two ways to master linkedinBy now, many of us are familiar with and use LinkedIn to connect with colleagues and other people in our professional lives. But are you using it wisely in your sales activities? You’ve probably set up a basic profile for yourself and established connections… and then what? If you haven’t logged on to LinkedIn in weeks or months, then you’re probably missing out on some opportunities. But there are some easy ways to master using LinkedIn for sales.

You don’t have to become a LinkedIn expert overnight or spend countless hours mastering every feature to get value out of LinkedIn; that’s not the idea here. For those who are just getting started or have limited time to devote to it, focusing on just two key uses of LinkedIn will help make your selling activities more effective: networking and research.

Networking – Share & Stay Current

LinkedIn is a great opportunity to share information about you with others. Maybe you’ve been in a job for a long time and don’t see the need to connect with your contacts or make new ones on a regular basis. But you should – regularly. At the basic level, ensure you’re putting your best foot forward and staying connected by:

  • Making sure your profile is complete, including education, skills, past jobs, and interests – you never know if a common interest will trigger a conversation or help get you in the door
  • Including a photo of yourself to give clients and prospects a sense of familiarity if you have not yet met in person
  • Sharing your profile or your contacts – LinkedIn is meant to be social, so you should be open and share accordingly
  • Updating your profile with new skills, recognition, certifications and other details as appropriate to potentially open up opportunities with relevant clients and potential buyers
  • Logging on at least once a week to check for new connection opportunities or invitations from others to connect – you may be surprised that people you know, know the people you want to know

Research – Establish Credibility with Clients

When doing research on a client or prospect prior to your first meeting, where do you go? Many people will go to the company’s website and look at 10K and other publicly-available financial documents, which are all useful. But how do you learn about the people you’ll be meeting with? There’s a very good chance each of your contacts is already on LinkedIn, where you can gain a sense of their current position, background and skills. This will help you to:

  • Establish credibility by showing you took the time to understand not only their company, but each individual involved in the process
  • Give you an understanding of their world so you speak with them in a way that resonates with them
  • Identify connections in common to use to your advantage

Because sales people get so busy, it’s easy to cut corners. LinkedIn is easy to set up, use regularly and stay connected with clients, potential buyers and others that can influence your sales process. So start using LinkedIn for sales. Guaranteed – almost immediately, you will start seeing the results.

Janice MarsJanice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter