Making the Most of LinkedIn: Daily Action Plan

linkedin daily checklist action planDo you have a good LinkedIn profile that includes a LinkedIn profile picture and all the important fields filled in? Before you start doing regular activities in LinkedIn, you want to make sure your profile is in tip top shape. To help you along, you might check out 10 great examples of CEO LinkedIn profiles.

LinkedIn profile all good now?

You know you can do a lot of things on LinkedIn. But your time is limited. To help you along, use this checklist as your Daily LinkedIn Action Plan. It’s OK if you can’t do it five days a week. Try to make it a habit to work through the list two or three days a week.

On some days, you won’t need to do a couple of these activities. Most don’t take more than a few minutes. Checking everything on this list on a weekly basis ensures you do a little bit of all the important things in LinkedIn: nurture leads, build relationships and stay top of mind.

+- Check Inbox messages.
+++++o Respond to inquiries.
+++++o Set reminders for follow-ups.
+- Do follow-ups.
+- Accept new connections.
+++++o Tag new connections.
+++++o Send personalized welcome message to new connections.
+- Check “Keep in Touch” in the Connections menu.
+++++o Wish happy birthday.
+++++o Congratulate on promotions, job changes and news.
+++++o Give them a reason to respond by asking a question or suggesting a meeting.
+- Follow up with people who accepted your connection requests.
+++++o Send a personalized welcome message.
+++++o Set reminders for follow-up.
+- Post a status update.
+++++o Share interesting articles.
+++++o Post a quote.
+++++o Provide a tip.
+- Check your notifications (see the flag icon at the upper right of the page).
+++++o Respond to comments on your blog posts, group posts and status updates.
+++++o Like or post a comment on a connection’s post.
+++++o Send connect requests to people who are engaging with your content.
+- Send connect requests to five to 10 people who fit your criteria.
+++++o Check your saved searches for connection ideas.
+++++o Run new searches to find new connections.
+++++o Review group discussions to find new connections.
+- Check one or two groups.
+++++o Look for discussions you can comment on.
+++++o Respond to questions you can answer.
+++++o Share content relevant to the group; formulate your title as a question.
+- Check your activity feed on home page for news and updates.
+++++o Like or comment on info shared by people you want to nurture.
+++++o Share anything interesting.
+- Look at tagged list in “Keep in Touch.”
+++++o Open profile page of someone you want to nurture.
+++++o Endorse him or her for one skill.

What do you think of the Daily LinkedIn Action Plan? What would you add or change?

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How Do I Build Relationships on LinkedIn?

Building relationships on LinkedIn requires a different tact than with people you meet in person. You might attend a conference or a networking event. There, you work the room introducing yourself and learning about others. Before moving on, you exchange contact information and follow up.

With LinkedIn, you’re in a room with millions of other professionals. Who do you talk to? What do you say? Should you send a message? Start a conversation in a forum? It’s almost like trying to clean an overflowing garage. Where do you start?

First, know that there are no shortcuts or speedy ways to cultivate relationships in LinkedIn. The good news is that following this process will ensure you take a direct path to building relationships on LinkedIn.

Start with the reason why you’re on LinkedIn. What do you want to get out of it? Grow business? Find partners? Connect with investors? Invest in startups? In answering this, it’ll help you define your target audience.

And now you’re ready to start the process of building relationships in LinkedIn. Here’s the process:

linkedin nurture connections

 1. Search for new connections.

linkedin process search new connections

Begin searching LinkedIn Groups to find the people who meet your defined target audience. For example, if you want to connect with managed services providers (MSP), look for MSP-related groups to join. Be careful. If you’re not an MSP and the group is specifically for people who work for an MSP, it would probably be best not to contribute. Still, you can listen.

Look for groups with a decent amount of members and lots of activity. For every group, LinkedIn displays the group’s activity level. After joining a few groups, monitor the discussions while noting the names of people you may want to contact.

LinkedIn’s search tool gives you another way to find people. Its search tool allows you to save searches, search by keywords, company, location, job title and more. Read Advanced LinkedIn Search Tips and Tricks for more ideas on how to maximize your searches to find the right people.

