If everything LinkedIn itself and uncountable LinkedIn pundits wanted you to believe about using LinkedIn were true, my life would be so much easier. I would breeze though my news feed then quickly find, connect and engage my ideal prospects, and schedule a phone call with the best of them – all while drinking my first cup of coffee.
Instead, I spend my days overseeing successful LinkedIn sales and marketing programs that – although constantly streamlined – take a team of people several hours a day to implement. Regardless of what I wish were true, there are not a lot of shortcuts on LinkedIn and trying to “hack” the system will, at best, ensure you don’t succeed or, at worst, make you look clueless.
If you want to succeed in sales and marketing efforts on LinkedIn, here are 6 myths you need to question.
LinkedIn Myth #1: LinkedIn in 15 to 30 minutes a day
Forget it. You could spend that much time just reading your newsfeed. Most sales and marketing people in complex sale situations who successfully manage their own LinkedIn activity find that it takes substantially longer.
Brand based sales and communication consultant Robert Wright has a very successful approach to engaging prospects on LinkedIn that I’ll write about later. LinkedIn is key in his ability to reach high level marketing executives in multi-national companies, and Robert says he spends a minimum of 90 minutes per day on the network. I think this is much closer to reality.
LinkedIn Myth #2: High level prospects are easy to reach
While the thought of being able to connect and engage CxOs of Fortune 1000 companies with a quick connection invitation and some well-worded follow up messages is heart warming, in many cases it’s a pipe dream. Busy executives often have someone else managing their LinkedIn accounts for them – usually a PR agency or assistant. Even if you get connected, further messages can often go unanswered.
Eric Blumthal, CEO of count5 software, says 60% of his recurring business can be traced directly to his LinkedIn efforts; but not in the way you’d think. After years of testing and rejecting a variety of approaches to reach high level prospects, Eric began to focus on meeting influencers who proved to be a better path to decision makers.
Myth #3: LinkedIn group participation is as simple as posting your blog articles
With roughly 2 million groups now available on LinkedIn, learning how to use LinkedIn groups effectively is not a no-brainer. Mindi Rosser, Community Engagement Strategist at The Conversion Company, says it takes time, patience and quite a bit of trial-and-error just to find the best groups to join. Monitoring and effectively engaging in the groups can take hours each week. (See #1 above.)
Unfortunately, many of the most active LinkedIn groups are full of sales and marketing people simply posting blog articles. When discussions do occur, it’s often consultants talking to each other. This has driven some of the more experienced LinkedIn users to declare groups useless. LinkedIn is working to make groups more effective again, but for now you have to work to find the diamonds in the rough.
Myth #4 LinkedIn is an effortless tool for sales and marketing
LinkedIn is a great business tool, but making it easy to use for sales and marketing people is not a priority. While LinkedIn makes bags of money selling sales and marketing solutions, its oft-stated primary focus is the good of all of its members – to protect their privacy and to continue making the network more valuable and useful for them. In my experience, LinkedIn is better at the former than the latter.
Because of LinkedIn’s dedication to its member’s privacy, it is essentially a closed network where communication within cannot be easily exported outside. This means messages you exchange with a connection on LinkedIn will not automatically appear in your CRM (not even Salesforce). Adding LinkedIn communication along side your email exchanges and phone call notes requires an old-fashion approach known as cutting and pasting.
Although I complain about LinkedIn’s closed network because it makes my job harder, I respect them for it. Protecting messages sent between members is taking the high road, and LinkedIn does it well.
On the other hand, we enjoy almost-weekly head banging in our offices over some bewildering thing LinkedIn has done. Changes are made without warning and often, it seems, without even a passing thought about how it might affect users.
The latest upgrade to the LinkedIn Inbox is a good example. As of that upgrade, when someone accepts your connection invitation, your record of that invitation goes away. You cannot see what you said to the person that made them want to connect with you. Did you offer to send them some information? Did you ask them a question? I hope you made a copy of the invitation.
Myth #5 The LinkedIn Profile Wizard leads to a useful profile
Whether you’re doing a complete makeover of your profile or you’re just adding a new position, creating and maintaining a professional looking, connection-enticing profile is not as easy as it should be in this day of click and move web interfaces. In fact, it’s not even as easy as it used to be.
The biggest problem with the Profile setup, as I’ve been saying for years, is it was designed to help you create an online resume. Follow the wizard and you’ll end up attracting recruiters while, at the same time, possibly repelling prospects.
Myth #6: Status updates and content platform articles generate leads
Consistently updating your LinkedIn status and posting to the LinkedIn content platform are both ways to increase your visibility, especially to people who are already looking for you. But reaching and engaging people you don’t know with nothing more than posting is a crap shoot. It’s only going to happen if your target audience is genuinely interested in your topic and they happen to be looking at their news feed when your stuff appears.
To use LinkedIn as the powerful business tool it really is requires on-going outreach and one-to-one engagement. This takes time. (See #1 again.)
Those are 6 misunderstandings I encounter over and over again, and there are more. Which do you struggle with? Join us in the Social Media for B2B Marketing and Sales group on LinkedIn and share your experience.