Social Selling on LinkedIn: How Do You Measure Up?

social selling index linkedinLinkedIn just opened the Social Selling Index (SSI) Dashboard to all LinkedIn members. This is a benchmark to help you understand how effectively you are executing social sales on LinkedIn.

Take a quick look and see how you are doing. You can get your SSI number by logging into your profile, then going to:

Now that you have your number, let’s talk about why your SSI matters and what to do with this information.

Why your SSI matters

If you’re in sales, you’re probably being encouraged to do more social selling. But if your company is one of those that says “Do more on LinkedIn” and doesn’t give you additional support or guidance, it might not be clear what exactly you should be doing. For you, your SSI points you in the direction of specific actions you can take.

According to LinkedIn, salespeople who excel at social selling are 51 percent more likely to reach their quota. So your SSI can help you improve your capabilities in social sales – and it gives you a way to measure your progress.

What if you’re not in sales?

First, everyone sells. Even if you don’t sell a product, you are selling your ideas. Your LinkedIn profile is always working for you to promote your expertise and accomplishments. It helps you build trust and gain credibility.

Here’s a non-selling statistic from LinkedIn… Directors with high SSI scores get promoted 17 months faster than VPs with low SSI.

What your SSI measures

What does social selling mean? In “The Rise of Social Selling,” Koka Sexton defines it as “leveraging your professional brand to fill your pipeline with the right people, insights, and relationships.”

Your SSI dashboard tells you how you’re doing on the four pillars of social selling:

  • Establishing your professional brand.
  • Finding the right people.
  • Engaging with insights.
  • Building relationships.

Each of those four components is scored from 1 to 25, with a perfect score being 100.

Look at your own profile – is one of those areas much lower than the others? Let’s look at how to improve your score.

The following sections describe each pillar, what it means, and what you can do to enhance its score.

Establish your professional brand

Ensure you’ve created a complete profile with your target audience in mind. A customer-oriented profile demonstrates how you add value to your clients.

A complete profile has the following:

  • Your industry and location.
  • Up-to-date current position with a description.
  • Two past positions.
  • Education.
  • Minimum of three skills.
  • Profile photo.
  • More than 50 connections.

To increase this score, post status updates and publish insightful blog posts. In doing this, you improve your chances of engaging with buyers by a whopping 81 percent. Targeting B2B buyers? This climbs to 92 percent.

Receiving endorsements from clients, partners, and colleagues also expands your professional brand. Endorse other people’s skills and they’ll most likely do the same for you.

Find the right people

Who you connect with matters as it can affect your selling quota. That’s why knowing your ideal prospect is key. Once you’ve pinpointed your target audience, use LinkedIn’s search to find them.

Keep an eye on who has reviewed your profile. Something about your background brought these people to your profile. Studying their profiles gives you clues into the kind of people who might be ideal prospects. Connect with those who are a fit.

Engage with insights

Researching and connecting with people is only half of the battle. You can power up your SSI score and, in turn, your odds of making the sale by engaging on LinkedIn. Accomplish this by joining and participating in LinkedIn Groups, publishing blog posts, and sharing knowledge.

The secret is to share insights that aren’t self-serving. When you make the effort to curate valuable content and dole out general advice in Group discussions, prospects trust you more because you show that you care about their success.

Build relationships

Most B2B buyers prefer to connect with people when they’re referred by someone they know. It also makes you more likely to be viewed as favorable when a B2B buyer meets you through someone from the buyer’s network. With buying decisions now involving an average of more than five decision makers, you need all the help you can get.

Don’t forget your own company’s network. Your colleagues can be a stepping stone to reaching more decision makers. Because buying decisions often involve multiple decision makers, you want to reach as many as you can in each company — not just one. And the way to do that is to nurture relationships through a consistent stream of beneficial content and insights.

Put your SSI score to work

Now you have a way to measure your SSI capabilities to check your progress. It looks like LinkedIn is updating this daily – and maybe continuously. My score was 79 yesterday morning, but I was able to get it up to 80 by the afternoon by sharing a few more status updates and touching base with a few connections.

social selling index dashboard

While I’m pleased with my score overall, I see that I can work on engaging with insights. To bring that part of my score up, I will be doing more status updates and bump up my participation in groups.

How about you? What will you be doing to bring up your score?

ProResource’s Approach to LinkedIn Recruiting for Small Technology Companies

proresource linkedin recruitmentWhat does recruiting mean to you?

For some business owners and managers in technology, recruiting conjures up images of sifting through endless piles of applications, uncomfortable interviews, and lost productivity from open positions.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Companies that understand how to use modern techniques for recruiting will find that there is a much easier way to connect with talented IT professionals interested in career advancement.

