It’s no secret, LinkedIn is a rapidly evolving platform.
The same platform that was once almost completely avoided by the average person in business is now being flocked to by people trying to grow their professional following.
Microsoft has been investing heavily in turning the platform into the go-to place for B2B communication. They still have their work cut out for them, but it seems unlikely anyone will come along and take that away from them.
One unfortunate side effect of all this though, is the way people are currently using LinkedIn to further their own goals.
I should make clear – LinkedIn is an INCREDIBLE place for furthering your own business goals – it just needs to be done in the right way.
If you think it’s as simple as just firing up some automation software and blasting out some messages, then you’re only likely to annoy people and damage your reputation in the process.
Let’s take a look at several of the ways you can differentiate yourself from the types of people using LinkedIn irresponsibly.
Actually be social and network with people
For a social network, it’s kind of astounding how few people actually want to network on LinkedIn and just want to sell, sell, sell.
There’s an age-old saying that applies here – “People love to buy but hate to be sold to”.
If your only intent on LinkedIn is to make more sales, that’s going to be incredibly apparent in the way you approach people.
Lots of people believe they are being clever by waiting to include their sales pitch until the second or third message – but all they are really doing is delaying the inevitable.
Most people are so focused on the sale that they skip the entire process of forming actual connections with people. Or, they realize the person they are speaking with isn’t going to buy from them and disengage immediately.
What these people fail to realize is that people from your target market who aren’t buyers are likely your best advocates. A recommendation from them to others in their industry can be huge for you.
If you can reframe your outreach attempts to be less focused on making the sale, and more focused on being a good person to be connected to in your industry, you’ll soon find a lot more sales coming your way without having to try so hard for them.
Share valuable content that isn’t self-serving
One of the biggest mistakes I see consistently on LinkedIn is from people sharing their own promotional content and getting little to no traction at all.
It can be frustrating and cause people to believe LinkedIn is a bad place to share content and not prioritize their content there.
The issue though is people are sharing the wrong kind of content and in the wrong way.
The first issue is most of these posts link to external websites – a practice LinkedIn doesn’t encourage because it takes people off their site – and they don’t actively spread posts with external link.
The other issue though is people just don’t engage with promotional content. The algorithm sees almost no engagement and stops showing the posts to people in favor of higher quality content people do engage with.
So what do you share instead if you shouldn’t promote your own company? Get creative!
Something that works really well is sharing advice or a lesson you learned recently in business. Something that can establish you as a thought leader but also help people overcome a problem they might be struggling with.
As a bonus, you can lightly tie this back to your own company if you do it properly and make the main focus be on the lesson learned.
A great example that I see often on LinkedIn comes from people involved in sales consulting. They give some sales advice, sales tips or share a story that happened to them recently.
Within the story though, they either mention someone in the story being a client of theirs, allude to a result they got for them or just briefly mention their own company.
This allows you to not only establish yourself as an authority, but creates inbound interest in your brand from prospects as well.
Interacting with other people’s content on LinkedIn
The cool thing about LinkedIn is that the reach doesn’t just stop at your own connections, but extends on to connections of your connections and connections of those people’s connections as well.
As a result, engaging with things other people have posted is a great way to start networking with people – and a great way to have people remember who you are if you ever decide to reach out directly.
What’s great about doing this is engaging with other people’s content is often much easier than creating your own – it takes a fraction of the effort to add your insight to someone else’s post as it does to come up with a post all on your own.
If the person who originally created the post has a huge following – then you’re able to reach these people as well.
Just remember to not be promotional in the slightest here – share advice and things you’ve learned but DO NOT attempt to pitch people or make sales this way.
People who like and comment on your posts though are very likely open to connecting on LinkedIn too, so they can continue seeing the things you share on the platform. Just don’t pitch them as soon as they connect with you.
Some of my best recent connections have started in comment threads, and have had people send me connection requests and shortly after, referrals to clients who need our help.
It’s not nearly as measurable, but a whole lot more valuable than the average outreach campaigns.
Are you doing any of these things on LinkedIn?
We hear from a lot of people that they “tried LinkedIn” and it didn’t work for them, only to discover they’ve been doing all the wrong things that their prospects don’t appreciate.
Very few have tried the three things above though. None of it is rocket science, but it’s also not intuitive to the average person that leading with their pitch might not be the best approach.
Let us know in the comments what you think!