How to Use LinkedIn to Build Relationships and Generate Leads

social media how to Are you using LinkedIn to your advantage?

Do you use LinkedIn marketing tactics to generate more leads?

Over the past year, LinkedIn has added and revamped some important tools that can streamline your marketing, networking and outreach.

In this article you’ll find the latest LinkedIn features and how you can use them to your benefit.

#1: Stay In Touch On The Contacts Page

Think of your Contacts page as your control center. It’s where you keep track of your long list of connections, but it also offers alerts and tags. These features, along with helpful filtering options, keep everything organized and easily accessible.

Alerts are in the boxes at the top of the page. They let you know when your contacts have a significant event happening, like a job change, work anniversary or birthday. Use these alerts to your advantage and send a quick note to acknowledge their success. They’ll appreciate the gesture and it’s a great way to keep in touch (and top of mind).

contact alerts

Watch the alerts at the top of your page to keep up with and respond to your connections.

Moving down the page, you’ll see a list of your contacts. When you hover over a profile, you have the option to add the person to a tag, send a direct message, hide his or her profile or delete the contact.

tag contacts

You can tag, message, hide or delete connections right from the Contacts page.

The Tag feature allows you to save members—whether you’re connected to them or not—into useful lists for easy organization and sorting.

contact with a tag

You can add your connections to tags and lists to easily find or sort them.

The sorting and filtering features are handy when you want to quickly find all of your contacts related to a specific campaign, company, etc. You can sort by Recent Conversation, Last Name, First Name and New—it’s basic and quick.

Filtering gives you a few more options like Company, Location, Title, Saved, Hidden, Potential Duplicates and Connections (i.e., your first-degree connections).

If you’ve connected your LinkedIn account to your email contacts or an app, you can filter by All Contacts and Source (contacts imported from a specific app or email source).

Here’s a quick tip: If you add people you’re not connected with to your tags, you may not remember who you are and aren’t connected with. You can quickly figure it out by looking at the color of the little In box on the right side of each contact. If the box is blue, you are a first-degree connection. If the box is grey, you are not directly connected.

contact levels

Use the In box to easily distinguish between first-level connections and people you aren’t connected to.

#2: Add Media To Your Profile And Notes About Others’

I’m sure you already have an attractive LinkedIn profile with a great headshot and professional portfolio, but have you added rich media yet? You can enhance your profile by sharing images, videos, PDF files or SlideShare presentations. Just click over to your Edit Profile screen and upload your achievements.

LinkedIn says over 10 million pictures, videos and presentations have already been uploaded to profiles!

premium portfolio

Make your profile stand out and showcase your skills with rich media.

Have you checked out your contacts’ profiles lately? It’s no longer just a list of their accomplishments and skills. You have some valuable tools that allow you to make your own private notes to remember key information about each person.

Just below a member’s image and headline is the Relationship and Contact Info box.

The Contact Info tab is a quick look at that person’s email and other social profiles they’ve shared.

The Relationship tab is where you’ll find the real functionality. You can see a timeline of your association (including the date you connected), as well as conversations you’ve had on LinkedIn. You can also add notes, set a reminder to follow up, record how you met and assign a tag to the person. Don’t worry, they won’t see your updates! This is purely for you.

reminder feature

The Reminder feature is a quick way to stay organized with your outreach activities.

#3: Manage Messages In Your Inbox

Your Inbox, of course, is where you’ll find your new messages, sent messages and invitations.

Much like Facebook, when someone invites you to connect on LinkedIn, you can see any shared connections. Unlike Facebook, you can also reply to the request without accepting it—use the Reply (don’t accept yet) option. This is handy if you need to ask a question or send a clarification before accepting a request.

connection request reply

You can reply to LinkedIn members who send you connection requests before you accept.

As for sending messages, you can either use the Compose button, then type the name of the person you’re sending the message to, or you can go to your Contacts page and select the contact you want to send to.

You can send a message to up to 50 people, so the Contacts page option is much easier than typing in 50 names—use tags and lists as an even quicker way to find the people you’re looking for!

One last note: When you send a message to multiple recipients, make sure to deselect the “Allow recipients to see each other’s names and email addresses.”

#4: Increase Engagement Opportunities In Groups

One of LinkedIn’s most valuable features has always been LinkedIn groups. They’re extremely useful for meeting new connections in your industry and establishing yourself as a thought leader. Regular participation goes a long way toward building trust with others in the group.

If your brand has its own group page, you’ll appreciate the rotating hero image and manager’s choice posts at the top of a group’s Discussions page. These allow for more streamlined branding within the group and increase the exposure of popular or important posts chosen by your group’s administrator.

hero header image

The rotating hero image and manager’s choice posts can increase group interest and engagement.

As you’re looking for groups to join, check out not just the discussions, but also the top contributors. See any familiar faces or people you want to meet?

The Top Contributors section is meant to improve the quality and quantity of content and interactions within groups and is recalculated every day. Regular positive interaction, like posting and commenting, raises a member’s standing in the group while promotional, spam, negative or inappropriate content drops their contributor level.

top contributors section

Find Top Contributors in the top right corner of each LinkedIn group with your own contribution level located just below.

If you’re already in a group, you can find your personal group status just below the Top Contributors box. You can see discussions you’ve started (including those pending approval) and other discussions you’re participating in or following.

If you want to make it into the Top Contributors box, make it a point to post regularly and share content that’s relevant to the group. Take the time to read and engage thoughtfully with other posts and group members.

#5: Promote Your Brand And Content With A Company Pages

Have you established a LinkedIn company page for your business? You can customize the banner image at the top of the home page, set featured groups and take advantage of showcase pages.

Showcase pages benefit both businesses and users. As a business, you can focus your message and share content and updates you’ve created for specific audiences. And you can even track your success because showcase pages have separate analytics pages. Users can choose to follow showcase pages they’re interested in without having to follow the company page.

To improve your page’s visibility, I suggest using the Sponsored Updates feature. Sponsored updates are simply company updates that you pay to promote to a targeted audience. They can greatly increase the exposure and reach of your company page.

sponsored update

Sponsored updates are a good way to increase the exposure of your company page.

You can target your sponsored content based on a number of options, including location, company name or category, job title and category, schools attended or LinkedIn groups.

To get maximum engagement on a sponsored update, include a catchy headline and a clear call to action. Keep in mind that updates with links can drive double the engagement and images generally result in a 98% higher engagement rate.

To determine the value and engagement of your sponsored update, check your company page analytics (if you’re an administrator). Keep track of your regular posts and your page’s overall reach, engagement, follower demographics and how the page compares to similar pages.

analytics

Use company page analytics to figure out what kinds of updates get the most engagement.

#6: Check Out Other LinkedIn Features

Three additional LinkedIn features you should take advantage of are Who’s Viewed Your Updates, LinkedIn Pulse and the LinkedIn mobile app.

You’ll find Who’s Viewed Your Updates in a box on the right side of your LinkedIn home page. It shows you how many people have viewed your most recent updates, and how many likes and comments each update received. The benefit of this feature is that it illustrates not only the views and interactions of your first-degree connections, but also your second- and third-degree connections.

views analytics

Discover the reach and engagement of your updates with the Who’s Viewed Your Updates feature.

Previously known as LinkedIn Today, LinkedIn Pulse is an excellent way to find new and relevant content to stay updated on topics of interest or to share. You can access LinkedIn Pulse via your home page feed or the Pulse app on mobile devices.

The LinkedIn mobile app is now available for most devices (including both iOS and Android) and provides an easy way for you to access your contacts and calendars wherever you go.

The app allows you to choose which connections you add to your phone contacts (it doesn’t just download them all). But the app does say it will do a one-time scan of your phone contacts to see whom you’re not connected to.

linkedin mobile app

Easily access your LinkedIn contacts on the LinkedIn mobile app.

If you have a large network, you may want to think twice before downloading your entire LinkedIn contacts list to your smartphone’s address book. Hundreds of imported contacts could be a nightmare to manage.

The features I shared here are my favorites.

I’ve found them to be the most useful for professionals, business owners and salespeople. The options are robust and offer an easy way to centrally manage your contacts, leads and campaign players no matter where you are.

