A Starter Guide to LinkedIn Social Selling for Consultants
Did you know that you could use LinkedIn to find more clients? Unlike other social media platforms that focus more on entertainment and news, LinkedIn is the one that can help you close new projects and strengthen professional relationships, and that’s basically what social selling is.
If you spend some time scrolling through LinkedIn, you will notice profiles of freelance consultants with titles like ‘ex-McKinsey’, ‘ex-BCG’, etc. It’s because a lot of highly experienced consultants are now embracing the freelance lifestyle - and they are using LinkedIn to grow their client base!
If you are not used to finding new clients through LinkedIn, this article will help you get started. Let’s begin with basic tips for linkedin social selling.
Don't focus on social selling, Search for the Right Prospects First
How many clients do you need at a time to become a successful freelance consultant? Actually, not too many. Even one big project every quarter could do the trick. If not, then it's okay to work on two to three small-scale projects that help you earn your desired income.
Social selling on LinkedIn comes second, finding the right people to sell to comes first - and that’s what salespeople call prospecting. Many consultants optimize LinkedIn for prospecting and closing sales. So, you should do it too. If you are willing to spend some extra coin, you could sign up for LinkedIn Premium and use their Sales Navigator. Even if you don’t, you can still use the search bar and type the professional designation, region, company, etc. of your ideal client. For example, you could search for CEOs of FMCG companies in London and add them to your list of prospects.
Do Not Start a Professional Relationship With a Sales Pitch
Once you have a list of potential clients, you should start building a relationship with them. A lot of people, especially the ones who do not read articles like this one, make a very common rookie mistake while social selling on LinkedIn - they send a copy-pasted sales pitch as their first message. If you use LinkedIn on a regular basis, chances are, you may have received a message that looks like this: “Hey XYZ, buy my product and you will get blah, blah, blah benefits” or “Hi XYZ, download my free eBook….”
You see, LinkedIn is a social platform, so you have to socialize a little first before you get down to business (we will discuss how to do this in the next point). Please, even if you’re desperate to close a new project, do not start sending automated sales pitches to dozens of people on LinkedIn at the same time. That’s an intrusive way to use LinkedIn marketing and certainly not the best way to optimize LinkedIn. Build rapport first, provide value first, be on their radar first - the sale will follow soon.
Personalize Your Interaction
That’s how you can begin the ‘socializing’ part in LinkedIn marketing. You shouldn’t look like a bot who’s sending generic, needy, and poorly written sales pitches to many people - you want to appear like a human.
There are a lot of ways to do this, and it all begins when you send your prospects an invitation to connect. LinkedIn gives you an option to add a note before you send an invitation request to someone - take full advantage of it. For instance, you could write:
“Hey John, I have been following your company’s LinkedIn posts and I really like your Health and Nutrition series. It’d be great to connect with you. - Regards, Anna”
Once you connect, you should also engage with their content. Did your prospect post something recently? What do you feel about it? What’s your opinion? Let them know in the comments. The bottom line is, they should know that you exist. If you want to directly talk about sales, you could just call companies on the phone. However, that’s not how you can optimize LinkedIn. You should always keep the social aspect of LinkedIn marketing in mind and do some online socializing before getting down to sales.
Optimize Linkedin, Have a Kickass Profile
LinkedIn marketing is not always about prospecting and selling. You could be the best freelance consultant, but if you haven’t created an attractive profile, potential clients may not take you seriously. Simply start with the basics, that is, upload a professional-looking profile and background picture, write a compelling copy in the About section, and don't forget to write your job duties in the Experience section. Next, reach out to your previous work colleagues and clients and ask them to write you recommendations on LinkedIn.
Even if you do only this, then social selling on LinkedIn could be way easier for you as compared to someone who has not polished their profile yet. Remember, when you send invitations to your prospects or leave comments on their posts or try to close a sale, they may go through your profile and analyze it thoroughly. So, make sure to have a kickass LinkedIn profile that positions you as a force to be reckoned with.
Stay the Course and Repeat the Cycle
Social selling on LinkedIn is very much possible and a lot of professionals, including consultants, optimize LinkedIn to close more sales. And if you have never done it before, then it’s highly recommended that you should start. But remember, unlike outbound sales tactics that bring your prospects to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ stage relatively quickly, social selling on LinkedIn may take some time. Of course, you could use outbound marketing on LinkedIn as well and go straight for the sale before building a relationship, but chances are, you may come off as an intrusive salesperson because users get so many sales pitches in their LinkedIn inbox on a daily basis.
You don’t want to be just another person trying to sell something on LinkedIn. It is better to make interactions personal. Make sure your prospects know who you are and remember you. Be patient with LinkedIn marketing and stay the course. At the same time, you should also keep looking for new clients through other channels, such as online consulting platforms.