Social Selling Tips That Really Help You Sell

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Attaching the word “social” to just about anything is trendy… social media, social networking, and, social selling. It can be dizzying figuring out what this all means to you as a salesperson, and where the line is between “busy-ness” and generating business as it relates to your time and money investment.

Sure, we could fill our days butterflying around the web being “social,” Tweeting, blogging, liking, Facebooking, posting questions and answers on sites, and then hoping that results in business.

Or, you can focus your efforts in the areas that complement and enhance your efforts in actually talking to prospects and customers. 

What to do? There are plenty of people out there who have annointed themselves as “social” gurus. I wanted to to sort through the masses and find the few who actually knew sales and could be called social selling experts. Today we have a guest contribution from one of them, Kurt Shaver, President of The Sales Foundry. 

Today Kurt share some tips with us on using the must-use social tool for sales, LInkedIn, and he also has agreed to do a free webinar for our readers on How to Break Through Using Social Selling Techniques on January 29. 


How to Take Advantage of the New LinkedIn Profile Format
By Kurt Shaver

In October, LinkedIn announced a new Profile format. While it is the biggest visual change to LinkedIn in it’s nearly ten-year history, the announcement went largely unnoticed because it was a phased roll out over many months.

Well, it’s noticed now. LinkedIn rolled out the new Profile to most of its members in December. Here are four changes and the action to take in order to optimize them.

1. BIGGER PHOTO – Your Profile photo has always been important. It is even more so now.

First, the photo is a little bigger in the new format so make sure it represents your desired professional image. No spouse, baby, distracting backgrounds, or bowling trophy unless you make your living bowling or you are The Big Lebowski (a.k.a. The Dude).

Second, your photo is now used in places that used to only show your name (text). One example is the “HOW YOU’RE CONNECTED” section, which shows common Level 1 Connections. Since the image size is very small in these secondary views, make sure to follow my F.F.F. rule:
Fill the Frame with Face.

THE ACTION:
Upload a current, professional-looking headshot (silhouette or light, opaque background recommended).


2. ACTIVITY – LinkedIn has been working hard to drive more usage on its site and one way they are doing it is by showcasing a summary of your Updates, Comments, Discussions, and other LinkedIn “activities”. It’s now right under the main information section of your Profile (just above the Background section). Active posters are being rewarded for contributing to LinkedIn’s content.

THE ACTION: Begin a regular schedule of posting on LinkedIn.


3. ADD MEDIA – This is the biggest change both in terms of what LinkedIn took away and what they added. Applications are gone. The limited list of LinkedIn’s own (i.e. Events) and 3rd party apps (i.e. Google Presentations, Amazon Reader, WordPress,…) have been replaced with a single feature – “Add Media”.

After a shaky start the first week of rollout, this has settled down into a powerful and easy-to-use feature that everyone should leverage.

You can now add documents, images, audio, even video files to many sections of your Profile. It can be your own original content, something your Marketing department created, or publicly available content from sources like ABC News, Forbes, or YouTube. Check out my Profile for example of various media types:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtshaver/

THE ACTION: Add something (an image, white paper, PowerPoint) to your Summary right now just to see how easy it is. Refresh as you get better “stuff”.


4. INTERESTS – If “Add Media” is the most dramatic change, “Interests” is the subtlest change. You have always been able to list your Interests on LinkedIn but it was buried at the bottom of a Profile scroll so it never got much attention.

While “Interests” could certainly be business-related, most people used it as a way to add some personality (i.e. scuba diving, Mediterranean cooking, coaching my daughter’s soccer team) to their business-centric LinkedIn Profile.

Now, LinkedIn has elevated “Interests” to one of the data categories showcased on the “IN COMMON WITH _____” infographic showing you what you have in common with the person whose Profile you are viewing. Along with common-sense categories like “Location”, “Groups”, and “Skills or Expertise”.

This is powerful rapport-building sales intelligence when reviewing a prospect’s Profile. Imagine a salesperson starting a new prospect conversation by saying,

“Before we spoke, I reviewed your LinkedIn profile and I noticed we both have an interest in scuba-diving. What’s your favorite place to dive?”

THE ACTION: Add three interests (personal or professional) to your Profile. Then be on the lookout for common Interests when viewing others’ Profiles.

The changes have been fast and furious at LinkedIn lately. Find out more about how to leverage LinkedIn for sales, and other social selling techniques you can use to break through and sell at a free webinar for Art’s readers on January 29.

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Nice job Kurt, thanks for sharing those great LinkedIn tips with us. I had actually attended this webinar myself last month and made a number of changes to enhance my own LinkedIn profile. Unless you are already a LinkedIn and social selling expert, you will find the webinar well worth your brief time investment.
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