If you are looking to influence business professionals, LinkedIn is a great place to start.
With more than 100 million active users, it’s more than a careers site. It’s a platform with the stated aim of helping the world’s professionals to become ‘more productive and successful’. In trying to fulfil this aim, LinkedIn’s creators have developed a social media network that allows you to interact and influence your peers in a positive way.
I’m not saying LinkedIn is perfect. It certainly has its critics and came in for a lot of flak after Microsoft recently stumped up $26 billion to buy it. Numerous industry commentators scoffed, going as far as to describe it as an expensive turkey. And yes, it does have its faults.
The endorsements feature is irritating and largely untrustworthy, and attempts to stop spamming may have inadvertently led to many fruitful interactions in groups being killed off.
But despite its issues, the platform continues to evolve and provide professionals with a way to increase awareness of their service and boost their reputation. That’s why 94 per cent of B2B marketing professionals are active on the network.
If you want to join them, here are five ways you can influence people:
Person to person
I know it’s a cliché to say it, but people buy from people. And if you want to influence key people within an organisation, LinkedIn provides a way to connect and engage with them directly. You can reach them by commenting on their updates, through groups or via InMail. That’s not to say you should go out and start spamming people though. There are numerous ways you can become visible and earn the respect of the people you want to influence without being pushy. You can use your own updates and the Pulse post platform to become your own micro marketer. And the more active you are, the more visible you will be.
LinkedIn wants to be a network that helps people advance their careers, and as such many professionals are actively using the platform to seek general advice. This means people on the network are in a frame of mind where they want to hear from persuasive experts.
If you can assist another’s personal development or help them to be better in their job, they will appreciate it. This will also build awareness around you and your business – and increase the trust people have in you as an individual. This approach may not necessarily provide a quick sale but it will eventually pay dividends when people do require a service you offer.
Build a reputation in your niche
Rather than broadcasting to the masses, LinkedIn allows you to hone in on the people you really want to connect with – whether that’s prospects, partners or potential employees.
LinkedIn Groups may not be as active as they once were but LinkedIn’s blogging platform, Pulse, is providing a perfect way to demonstrate expertise in your niche – and encourage relevant individuals to interact with you. This platform is allowing brand spokespeople to raise awareness of their businesses, educate the market and influence decision making.
Be part of a prospect’s daily news feed
Around half of all users access LinkedIn via the mobile app. If you are anything like me, you’ll flick to this app on the way to work and scroll the news feed looking for stories relevant to your daily work.
As such, LinkedIn is now a trusted source of news for many. By sharing updates, publishing a blog on Pulse or commenting on posts, you have the opportunity to be visible within that daily news feed. For this reason, it’s the perfect place to influence a B2B audience relevant to you.
Impact the buyer journey
When it comes to modern day B2B procurement, the majority of research for a purchase is carried out online. People may initially conduct searches on Google but one of the most influential factors that actually affects the final purchase decision is peer to peer recommendations. There are few places better than LinkedIn where people can keep up with their peers and participate in the kind of digital word of mouth that will impact B2B buying.
One final thought
There aren’t many marketing channels where your prospects are as willing to listen to you as on LinkedIn. It is important to remember though that people are active on LinkedIn because they are looking for solutions to their problems.
So if you are going to connect with them, don’t be too pushy in selling your products and services. If you want to influence decision making, ensure you empathise with people’s issues and demonstrate you understand them.
This will help establish you as a credible expert, one they can trust to guide them in the right direction.
Paul Maher is head of content at Fourth Day PR.