Trending This Week: Avoid These Common Sales Networking Mistakes

There’s no better place for online sales networking than the world’s largest social network for professionals. Are you avoiding the most common pitfalls?

August 18, 2017

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For sales pros, LinkedIn can (and should) be a daily networking tool. It is a powerful lead generation platform, and an indispensable hub for making connections that drive business and spawn strategic relationships.

But for too many, LinkedIn also represents a missed opportunity. If you’re using it like other social networks, or treating your profile solely as an online résumé, then you are likely selling yourself short.

Where LinkedIn sales networking is concerned, we tend to see a lot of the same missteps time and time again. Sales productivity expert John Boyens did a good job covering several of them in his “Never Cold Call Again” webinar, and his insights were summarized nicely in a recent post on TMSA entitled 8 Common LinkedIn Mistakes in Sales Networking.

The good news is that, for the most part, these are easily correctable. So let’s run through the list with an eye on quick, actionable solutions for each item that can improve your sales networking productivity on the platform in a hurry.

1. Bad Overall Positioning

Does your LinkedIn profile immediately convey to the visitor your areas of specialty, while framing you as a helpful expert? If you’re not sure, try reading your profile through the eyes of a target prospect, with their specific pains and needs in mind. Avoid being overly general, or overtly promotional.

2. Your Headline Isn’t Optimized

This is easily one of the most prevalent oversights we see among sales pros. If you don’t customize your headline, it will automatically list your current job title and company. That’s fine in some cases, but this highly visible space could be better used to make a quick and compelling pitch -- not for someone to purchase your product or service, but for someone to keep reading and learn more about you.

3. Your Summary Doesn’t Speak to Target Audience

Is your personal summary oriented toward a potential employer or a potential customer? The copy in this space often reads like a cover letter, which can be useful -- your background and professional objectives are relevant to someone who might do business with you -- but can also lack relevance to a prospect or possible contact who comes across it. This is a good opportunity to share your own philosophies, and set yourself apart from other pros in the field. Add some personality, include contact information, and wrap it up with a friendly call to action.

4. Not Search Optimizing Your Profile

Now that we’ve covered the bases of ensuring your profile speaks to the right people in the right way, it’s important that those people can find it. Unlike some other social channels, LinkedIn is very searchable for engines, and profiles frequently rank near the top of SERPs. With search visibility in mind, apply SEO principles throughout your page. Use full and varied keywords, especially in your headline. Make sure you fill out every field and leave nothing blank. Give the crawlers (and searchers) plenty of ways to find you.

5. Not Using Advanced Search Capabilities

This functionality has changed a bit, but there’s still much more you can do with search than simply type in someone’s name to navigate to their profile. When using the search field in the top bar, you can enter keywords or job titles to bring up lists of individuals, companies, posts, and groups that pertain to them. Results will prioritize members who have mutual connections, so you might uncover new chances to make a relevant intro or two. You can unlock additional filters by going Premium, but there are plenty of underutilized search options available in the free version too.

6. Not Engaging News Feeds

By and large, members post content to their feeds because they want to talk about it. This can help you pinpoint topics of interest to them and their business. It’s an easy way to engage and spark meaningful conversations. Leaving a thoughtful comment on a share doesn’t take much time or effort but can have a lasting impact.

7. Not Following Companies

It is smart to stay on top of not only what prospects or colleagues are discussing, but also what companies are putting out there. These can include not only targets but also competitors. If you wish to go incognito and follow companies without alerting your network, go to the Privacy tab under “Settings and Privacy” on your account drop-down, and turn “Sharing Profile Edits” off.

8. Not Leveraging LinkedIn Groups to Connect/Engage

There are groups out there focusing on just about every industry and niche. Not only are these good places to learn new things from enthusiasts, but by participating you can establish your credibility and expertise with a vital subset of members. Within these groups, you will find customers, prospects, and colleagues who have much to offer.

How else can you improve your sales networking success on LinkedIn? Keep the practical advice rolling by subscribing to the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog.