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Posted by Todd Hockenberry ● Jan 08, 2019

Why Execs Should Steer Away from Thinking of LinkedIn as Social Media

“I was 50 years old when I started using LinkedIn;

I thought there were a million reasons it wasn’t going to work for me.”

That was Wayne Breitbarth

He went on to write The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success, selling over 100,000 copies. I asked Wayne to unpack why LinkedIn is the most strategic platform for industrial, B2B, and Manufacturing companies.

The short answer: it’s is not just another social media platform, it’s the database we never had.

A Strategic Platform for Industrial, B2B, and Manufacturing Companies

In the old days to get a database to search for prospects, you had to buy a massive binder or floppy disks.

LinkedIn comes in and becomes the most up to date, most comprehensive database because it's kept up by the users.

It’s better than a resume; it’s a search tool with more professional information on people than any other search tool:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Skills
  • Connections

Wayne’s reason is simple but missed by a lot of executives, especially of the older generation.

Why Do Seniors Have the Perception It’s Not Necessary?

“I thought I had a million reasons that LinkedIn wasn’t going to work, but the overriding reason was I just didn’t want to try anything new or different.”

Wayne shared with me what he does to turn their minds around very quickly:

  1. He opens LinkedIn and tells them to put their cursor on the search box
  2. They click “all filters”
  3. He asks what they’re looking for and they might say: “project engineers at X company
  4. They put “project engineers” in the title box
  5. They put in the company and location
  6. BOOM. 13 project engineers.

It’s as if they waltzed into the company’s front door, walked right over the the department and pulled up the list from the company’s files.

Now the exec is not thinking of it as a mere social media platform, but a rich database of their ideal prospects.

However, the next thing that happens is often where many get hung up.

Like a Real World Networking Event

With eyes wide open to the possibility of what the tool can do for their company, this is where a lot of execs get too excited.

They see that “Oh look it says ‘message’ right next to ‘connect.’”

That might be the best next move, but you need to spend some time on their profile. They might not be a very active user; maybe LinkedIn isn’t the best place for that initial communication.

“When I can show them to use the data I say ‘from this point forward you need to be smart about the next communication step’.”

The next best step might be a phone call, email, or even a knock on the door.

It’s too common a problem to get excited and think all you have to do is push certain buttons.

We know that just like in the real world It’s not about buttons, it’s about data, being respectful, moving to the relationship, and taking your time.

Why Exec Peer Connecting Can Lead to More Sales

So far the discussion has been mainly focused on prospecting, but Wayne brought up another very important way execs should use LinkedIn.

Wayne shared an experience he had with a VP who said “my sales team is using LinkedIn just great.”

He asked when that VP was last very active on LinkedIn. It was when the VP was getting the job.

He said, “you know the company of which your sales team is calling the purchasing department. At some point they’re going to likely need to go through a VP, CFO, or Owner (depending on the size of the company).

“Why don’t you reach out to those people and introduce yourself through LinkedIn, say ‘hi so-and-so, I see you're on LinkedIn and our sales guy James has been calling on your guy Paul, and I just wanted to introduce myself.

“‘In case you needed another contact we’re super excited about this potential opportunity with your company and I wanted you to know that I’m involved at my space too.’”

Every CEO or President he’s shared that with has gone “that’s brilliant.”

The 3 Most Important Things When Making Content

Wayne's first bit of caution is that they’re still working out the algorithm. It’s a bit of a mess and you can’t trust things to show up on people’s feeds by algorithm along.

There are 3 very important things to leverage to increase the reach of any content you post:

  1. Have your company’s already built network of employees and partners agree to an engagement strategy where they engage with each other’s posts.
  2. Use @mentions in all your comments. When you mention the author of a piece of content in your post on that content, the author it increases engagement and the likelihood the author will comment back.
  3. Use hashtags.
Tagging and hashtagging along with raw engagement will move stuff along in people’s feeds for sure.”

3 To-Do’s to Make Linkedin a Company Asset

I asked Wayne to close the episode out with three super practical steps and exec should take right now. His advice was perfect:

  1. Recraft your profile for the target audience. This is so important compared to the profile just looking like that of a guy who swaps out jobs. Or worse: nothing at all.
  2. Make sure you're connected with everyone who loves your product or service. Be very strategic about doing that.
  3. Use the feature called “connections of.” He actually goes into a very detailed explanation of this in this worksheet. I highly recommend reading it because Wayne calls this “the essence of LinkedIn” and particularly that feature “the referral filter.” It’s the best way to systematically generate referrals.

This post is based on a podcast with Wayne Breitbarth. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Industrial Executive.


Topics: Industrial Executive