2. Introduce

linkedin process connections introduce

LinkedIn Groups can open the door to an introduction. When a contact you’d like to meet posts something you found intriguing, send a message that references the post. Use it to introduce yourself with a request to connect.

For people you find by searching LinkedIn, where you don’t have a group in common, you’ll most likely need to look up their email address. (LinkedIn Premium Members can send InMail.) Check the person’s profile and contact info for clues on how to contact the person. Once you’re able to send a message, explain why you want to connect while including a benefit for the recipient. Your message should include:

  • Why you chose them
  • What you have to offer, or how you might be able to help
  • What you would like them to do

Do you and the prospect know someone in common? Ask your mutual friend to connect you. People tend to follow through when receiving referrals from people they know.

3. Build Credibility

linkedin process credibility trust connection

Yes, it’s harder to build trust online when you can’t look someone in the eye and shake hands. But you can show you’re reliable, likeable, and competent through your actions. An easy way to do this is with education.

You gain trust by sharing useful resources like case studies and articles, forwarding news, sending analyst reports, and letting people know you saw their company mentioned in an article. Every time you stay in touch on LinkedIn by providing valuable resources, it nudges up the trust meter.

Another way to build credibility is to make and follow through on promises. Most people fail to follow up or are generic about how they will follow up. A good promise is one that you know you can deliver, is under your control, and doesn’t rely on other people to make it happen.

A promise can occur in an email, phone call or tweet. When you make a promise, be specific about when you’ll follow up whether it’s tomorrow or by next Monday. Then, deliver on the promise.

Life happens. Sometimes you can’t keep a promise for whatever reason. Contact the person as soon as possible, apologize, and make another promise that you know you won’t miss.

If you have an email list, you can add new LinkedIn connections to the list. When people accept your LinkedIn connection request, it gives you permission to stay in touch with them. But you don’t want to abuse that. Yes, you can add them to your email list. But it’s better to ask them first if it would be OK, and explain why the emails would be useful to them. Respect them enough to give them the choice.

4. Nurture

linkedin process nurture connections

Nurturing is the process of building relationships with non-sales-ready leads to keep them your funnel. LinkedIn provides some tools to support relationship-building.

You may get notification emails from LinkedIn letting you know who’s celebrating a birthday, a work anniversary, new job and so on. If not, you can see this in your Connections section on LinkedIn, under Keep in Touch, where you’ll find all of your LinkedIn Contacts. Use those and these six excuses to stay in touch on LinkedIn.

Check your home page for news, articles, and content from your connections. Like, comment, and share their content. Little things like this build warm fuzzies.

Endorsements offer another quick way to do something for others. Visit a person’s LinkedIn profile and simply click the skill you wish to endorse. If someone endorses your skills, that’s another excuse to send a message of thanks and check in.

You can go further as a lead moves along in your sales funnel.

Eventually, when the lead moves from cold to warm, you’ll mention your product or service and explain why it’s the right one. Education works well with prospects in the awareness phase of the customer decision journey. It also helps overcome potential objections and teach them what they need to know.

You can invite serious prospects to webinars and events, a great way to demonstrate your expertise. Effective companies have a marketing strategy that identifies what content they share with the leads based on where they fall in the sales funnel. When your LinkedIn connections reach the next phase of the customer decision journey, be sure to include them in the activities for that phase.

At the right time, you can share video customer testimonials, podcasts, white papers and product demonstrations.

Remember that you can enter notes about connections in LinkedIn. No one else can see these notes. You can also use tags. When meet someone, you can tag that person with “Awareness” or whatever you call the first phase of the funnel. When someone moves from “Awareness” to “Consideration,” then you can drop the “Awareness” tag and replace it with “Consideration” or your name for the second phase. Do this for your connections to know where they are in your funnel.

Do consistent nurturing to keep your company in front of prospects. That way, when they need you, they’ll remember you.

5. Move offline.

linkedin process offline connections

You’ve reached the end of the line. Your prospect is sales-ready. Take the relationship to the next level by requesting a phone call or in person meeting. Before you connect offline, prepare to share what you have to offer that benefits the other person. It’s easier to create value when you focus on giving rather than receiving.

The most successful LinkedIn users stand out because they always offer value. There’s a reason why answering “What’s in it for me?” still works. Thank them for their time.

Don’t forget – keep nurturing the relationship even after you move it offline. Sharing warm fuzzies never gets old.

What other ways can you build relationships on LinkedIn?

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LinkedIn Etiquette: 14 Tips You Must Know

online networking linkedin etiquetteI recently received an unusual message on LinkedIn. Let’s just say it was the kind of message you expect from Match.com, not LinkedIn. It made me uncomfortable, so I promptly removed that person as a connection.

Every social media network is different and has its own unwritten rules. It may not be black or white, but with experience, you get a sense of what’s right and what’s not. Sometimes, it doesn’t become obvious, especially with a professional network like LinkedIn.

Clients often ask questions about LinkedIn like “If people endorse or recommend me, should I endorse or recommend them back?” and “A competitor sent me a connect request. Should I accept?”

For endorsements and recommendations, you can simply thank them. Only endorse and recommend if you know them and would be comfortable with everyone seeing what you said on their profile.

As for competitor connection requests, you can accept it if you think their network would be useful to you. On the other hand, if you’re worried about them connecting with your clients, you may not want to connect with your competitor.

You can manage your LinkedIn Profile privacy controls to dictate what the public and your connections see in your profile. It’s also possible to control what your public LinkedIn profile displays.

Here are 14 rules to help you remain professional on LinkedIn.

1. Avoid using the default connect request.

When sending a connection request, personalize it by letting people know who you are, how they met you, and why you want to connect. Be careful sending connect requests from the LinkedIn mobile app because it typically doesn’t allow you to include a customized message. This can also happen on the website on the “People You May Know Page.” For these, click the person’s photo or name instead of “Connect.”

2. Skip clicking “I don’t know” or “spam” for connection requests.

Not even when you’re contacted by someone you don’t know. Either ignore it or click “Ignore.” Clicking “I don’t know” or “spam” can hurt the person’s account. It’s better to leave it alone.

3. Limit status updates to one or two a day.

This prevents you from dominating someone’s LinkedIn news stream. People want to see updates from a variety of people, not the same person repeatedly.

4. Share useful news.

When posting news, think business news or information of value. Personal news doesn’t go over well on a professional network like LinkedIn.

5. Post appropriate photos and graphics.

Posting photos, images and graphics can increase engagement. Just remember to keep it professional. While there’s nothing wrong with cute cats making mischief, these cutesy photos aren’t appreciated on LinkedIn as they are on Facebook or Instagram.

6. Skip the hashtags.

LinkedIn doesn’t convert hashtags into clickable links. Because of this, it looks like you’re reposting a Tweet.

7. Write recommendations when it’s appropriate.

If someone recommends you, it is polite to recommend them back. However, don’t do it unless you are comfortable having other people view your recommendation on that person’s profile.

8. Respond to endorsements as you see fit.

You do not need to endorse people back if they endorse you. Instead, you can send a quick thank you message.

9. Shun asking for endorsements.

And especially don’t endorse someone and then send a message saying you endorsed them and ask them to endorse back. A better way to get endorsements is to endorse others as appropriate. Many will return the favor.

online networking etiquette10. Ask for recommendations from people who can recommend you.

Don’t ask for recommendations from strangers or casual acquaintances. The people you ask should be familiar with some aspect of your work.

You’re more likely to get a good recommendation if you draft one for them, and let them edit. You can bring out the aspects of your work you most want them to mention, and quote stats if you have them. Just say “I was hoping you would be comfortable saying something like this…”

11. Ignore recommendations and endorsements from strangers.

If people you don’t know ask for recommendations or endorsements, you don’t need to get back to them. Just ignore their request.

12. Manage your recommendations and endorsements.

Remember, you can choose which recommendations and endorsements appear on your public profile. If you accept an endorsement or recommendation, you don’t have to show it.