One of those methods is LinkedIn. The rise of social media means that companies can instantly connect with candidates with the right skills and experience. According to LinkedIn’s 2015 Global Recruiting Trends Report, in the past four years the amount of quality hires from social professional networks has increased 73%.

At ProResource, we make it easy for companies to use LinkedIn to build relationships with potential new hires.

How do we do it? Our process involves four key steps:

1. Understand our clients’ needs

We take time to gain a deep understanding of the kind of candidate that our clients are looking for. From certifications to employment history, we analyze every part of a person’s profile to see if they would be a good fit.

2. Perform a search based on skills and area

With a good sense of what our clients are looking for, we use our years of experience searching LinkedIn to perform targeted keyword searches that identify the right people in the client’s geographic area.

3. Send a connect request directly from the CEO’s account

After identifying fitting prospects, ProResource sends carefully crafted introductions through LinkedIn directly from the account of your CEO or hiring manager. These inquiries are sent as connect requests. They clearly state the sender’s interest in having the candidate apply for an open position with the company.

4. Follow up with specific job information

Once the candidate has accepted the connect request, we follow up with a message that offers information about the company and a link to a full description of the available role. This message also includes a referral request, in case the person isn’t interested but knows someone who might be.

Why does it work?

ProResource has found tremendous success matching qualified candidates to open positions at small technology companies using this approach, for several reasons:

  • Candidates and employers can build a more personal relationship. Prospective hires are contacted directly by the interested company, which makes them more inclined to respond to the request. Even if they aren’t interested in a current opening, these connections become a part of your network, which makes it easy to reach out to them for future opportunities.
  • The best hires are often those who aren’t actively looking for a job. In fact, research shows that 85% of employees in the workforce are either open to talking to a recruiter, looking for a job, or reaching out to their personal network for opportunities. By engaging these passive candidates on LinkedIn, employers broaden their access to the talent pool.
  • New hires get to learn more about prospective employers. To perform at the highest possible level, new hires must feel comfortable with their employer. ProResource’s approach to recruiting allows this to happen much earlier in the hiring process, since candidates who are contacted will almost instantly begin familiarizing themselves with your company.

Unlike recruiting agencies, we don’t take a percentage of the new hire’s salary. Our LinkedIn recruiting services are billed at a flat rate of $1700 per month. In our experience, one month of reaching out to qualified candidates is all that is required for small technology companies to fill their vacant positions.

For more information, check out the ProResource page on LinkedIn recruiting services or contact us directly.

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, 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.

Did You Know? You Can Download Your LinkedIn History

You can request an archive of your LinkedIn data for free regardless of your membership level. Why do that? Those in professions with regulations might need the information for an audit or to confirm compliance. For most, it means having access to insights about your activity, connections and profile.

For example, you can see the number of endorsements you’ve received, how many times you’ve searched LinkedIn and what ads you’ve clicked on based on what LinkedIn knows about you in the Ad Targeting.csv file.

Learnings from looking at my LinkedIn data

The Connections.csv file lists all your first degree connections along with their email addresses, current company and current position. Having this in a spreadsheet can prove useful for your marketing and sales efforts outside of LinkedIn.

I discover that my profile has an email address that I no longer use and removed it. Looking at the endorsement file, I have 800 endorsements dating back to 2012. Opening this file in Excel makes it easier to review the information especially when I use the filter tool to sort endorsements by a person’s name. (The default is by date.)

Thanks to these files, I discover something important. I have a few hidden recommendations that I didn’t know about! Usually, I receive an email whenever a new recommendation comes in. Apparently, not for these.

According to the search queries file, I’ve performed almost 700 searches since 2013. That number is low because a lot of the queries I’ve done a couple of months ago don’t appear. (I remember because I was doing special research.)

After you request the archived data, it takes LinkedIn up to 72 hours to compile the data. It only took 24 hours. Once completed, you’ll receive an email with a download link to the zipped file. To protect your privacy, you have 72 hours to download it before the link is no longer available.

You’ll see the same spreadsheet files as shown in the first image shows. The image names and number of files will be different for you.

Possible items included in LinkedIn archived data LinkedIn archives windows folder

This is a complete list of all the possible files in the LinkedIn archived data. However, you won’t receive a file if it doesn’t apply to your account. For example, if you don’t have certifications, then that file won’t be included.

Review LinkedIn’s Accessing Your Account Data for the highlights of what’s covered when you download your LinkedIn Data, which includes the readme.txt. This lists the following items you might see in the archived data.

