Let's start at the beginning - Why Linkedin?
I spent 18 months testing all of the main social media platforms suited to generating business in a B2B environment. From Linkedin, to Twitter, to Facebook, and finally Medium.
I spent tens of thousands on ads, and even more in time. I ran groups on both Linkedin and Facebook, and contributed to them daily for over a year.
If there's a strategy for engagement on these platforms, I've tried it!
From native posts, to live videos, pre-recorded videos, infographics, lead magnets, and advertising. This was no overnight fleeting experiment!
Through it all I set out to answer the question:
Which social media platform is best for generating leads for a B2B consulting business?
The clear winner was Linked in by some way. No real surprise there. But what I set about doing next was to learn everything I could about how to use Linkedin effectively. The primary aim was to be able to use Linkedin natively, without needing to spend money on ads.
That requires me to leverage the platform to grow my brand and authority as an expert in my niche, to build an audience, and to get appointments with my ideal prospects.
I say appointments because we need to be realistic here. If there is such as a thing as 'social selling', then the only thing the B2B consultant is selling on Linkedin is the appointment. You don't close a sale on Linkedin. Your ultimate aim, ironically, is to get the prospect off of Linkedin and onto a call or to an in-person meeting.
Now before we get to what you should be doing on Linkedin, let us first explore...
The 10 big mistakes you're probably making with Linkedin
As you can imagine, spending so much time working avidly on Linkedin has meant that I've seen a lot of profiles!
I've also helped a number of consulting business owners to optimise both their profiles and how they use Linkedin.
Through that process I've observed 10 mistakes that I see the vast majority of Linkedin users make.
The vast majority of business owners are still approaching Linkedin like it’s their online CV.
If you’re looking for a job, and you want to attract the attention of recruiters, then that’s great.
But if you’re looking to attract the attention of ideal prospects, or people that might refer you to your ideal prospects, then you’re making a big mistake.
Your ideal prospects aren’t interested in you. They don’t care what your job title is or what your responsibilities are.
You need to resonate with them by talking about them and their problems and challenges.
Let's be honest, your ideal prospects are not going to find you simply because you’ve called yourself a 'Consultant'.
Sure, Linkedin says that you must know the people that you connect to, but is that really what they think?
I mean, with a limit of 30,000 connections, can you really know that many people!
In fact, I listened to a podcast recently about someone who built up 30,000 Linkedin connections in only 30 weeks!
Of course, once you hit the connection limit, you can still attract followers.
And having that many connections is not as rare as you'd think. Quality is way more important than quantity, although there is an initial balance to be struck where you need a certain number of followers to start getting traction on the platform.
And that's what you have to understand. Linkedin is a broadcast platform. Whilst it may have more of a business focus, it’s a social media platform just like any other.
It enables you to get your message out there, and to get noticed by many people. To build your audience using the concept of 6 degrees of separation.
More importantly, for you and your business - your personal brand - it’s about becoming known, respected and trusted.
And from there it's about securing a call or meeting with your ideal prospects. One of the most challenging things to do in business.
If you’re still restricting your connections just to those people you already know, then what’s the point of being on the platform?
You already know those people so at any time you can email them, phone them, text them, meet them for a coffee. You’re already connected!
Ok, I get that Linkedin is useful to keep in touch with people as they move jobs, and to reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with, but to restrict it to just the people you know is leaving a lot of food on the table.
Just imagine that you and I met at an in-person event. I walked up to you and said,
“Hi, I’m Martin, what’s your name?”
And you reply,
“Hi Martin, I’m Joanne.”
I follow up with the cliched and slightly awkward question,
“So what do you do?”
And in response, you say nothing. Nothing at all. (To quote Ronan Keating!)
Then you just walk off and talk to someone else.
Alright, it wasn’t the most original question to have asked, but the response seems a bit harsh.
Yet that’s exactly what 99.999% of people do on Linkedin. They connect with someone, and then follow it up with absolute silence.