13. Disconnect from people who make you uncomfortable.

If someone spams you repeatedly, hits on you, or sends other inappropriate messages, disconnect from them. If their message is particularly abusive or illegal, report them. Don’t feel pressured to respond to an off-topic request. For example, someone said I was perfect for a job for which I had no experience.

14. Provide value in LinkedIn Groups.

Unless a LinkedIn Group says it’s OK to post self-serving content, don’t do it. Focus on providing responses that add value. People are more likely to contact you when they see you share your expertise and do it in a positive way.

Ensure your posts are always positive, even those that express disagreement. It’s fine to disagree, but not when it comes across as critical or negative.

Focus on building relationships and providing value with the people you want to connect. It will pay off.

What LinkedIn etiquette would you add or change? Or have an experience to share? Share it in the comments.

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Your 10-Step LinkedIn Daily Action Plan

linkedin daily checkHabits help us do the same thing every day without fail. Waking up, brushing teeth, showering, exercising and so on. It’d be worth adding LinkedIn to the list because it helps grow your business. I know – it’s just another thing you don’t have time for, right? Start small. Try it once a week, then twice until you reach a comfortable pace.

The results might surprise you that you’ll be compelled to do it four or five times a week. If once or twice a week works better, then you can do most of these for longer stretches. The only exception is birthday wishes as you’ll want to send those on the person’s birthday, or close to it.

Here’s your 10-step LinkedIn Daily Action Plan.

1. Check Inbox for messages.

- Respond to inquiries.
- Set reminders for follow-ups.

2. Do follow-ups.

- When someone tells you about a project or big event, follow-up to see how it went.
- After meeting someone at an event, send a resource or something of value.

3. Accept new connections.

- Tag the connections you’ve accepted. Suggestions:

  • Where you met the person. Event, company, party, trade show, social media, etc.
  • How did you meet? In-person, online, phone, etc.
  • Type of relationship: Customer, prospect, group member, coworker, vendor, friend, relative, fellow alumni and so on.
  • Strength of relationship on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being weakest and 5 is strongest.
  • What do you want to do with the person? Meet in person, build relationship, maintain relationship, grow relationship, reconnect, etc.
  • Location.
  • Industry.

- Send a personalized welcome message to new connections. (When you accept someone else’s connection and vice versa.) Suggestions:

  • Briefly describe what you do for clients.
  • Mention your email list, why it’s valuable and how to subscribe.
  • Send a link to download a free guide or resource of value.

4. Check Keep in Touch or daily email from LinkedIn Updates.

- Send birthday wishes.
- Congratulate on promotions, job changes and news. (Verify the dates because sometimes it looks new when it isn’t.)
- Traveling? Find contacts in the area where you’ll be to see if they want to meet.
- Share an interesting resource.

5. Post a status update on your home page. Suggestions:

- Interesting articles along with a short comment.
- Inspirational quote.
- Tip based on your expertise.
- Statistics.
- Powerful, professional images.

6. Check your notifications.

- Respond to comments on your blog posts, group posts and status updates.
- Send connect requests to people who engage with your content.

7. Send five to 10 connect requests to people who fit your criteria.

- Check your saved searches.
- Run new searches.

8. Check one or two groups.

- Comment on discussions.
- Answer questions.
- Share content relevant to the group and write a question to use as the title.

9. Check your activity feed.

- Review news.
- Read updates.
- Like or comment on info shared by people you want to nurture.
- Share anything interesting related to the update.

10. Filter a tagged list in Keep in Touch.

- Open the profile page of anyone you want to nurture to endorse them for one skill.
- Send a message.

Try it and let us know how it works for you. What suggestions do you have for this list?

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Great LinkedIn Profile Examples for Sales VPs

vp sales linkedin profile examplesVP Sales LinkedIn profiles vary from detailed with most fields filled in to an almost empty one. Many sales teams, especially those in B2B, find great value in LinkedIn for forging new relationships and reinforcing existing ones.

Any VP of sales who wants to stay in the spotlight and represent the company brand can do it by completing the profile from head to toe beginning with the summary and ending with following others.