Account Status History: Time and date you created, closed or reopened your LinkedIn account.

Ad Targeting: Information LinkedIn uses to determine what ads to show you.

Ads Clicked: Ads you’ve clicked on.

Certifications: Certifications included in your profile.

Comments: Comments you’ve posted in LinkedIn other than in Groups. Each comment includes the date posted, URL of the comment, the item that you commented on and the item’s type of content (article, share, new job, etc.).

Connections: Your first degree connections.

Courses: Courses you’ve included in your profile.

Education: Schools included in your profile, the dates attended, degrees earned and activities.

Email Addresses: All the email addresses you’ve used on LinkedIn, the date added and the date removed. It also notes the primary address you currently use to receive LinkedIn communications.

Endorsement Info: Names of people who have endorsed you, the skills they endorsed and the date they gave the endorsement. It also shows whether you accepted endorsement and display it in your profile or if it’s hidden.

Group Comments: Comments you’ve posted in LinkedIn Groups along with the title of the discussion, name of the group and the URL of the discussion.

Group Likes: Your likes in LinkedIn Groups. Each like includes the date liked, title of the post, content of post (if available), type of post (article, share, new job, etc.) and URL of the post (if available).

Group Posts: Similar to comments except these are Group discussions you’ve started. This information includes post titles, the post, time of post, group name and URL to the post.

Honors: Honors in your profile along with the description, who gave it to you and the date.

Inbox: All the messages in your Messages, Sent, Archive and Trash (unemptied) folders. The file includes message dates, the messages, subject line and whether it was incoming or outgoing.

Languages: Languages you included in your profile along with the level of proficiency.

Likes: All your likes in LinkedIn other than in Groups. Each like includes the date liked, title of the post, content of post (if available), type of post (article, share, new job, etc.) and URL of the post (if available).

Login Attempts: Login history for your account including your computer’s IP address, country of origin based on IP address, user agent (typically a web browser), data of login and login type.

Login types

  • Website Login: Signed in through LinkedIn’s website or its mobile app.
  • Third Party Login: Signed in through another site, such as selecting “Login with LinkedIn” button on another website. Some people use social sign in to log into a website without creating a new account. Some sites offer LinkedIn as a social sign in option.

Mobile Applications: LinkedIn applications you’ve installed on your devices associated with your account and the date you installed them.

Name Changes: Any name changes, the date of the change and the language used.

Organizations: Organizations included in your profile along with a description, your position and how long you were there.

Patents: Patents you hold along with the issue date and filing number.

Phone Numbers: Phone numbers you’ve included in your LinkedIn account.

Photos: Images you’ve shared in LinkedIn. These appear in their original format, which could be .jpg, .png or .gif.

Positions: Jobs you’ve included in your profile along with the companies, titles, duties, locations and dates.

Profile: Biographical information in your profile.

Projects: Projects you’ve included in your profile along with the title, length of project, description and web address.

Publications: Publications in your profile.

Recommendations Given: Recommendations you’ve given along with the name of the person and the date you wrote it. It does not include the recommendation itself.

Recommendations Received: Recommendations you’ve received along with the names of the people giving the recommendation, the date they wrote it and whether it’s displayed in your profile. It does not include the recommendation itself.

Registration Info: Date you registered on LinkedIn, the IP address you registered from, your current subscription type and the member who invited you, if there was one.

Search Queries: Your recent LinkedIn searches.

Security Challenges: Challenge events, such as when you logged in from an unfamiliar computer or device and when you’ve used two-factor authentication to confirm your identity. Details include the date of the challenge, the IP address of your device or computer you used to log in, assumed country and type of challenge.

Shares: Your shares, re-shares and posts on items appearing on the home page, company pages and university pages. Data includes date, title, description, share visibility (private or public), link to images (if any) and URL.

Skills: Skills in your profile.

Items not included in archived data

Missing from this data is People You May Know and Who’s Viewed Your Profile. You also won’t see a list of people you’ve invited to connect, messages you’ve sent outside of groups or who liked and commented on your posts.

You can find out what information LinkedIn collects on its Privacy Policy page. This page also explains how the service uses your personal information.

How to request an archive of your LinkedIn data

Here are the steps to request an archive of your data:

1. Move your cursor over your profile photo at the top right of your homepage and select “Privacy & Settings.”

LinkedIn archives instructions steps

2. Sign in, if prompted.

3. Select the “Account” tab near the bottom of the page.

4. Select “Request an archive of your data” under “Helpful Links”.

LinkedIn for VPs of Sales: Enhance Your Profile

linkedin vp profile networkLinkedIn has become a valuable social selling tool for sales people. While VPs of sales typically don’t do the selling, you represent the company. Furthermore, clients and prospects will do a search online to learn more about you and your company before they connect. Your VP of sales LinkedIn profile is most likely to appear at the top of the search results.

While you may not control what digital property of yours appears at the top of search results, you can control what your LinkedIn profile says about you. Take this opportunity to use these tips to improve your VP of sales LinkedIn profile.

Begin with your summary

Because of its narrative style, the summary is one of the most read sections in your profile. This is where you tell your business story. It’s your best chance to attract interest. Sales people are known for being great storytellers. Ensure your summary does just that.

In the summary, show people who you are by sharing what’s important to you and what your goal is for your sales department. Some VPs of sales list achievements in beating sales quotas, some get personal in talking about the things they like to do when not at work, and some add a touch of humor.

Mike Chasteen, VP sales and marketing at Lanvera, has a short ‘n’ sweet summary. He opens: “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.”

He briefly states that he works to empower sales people and he’s an author. You can see what kind of experience he has in sales and he makes an impression with his short summary.

Another useful thing to include in your summary is what you’re looking to do with connections you meet on LinkedIn like David Cassady’s summary does. “I am on Linkedin to strengthen business relations and ensure customer success,” he writes.

Show how well you’re connected

Unless a person has more than 500 connections, LinkedIn lists how many connections you have in your profile. After 500, LinkedIn simply uses “500+,” so that’s the ideal number to target. For sales VPs, you should have no trouble making your number. Visitors to your LinkedIn profile will instantly know how well you connect with others.

They’ll also look for connections that have in common with you. So, it’s worth your time to connect with the right people. Ideal connections include your fellow executives, partners, key customers, employees, and influencers in your industry, such as editors and bloggers.

Support your experience with recommendations

Under the experience section, most LinkedIn users just outline what they do and their responsibilities. In reviewing many profiles of VP of sales, it turns out they’re thorough in sharing their experience, achievements, and more. No one stands out with an empty experience section.

Sales VP and teams live and die by their numbers, so it should be effortless to post results. Executives, clients and potential employees will want to know what you’ve accomplished. Ask yourself: As VP of sales, what results make me most proud? What outcomes did my sales team get for our company and customers?

Endorsements for skills are great, but recommendations are better. It takes more time and thought to write recommendations. Strengthen your experience by ensuring you have recommendations for your current and most recent positions. The most impressive recommendations come from customers, executives, and partners. Most people will agree to write one if you ask.

Better yet, most return the favor when you write recommendations for them. LinkedIn usually sends an email when people receive a new recommendation. That email also asks if the recipient wants to return the favor by writing a recommendation.

Get more exposure

Media — such as photos, videos, slideshows, and articles — balances a profile by adding color and visuals within all the text. To get more speaking engagements, add videos of your presenting.

Do you accept media interviews? Then, include articles with quotes from you. Have you written articles? Post those too.

Look past your connections

You may not know Bill Gates personally, but you can sort of connect with him by following him. The difference between following and connecting is that you’re not required to know the person or the company. Why bother? It’s an easy way to show who and what companies interest you. These include thought leaders in your industry, key partners, and important customers.

For example, a sales VP at a software company would follow respected influencers and experts in tech and software.  These could be editors, journalists, and bloggers whose beats include tech topics or they work for a tech publication. Other thought leaders include industry analysts, tech consultants, CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, and sales VPs at other tech companies.

Don’t forget to follow company pages of clients, partners, publications, relevant professional organizations and complementary companies that would make good partners.

Find clients and influencers

LinkedIn Groups are valuable for connecting with people and forging relationships. It allows you to join up to 50 groups. Shoot for 20 at the very least.

So many groups. How to decide? Begin with the ones your customers join. Seek groups related to your industry and the type of work you do. A VP of sales at a software company with a target market of developers would look for groups related to software development and tech.

LinkedIn has almost 2 million groups. A quick search for the keywords “software development” produces 4,000 results! A VP of sales can get more specific by adding keywords related to the software product.

Since you already have some connection with the people in your alumni and favorite nonprofit organizations, join them.

Don’t miss a sales opportunity

Many LinkedIn profiles include a link to the company website, but not to other important resources. As a sales VP, you know people are more likely to buy from the people they know. Good links to include would be your company’s social media pages, blogs, FAQ, and other sources for more information about your company’s products or services.

You know buyers do the majority of their research before ever contacting the company. Help them by making it easy to find resources from your company. And it could lead to another sale.

What else can you do to boost your sales VP LinkedIn profile?

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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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