It’s weird. Don’t do that.
When you connect with someone - whether you initiated it or they did - follow it up.
Start a conversation in Linkedin messenger with the ultimate aim of being to build a relationship. Then you can qualify if there’s any value in having a real-world conversation together.
Remember too that even if they’re not your ideal client, they might be able to refer to someone who is.
Now let’s go back to our in-person networking scenario. Imagine this - I meet someone at an in-person networking event and the conversation goes like this:
“Hi, I’m Martin, what’s your name?”
And they say:
“Hi, I’m Steve.”
And I say:
“Hi Steve, I help consultants to grow their business. Would you like to buy some coaching and training from me?”
And Steve....well he politely declines then makes his exit.
My approach was inappropriate. It was too soon. I hadn’t even qualified if Steve was the right person to pitch to. In fact, I hadn’t earned the right to pitch. Yet I see this approach used on Linkedin time and time again.
You accept a connection request, and then immediately the other person tries to sell to you. There’s nothing that’s more of a turn-off.
For me, my immediate response is to disconnect from that individual.
When you first start posting on Linkedin it takes courage.
I don’t think twice when I post now, but in the beginning it did take some effort. Similar to doing a Facebook Live - I remember the first time I did that just how much my heart was pounding and I hadn’t even started recording!
You’re putting yourself out there, and that takes bravery. But once you get over the hurdle, it becomes easier and easier, and you get much better at it.
The easiest thing to do is to expect that your posts will be a bit rubbish. And that you’ll get zero engagement.
I can tell you for a fact that most of my clients who’ve come through social media channels didn’t comment on, or like, a single post. But it still drove them to reach out.
Too many people don’t allow themselves to conquer their fear. They’re just too shy.
They don’t comment on other people’s posts. Instead, they hide behind a 'Like' at best, but mostly they’re too worried what other people will think of them if they comment on, or like, a post.
The reality is, no-one’s really thinking about you at all. And unless you start posting and commenting regularly, that’s never going to change!
The other symptom of being shy that I see a lot, is to look at Who’s Viewed Your Profile, and then do nothing with that knowledge.
If someone viewed your profile, they may have seen something they liked, but they themselves were too shy to request a connection. Perhaps they were viewing the world through their lens and assuming everyone else thinks the same - that it’s a bit creepy to request to connect with someone who only looked at your profile.
Yet think about it - someone looks at your profile and doesn’t connect. Your assumption is that they didn’t find what they were looking for, and so moved on.
But what if that person is still reserving their connections only for people that they know?
What if they’re an incredibly shy individual. Maybe they’re even intimidated by you a little. Maybe you have exactly what they need, but they didn't recognise that from their initial viewing of your profile.
What you should do is send them a connection request (if they’re your ideal customer or might know your ideal customer or might one day become your ideal customer).
However, the chances are you won’t, because whereas getting Likes on your posts gives you that endorphin rush, having someone ignore your connection request gives you that horrible feeling of rejection!
Don’t fear rejection, and don’t fear being creepy. Linkedin is all about making connections to other people in business, so…. go make connections!
Not so long ago company branding was all the rage on social media. More recently it’s become about personal branding.
The word authentic is used everywhere. But what I see more recently - and that I disagree with - is that to be authentic you just need to be the same person no matter where you are. At work, with clients, on social media, at home with family, in the pub.
You’re just one big authentic person.
Now I have a problem with this. When I’m in the pub with my mates I can talk all sorts of nonsense - especially after drinking a few beers. And I can definitely use more colourful language (don't tell my wife!).
In front of clients, I very seldom swear.
Am I being inauthentic because I’m behaving differently in different environments?
I don’t think so at all. I have slightly different personas to suit different scenarios. In my world, that’s called being professional.
It’s no different to if you were in a court of law and standing in front of a judge. You’d give them the respect that the situation deserves.
