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LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks in the world and if you could rank it by the amount of business that has been generated it would undoubtedly be at the top. After all, LinkedIn is the one platform that people use while thinking about their business and to network with other professionals. That’s why it’s ripe for lead generation and career purposes, unlike Twitter and Facebook which are more ‘social’ and less ‘network.’

As a business owner, LinkedIn should be a priority for you and your marketing team. It has the potential to bring in a considerable number of leads and can also bring you other opportunities like referral partners, joint ventures, speaking engagements, or simply better professional awareness. Unfortunately, very few people understand how to use LinkedIn for lead generation, let alone for gaining brand awareness.

Here are 5 specific strategies you can use to generate leads for your business using LinkedIn:

1. Cold Connect

Perhaps the simplest and most common tactic for using LinkedIn for lead generation is to connect with people through the search function. Using LinkedIn, you can search for people who are likely to be your customers, i.e., they work in your target industry, they are the senior management, and they have many connections.

While cold connecting is going to have a low conversion rate, the same as cold calling, it’s still a useful tactic that can be incredibly profitable once it is scaled. Some of the most prominent corporations in the world use cold calling and emailing as a sales generation tactic because it works.

When you connect with people without being introduced or first warming up the lead you are going to have to work hard to convert them into paying customers. With this in mind, one common approach is to engage in light conversation and perhaps even meet the person before trying to sell to them.

If you’ve really done your best to target the people and roles you can help most – you also can take the approach of trying to say one or two sentences about the value you would provide, should they try to engage you. This will be most effective for busy business owners or those you’re connecting with about services that will save them time, like the example below of someone reaching out to me:

LinkedIn Lead Generation | Thinkific Online Course Platform

By doing this, you can warm them up which should help to boost your conversion rate when it comes to trying to make the final sale. The best way in which you can warm up your contacts is by offering them value. First, this could be in the form of advice or a tangible benefit to their business.

For example; if you were selling clothing then you might engage in conversation and then send them a piece of clothing as a gift. On the other hand, it could also be a suggestion from your expertise that would improve their business. Either way, by providing value you make it far more likely that they will continue to engage with you and potentially buy in the future.

2. Warm Connect

While cold connecting is ideal for those that don’t have connections yet on LinkedIn, the ideal method for connecting with people is an introduction. These so-called ‘warm’ contacts are more likely to convert because they have been recommended or introduced by somebody that they trust, and this social validation goes a long way.

As often as you can, you should reach out to your mutual connections and ask for an introduction. To make it as easy as possible for your colleagues you can send them a short list of people you want to connect with and also a quick paragraph that they can copy and paste to these people.

By doing this, you drastically decrease the effort that is required from your colleagues, and this should make it more likely that they will follow through. Putting in your time upfront to do this is worth it because the benefit of an introduction is vast when compared to a cold connection.

LinkedIn Lead Generation | Thinkific Online Course Platform

3. Reconnect

Tending to existing connections can be as big as the previous two options combined. Existing connections that you already have, can be massive in making LinkedIn work for you. Let people know that you’re rooting for them – or that you’re available just by being friendly and perhaps asking them if they’d like to go out to lunch. LinkedIn + being open to bring people out to lunch is perhaps the most no pressure, but effective way to really drive awareness of what you’re doing. If they aren’t direct prospects, they still might be great referral partners (formally or informally).

LinkedIn Lead Generation | Thinkific Online Course Platform

4. Participate in Discussion Groups

As well as connecting with people directly you should also consider workgroup discussions to get your name out there. People often click on the names of those who are engaging in conversations to find out more about them, and this gives you an opportunity to spread brand awareness.

Joining as many different active groups related to your business gives you more opportunities to engage in discussions and get your name out there. But rather than doing what most people do and leaving short and pointless comments you should try your best to leave an insightful comment that adds value to the discussion.

Not only is this going to make it more likely that people will visit your profile but it will also encourage others to reply to you, fueling more conversation and pushing your comment to the top of the list.

Groups are arguably the second most important method for finding leads, but nothing is superior to being the center of attention.

5. Post Updates and Share Content

The users who get the most attention and can, therefore, acquire the most leads are those that go viral on the platform. If you are new to LinkedIn you might not be aware, but just as with Twitter and Facebook, individual posts will go viral, and those users will experience a massive surge in the number of leads that they get.

Similarly to Facebook, LinkedIn allows you post status updates and to share content with other users on the platform. Your connections will then see your posts; they can like them and even share the post with their contacts. You are going to get more awareness if your connections can like and share your content with theirs.

One hack for LinkedIn vitality is always to post content directly on the platform rather than sharing links to other websites. Within their algorithm, for virality and awareness, they seem to get priority to content on their site rather than linked videos or other websites.

The logic behind this is likely that it keeps users on LinkedIn and therefore will boost revenue for Microsoft. The articles you post directly on the platform get featured on your profile and do better in LinkedIn’s algorithm. Consider posting your absolute best content directly on the platform, and think about the way people actually use LinkedIn, compared to how they might use your blog.

LinkedIn Lead Generation | Thinkific Online Course Platform

For example – the article ‘5 Common Mistakes CMO’s Make When Planning Marketing Budgets’ was me recognition both that higher level decision makers might be using LinkedIn to find key employees/hires, and me creating a piece of content to accompany and promote my Digital Market Budgeting Calculator. Always be thinking about how people use the platform – and wield the algorithm that favors on platform content in similar ways.

LinkedIn is a personal platform – use it wisely

Rather than focusing on ‘the event’ or making a big splash once on your LinkedIn, find ways to create healthy habits around marketing yourself on LinkedIn. It’s a very personal platform (like most social media platforms), so be a person, first and foremost. Don’t hide behind a CEO title, or your company. The most successful examples I’ve seen of LinkedIn marketing, include making yourself and your company more approachable, and less formal – while providing inspiration and value.

How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads for Your Business @hookagency #socialmediamarketing #linkedin #leadgeneration Click To Tweet

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency and is a passionate marketer, designer, and SEO specialist out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.