I browsed LinkedIn looking at a diversity of VP sales profiles for inspiration. Some may not be as complete as it could be yet it’ll give you ideas to apply to your own. You can get more tips to flesh out your profile from LinkedIn for Sales VPs.

Before you go on the profile tour, note that you may not have access to all of them. It depends on your membership account and your connection to the person. If you can’t find one of these people, go to Google and search on their name. Find the link to their LinkedIn profile and click through from there.

Marcy Campbell
Senior VP sales, Engine Yard
www.linkedin.com/pub/marcy-campbell/0/7/454

The summary highlights Campbell’s 20 years of experience in managing sales and marketing teams.  Her detailed experience section summarizes each past position in one paragraph. She lists publications and personal interests. Reading the crisp profile, you can get a sense of her background and specialty without being bogged by details.

David Cassady
Executive VP global sales, Greenlight Technologies (Summary says why he’s on LinkedIn)
www.linkedin.com/in/davidcassady

I like Cassady’s first person summary, which closes with the reason he uses LinkedIn. He also covers this under the advice for contacting him. We all know LinkedIn serves a greater purpose than helping people find and fill jobs. The summary and advice for contacting a person are the best places to state what you’re looking for from people on LinkedIn. Consider including a call to action.

Mike Chasteen
VP sales and marketing, Lanvera
www.linkedin.com/in/mchasteen

Chasteen has a well-rounded profile with a one-paragraph summary giving the highlights of his career: “25+ years experience as an evangelist, strategist and teacher. Leading great sales teams as small as 5 and as large as 200. Successfully manages P&L’s, and drives attainment hitting revenue goals as high as $300M. Empowering good sales people to become great sales people leveraging traditional and non-traditional methodologies. Soon to be author of ‘Peeling Back the Onion’ a sales manager’s handbook.”

Greg Christian
VP of worldwide sales and marketing, Kubisys
www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-christian/16/679/628

Christian’s profile contains everything. He belongs to more than 25 groups and he follows influencers, news and companies. He has recommendations from people who reported to him, worked with him or worked at another company.

A strong VP sales profile has recommendations from direct reports, CEOs, clients and partners. Also try to have at least two from your current position.

Lori Harmon
VP Sales, Contrast Security
www.linkedin.com/in/lorilharmon

This profile has a nice  header image, promoting her book and her LinkedIn group. Her summary reveals facts related to data breaches and answers: “What if you could …” with a list that communicates the end result of what her company does for clients.

She also takes advantage of LinkedIn’s media capabilities by including a video and slides. Harmon’s advice for contacting her includes her contact information, Twitter ID and links to a calendar so you can schedule a 15-minute call with her.

Dave Kent
VP director channel sales, Geocent
www.linkedin.com/in/davekent1

Dating back to 2002, Kent’s last five positions have recommendations. He has received more than 30 recommendations. The last one — as of this writing — is from 2010. It would boost his profile to have a more recommendation in his current position. Nonetheless, this is an exemplary profile.

More Inspiration

Kevin Kirksey
VP sales at Exinda Networks
www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-kirksey/2/829/262

Steve Milner
VP US enterprise sales, Rackspace
www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-milner/0/99b/b48

Mike Minelli
Former: Senior VP of sales, IntelliResponse Systems Inc; currently Global Sales Leader
www.linkedin.com/in/mikeminelli

Mike Montrose
VP marketing and sales, UniteU Technologies
www.linkedin.com/in/michaelmontrose

Dennis O’Leary
VP sales, east, SteelGlass Consulting
www.linkedin.com/pub/dennis-o-leary/5/913/763

Greg Petraetis
Global VP, big data, SAP
www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-petraetis/2/426/569

Jack Steeg
VP of business development, Ringdale Technologies, Inc
www.linkedin.com/pub/jack-steeg/2/aa/b89

Robert Wilson
VP global sales, EMC
www.linkedin.com/in/rwilson

What makes an effective VP sales LinkedIn profile? Please share a profile or two or describe what you’ve seen that has inspired you.

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    I have been running a marketing and PR firm since 1994. I love marketing and I love helping people grow their businesses. This blog lets me share what I've learned about marketing to help you generate more leads and sales for your company.
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