That’s not being inauthentic, it’s being appropriate.
Being authentic on Linkedin is much more about having opinions and being consistent with them.
For example, if I express a view when talking to friends that you should post whatever you want on Linkedin, then when I meet a client in a business context and I have a view to the contrary, that’s not being authentic.
You can still be authentic and professional. You don’t need to do things to stand out just for the sake of standing out. Instead, what you need to do is to take a stand, and that leads me on to number 7…
There’s a big difference between taking a stand and standing out.
It’s imperative that you find your voice and get noticed on Linkedin.
You could try doing that by behaving contrary to the platform’s norms - like using profanity, or wearing clothes not normally seen in a business scenario. Or you could take a stand by having a firm opinion on something.
The former is a novelty that will wear off over time, whereas the latter will attract your audience to you, and potentially repel the wrong audience.
For example, I take a stand on a number of things, including:
Are these things true for every consultant that runs a business? Nope.
Should I therefore say ‘most consultants’ rather than ‘all consultants’? Nope.
If I do, my opinion becomes significantly watered down.
I’m no longer taking a stand.
It’s a subtle difference, but you need to polarise your audience through your opinions. That’s how you positively stand out, and those people that resonate with your message will reach out.
Not everyone will like what you say, but that’s absolutely fine. Why would you want to work with people who don’t agree with you in the first place?
To build a brand on social media - or anywhere to that matter - you have to take a stand and become comfortable with polarising.
This can, however, be difficult for consultants as they’re more used to gaining consensus across large groups. For example, when delivering a report that will be viewed by a dozen different people, all of whom you have to please in some way. At least to the point that the report gets accepted.
Yet the best consultants know that they’re not there to be liked. They’re there to respectfully advise and guide their clients, even if they know the client won’t like what they're being told.
You have to take the same approach on Linkedin. Your job is to take a stand. It’s not to pacify everyone as that simply won’t get you noticed nor will it make you memorable.
There are millions of conversations taking place on Linkedin every day.
And, there are many ways that Linkedin helps by telling you about them. In your feed. In your groups. In the ’Today’s news and views’. Via email updates, etc.
So how many of those conversations do you join each day?
What about each week?
Look, if you don’t actively engage in the conversation of others then you’re relying on your posts to be so fantastically engaging that you don’t need to rely on the networks of others.
That’s fine if you’ve amassed a huge following like, say, Gary Vaynerchuk (>3 million followers), Jack Welch (>7 million followers), or Richard Branson (16 millions followers).
But for most mere mortals, they have a network of less than a thousand.
You’ve heard the expression:
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity!
It’s even worse if you’re paying to do things differently but then don’t. That really is insanity!
Yet that’s what people do when they subscribe to Linkedin Premium!
Let’s look at this situation through an analogy.
Just imagine you were given a brand new Porsche for the princely sum of £60/mth.
You can do whatever you want with it. Drive it like you stole it. Go furniture shopping in Ikea. Drive it all day, every day.
No additional cost for all the extra enjoyment or utility that you might get from it.
Only problem is, you don’t do any of these things because you don't know how to drive!
So, even though you’ve been given this powerful machine, and for just £60/mth, it’s useless to you.
It's just sat on the driveway costing you £60/mth.
Chances are, after a while, you’d start to object to paying that £60/mth.
Sure, you might have a Porsche on the driveway, but it’s not doing anything for you. It's useless.
This is exactly what the majority of people do when they subscribe to Linkedin Premium - they do nothing with it.
They subscribe, pay £60/mth and the hope that the act of paying alone will magically do something different for them.
They don’t take the time to learn. To get in it and drive the damn thing!
Just think how many people you’ve heard say,
“Oh, there’s no point in subscribing to Linkedin Premium”.
And they’re right… if you don’t intend to do anything different with it!
It’s exactly what I did the first two times I subscribed to Linkedin Premium.