What do you think? What’s your favorite LinkedIn feature to manage your account and connections? Your least favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author, Melonie Dodaro

Melonie Dodaro, is the author of the #1 international bestseller The LinkedIn Code. She is also the founder of Top Dog Social Media and dubbed by the media as Canada’s #1 LinkedIn expert. Other posts by »




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  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    Melonie thanks for sharing such awesome advice! Enhancing your profile by sharing images, videos, PDF files or SlideShare presentations, I think is a must. Today high-quality content is your most potent form of advertising.

  • http://relate.ly/ Matt Kress

    #7 – Share interesting and related content about your expertise to help establish yourself as a trusted advisor.
    Sharing on LinkedIn is an often overlooked way of adding value, especially for people using the mobile app since the “home” section puts updates there and anything visual gets attention.
    Great advice! I need to do step up my LinkedIn game with #2. :)

  • Tom V

    These are all great pieces of advice. The one piece of advice I have not seen is how do you politely and properly prompt your contacts for what they may know about a job opportunity? 97% of jobs are filled by networking but how do you make that connection. Explicit announcements are not cool, but just being passive and waiting on an implicit message doesn’t work either. Any Advice?

  • Kelly Tutt

    Great advice Melonie! Learning to better use the tools we already have at hand = Excellence!

  • Melonie Dodaro

    I’m glad you found it informative Kelly.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    If you are a first level contact with someone Tom, just reach out and ask them for their advice and if they know anything more about a job opportunity you are interested in. Tell them your why. People by nature want to be helpful when you approach it right.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    It’s so true Matt, content has become more important than ever and combined with utilizing LinkedIn strategically it can produce amazing results.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    You know it Patrick ;)

  • http://www.coleenbarrycopywriting.com Coleen Barry

    I have found LinkedIn to be quite frustrating. I’m fairly new to it (obviously) and only have a handful of contacts so far. I wanted to join groups to spread my reach and hopefully make new contacts through engagement. But I have spent so many hours searching through groups and joining some, only to leave a short time later because there is no discussion or engagement on any posts in the groups. I’m not talking about posts I’ve made – I’m just speaking of posts anyone makes in the groups. I don’t feel it’s worthwhile to post in groups that have no members discussing other people’s posts.

    I’ve read so many articles on the value of LinkedIn and its groups, but so far I just haven’t seen it. Obviously I guess I have to find the right groups, but how many hours does one have to spend to find the active, engaged groups?

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Coleen I agree, you do need to find the right groups. When you are searching for new groups along with seeing how many members they have you can also see how many discussions they’ve had in the past month.

  • http://kerilynnengel.com/ KeriLynn Engel

    Thanks for these great tips, Melanie :) I didn’t know about tagging; I’m off to try it now!

  • http://www.coleenbarrycopywriting.com Coleen Barry

    Melonie, I’ve just recently discovered the stats and will start looking at them when checking out groups.

    Also, do you think groups with a larger number of members or smaller number of members are better? It seems like large numbers will increase your range, but can also lead to disengagement; whereas a smaller number limits your range, but can increase familiarity and engagement.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Wonderful Keri.

  • Chris Bantock

    Melonie – some great tips here – really useful. In your opinion how effective is sponsored content on LinkedIn. I have read mixed reports and would be very interested to hear your take on these.

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Excellent article Melonie. My account layout has been updated only recently, so this post arrives just in time to put some of your tips in practice. Do you know if there’s a limit in the amount of files you could show on a particular job?

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Coleen, in my experience I’ve seen a bit of both: large groups with zero interaction and small ones where there’s always some interesting conversation. It takes time to find the best ones, but they are there.

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great post!

    I like participating in groups because you get to connect with people and add value at the same time. I’m not getting much use out of advertising on LinkedIn. Referrals and my writing portfolio are more valuable.

  • http://www.deswalsh.com Des Walsh

    A good list and nice illustrations, thank you. A word of caution however, if I may, on hitting the congrats item for “new job”. The LinkedIn algorithm has evidently not been tweaked to distinguish a new job from a new or revised entry on a profile. For example, today I am prompted to congratulate someone on a new job and when I look at her profile sure enough it is for the position she has held since December last year and on which I have already congratulated her.

    I have seen these “new job” alerts for positions people have held for years and years.

    One contact the other day was bemused at an outbreak of such congratulations for him. He could not figure out what it was all about until I explained the “system”.

    I always check the profile first. In my experience, the real new jobs or new positions are decidedly in the minority.

  • http://www.sociallysorted.com.au/ Donna Moritz

    You nailed it @meloniedodaro:disqus – what a great post – some well-timed reminders and some great new ideas. Sharing!

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Thank you my dear Donna!

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Very good point Des, it’s always worth doing a double check.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Advertising on LinkedIn can be a little tricky. Many are having success with the new LinkedIn sponsored posts.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Files? Not clear on what you are referring to Antonio. Let me know and I’ll respond or feel free to message me on Facebook ;)

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Sponsored posts are proving effective for many people. It’s about having the right mix of content, messaging and graphics as well as targeting them well.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Coleen, I recommended larger groups usually but sometimes some of the smaller really targeted groups can be amazing. Antonio is right in his comment below.

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    You’re right: I didn’t explain myself correctly (sorry) I was actually referring to the media content (pdfs, images, etc…) that you can feature on your profile.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Antonio I recommend a maximum of 2 below each position, and the summary.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Thanks for a very informative and useful post about LinkedIn Melonie! Your #1 tip is SUPER – great way to establish relationships with your network!

  • http://navneetsau.com/ NavNeet Sau

    Awesome article Melonie. As like Mari Smith (Facebook marketing queen), you are LinkedIn marketing queen. Thank you for sharing your valuable thoughts.

  • LucidGal

    My favorite is the Groups function; I belong to several and also run one. Much easier to engage with people there…

  • Nate Woodbury

    The training on this page was extremely helpful. My attraction to LinkedIn has grown a lot in the past 2 weeks, and it just doubled by reading this page. Thanks a lot! Very Helpful!

  • http://tarletonecampus.blogspot.com Dr. Anthony C. Edwards

    This is great, @meloniedodaro:disqus! I will definitely have to take advantage of tags and the Relationship tab. I also need to start uploading rich media to my profile. Do you know if these features are accessible on mobile apps or only through the website on a desktop computer?

  • Melonie Dodaro

    You should always use your desktop when making changes to your LinkedIn profile. You want to have a larger screen to double check everything. Glad you enjoyed the article.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Wow! Glad I could help increase your level of attraction to LinkedIn Nate. If you are looking for just one more reason, LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. ;)

  • Melonie Dodaro

    LinkedIn Groups are a gem!

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Thank you so much NavNeet!

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Thanks John, that means a lot coming from you ;)

  • Nate Woodbury

    I’m starting to see it. I’ve been actively marketing on Facebook for 18 months… and it only been recently that I’ve started getting actual business from it. After just two weeks of tinkering on LinkedIn, I’m already seeing fruit.

  • Melonie Dodaro

    That’s fantastic Nate!

  • http://tarletonecampus.blogspot.com Dr. Anthony C. Edwards

    Thanks!

  • http://www.twitter.com/MuchaMurapa Mucha Murapa

    Great stuff as always Melonie – your LinkedIn savvy and best practice are always very welcome :) Keep up the great work!

  • http://linkedinformed.com/ Mark Williams

    This is a great piece Melonie and I’m so pleased someone else is spreading the word about LinkedIn Contacts, its an amazing feature that is hugely under-utilized.

    One point I did want to mention is regarding your statement “save members—whether you’re connected to them or not—into useful lists”. LinkedIn have recently changed this feature preventing you from saving anyone beyond 2nd tier (unfortunately). Its still a great feature but more limited now it is restricted to saving 2nd tier only (1st tier are automatically saved).

    Also just to clarify on #3 you state “You can send a message to up to 50 people” which can be very useful, especially when combining this with tags to make sure your message is relevant and targeted but to be clear – this message can only be sent to connections (1st tier) as opposed to saved contacts.

  • Madhava Verma Dantuluri

    Excellent share.

  • pgillin

    Thanks for the tip about the note-taking feature. I thought I knew LinkedIn pretty well, but that little gem had eluded me.

  • http://www.ConvertYourIdea.com/ Steve Atwal

    Melonie, great tips and advice! There should be an article also on how to weed down your connections (I have too many) :-) Thanks!







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