you've already lost the first-impression contest!
2. Seek Out Quality Prospects.
Ineffective salespeople try to sell everyone. Great salespeople get specific. They identify the exact names, positions, and relevant connections of everyone on their prospect list, and then they work their network to get personal introductions to the people they've identified as high-value targets. The Advanced Search function on LinkedIn is a great tool for doing basic pre-approach research.
3. Get Connected – but Not to Everybody.
Surprise: Most of the top social selling salespeople on LinkedIn have fewer than 500 connections. They know every one of them, and they focus on adding value to their network, not on building a large audience. If you know people well enough, you can connect with them on LinkedIn. If they wouldn’t take your call, or you wouldn’t take theirs, then don’t connect yet. Focus on getting to know the person first, and consider a multi-platform approach that lets you see what the person you're researching is up to on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
4. Make Personalized Contact.
Another common mistake salespeople make is trying to sell through their status updates and advertising, rather than through interpersonal conversations. Instead of blasting sales messages and hoping someone takes you up on it, find a mutual connection and get a personal introduction. Even if you can’t get a referral, you can still use social media to start an interesting conversation. Reach out with a direct message, personalized for that prospect, not a blanket advertising message.