I think the first time was for about a year! That's over £700 I just threw down the drain!
If you’re going to subscribe to Linkedin Premium - and I highly recommend you do - then you must learn how to use it for your advantage. Especially as barely anyone else does!
Being on Linkedin is ultimately about making money for your business!
It’s about getting noticed and generating leads. That’s what every form of marketing is in one way or another.
On Linkedin you do it by posting highly valuable content, sharing opinion, and joining in the conversation of others.
The problem is, a lot of people forget why they’re on Linkedin.
They make the mistakes outlined above, or they do absolutely nothing at all. They have a profile simply because they feel they should have, but that’s it.
They don’t write, they don’t call…
Look, if you’re on Linkedin - and as a leader in a professional services business (which is all about the provision of advice and guidance) then you should be - you have to work it. And work it hard.
It’s probably one of the most cost effective ways that you can market your business right now.
In following the system that I developed, here's some screenshots of the outcomes I've been able to achieve...
The Linkedin Mastery programme provides the A-E for effective implementation and use of Linkedin to build your authority as a trusted advisor, and to generate B2B leads.
If you are an owner or leader in a B2B consulting business and you want to attract clients through Linkedin...
If you have been using Linkedin for some time, but have yet to get any return on your efforts...
If you're a B2B consultant and you've given up on Linkedin and been tempted to try other social media platforms...
If you're making any of the 10 mistakes detailed above...
...then this programme is for you!
An online version of the course to work through at your own pace.
However, to prevent you getting stuck, there is also a weekly group coaching call you can join.
An on-site version of the course delivered to you and your team.
Working through profile changes in real-time, and critiquing along the way.
Don't have the time to do all this yourself?
Then our Done-With-You offering may be suitable.
(We only take on those businesses that we know we can help).
(Total cost is £2,982)
If you're committed to using Linkedin as a core marketing and lead generation channel for your business, then simply choose the option that best suits you.
If you believe that all you need to do is to update your profile, then sit back and wait for the leads to roll in, you're probably going to be disappointed!
Every single marketing channel takes commitment, and social media is one of the most demanding in terms of regular engagement.
If you suspect that you won't be able to commit at least an average of 30 minutes a day to Linkedin, then none of the course will be appropriate for you.
The online course is made up of a series of training videos. You get lifetime access, so for as long as the course is available, you will also receive any updated training.
The course is designed to provide you with immediately actionable content. It is also structured so that you can easily return and dive into specific topics, whether it be audience building, content creation, or driving engagement, etc.
You should be able to walk through the entire course in a week, but I would expect you to both need and want to go through it multiple times for the information to sink in and become second nature!
This course does not cover how to advertise on Linkedin.
The main reason being that the course focuses on organic activities that means your investment in Linkedin is limited to time spent each day, and ideally (though not essential) a Linkedin Sales Navigator subscription. (If you've subscribed to Linkedin Sales Navigator before, but cancelled because you didn't get any value from it, this course will show you where you went wrong!)
This is 2019 people! The planet doesn't need more trees chopped down, or fossil fuels burned to deliver you a folder that will end up being nothing more than a shelf ornament!
Anyhow, what a pain it would be if, every time there was an update, we'd have to ship it to you and you'd have to manually update your file! That's crazy thinking, so no, nothing physical will be shipped to you.
Creator of Consulting Compass
Hi, I'm Martin. I always knew I'd run my own consulting business one day.
And after nearly 20 years of being an employed consultant, I went out on my own.
If only I'd have known how hard it really would be!
Anyway, 5 years on and I was still in business, despite there being so much conflicting information out there about how to run a successful consulting business.
That's why I created the Consulting Compass framework. To teach people what I believe and know is the best way to start, run and grow a successful consulting business.
Linkedin is by far the best B2B platform to position yourself as an authority in your niche, and to generate leads. In this course I teach you all you need to know!
Copyright - Consulting Compass