How SMEs can generate leads on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is widely considered the most effective social media channel for B2B lead generation, reportedly driving 80% of B2B social media leads.  In 2013, 65% of companies on LinkedIn acquired a B2B customer through the network, whilst 51% acquired a B2C customer, so it can also be useful for B2C businesses.

LinkedIn lead generation statistics

But what if you’re not a large company with budgets for paid LinkedIn services and entire marketing teams to manage them?  Is it still possible to win new customers on the social network?  The answer is yes.  We’ve been helping our clients reach out to potential customers with positive results (and the good news is that our services don’t cost the earth).  This post summarises some of the things SMEs should be doing if lead generation is their aim.


Maximise your personal profile

linkedin examples bad profile photos


This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of incomplete profiles we come across, and ones with inappropriate photos.  Think of the LinkedIn profile as your online CV, so keep your photos professional.  Would you use a party selfie in a job application?

Your profile is also an opportunity to highlight your company and professional experience, such as through the visual portfolio feature.  Make sure to use relevant keywords that will help other users find you should they search for those terms.


Optimise your Company Page

LinkedIn real world equivalentIf LinkedIn were a trade show, the Company Page would be your exhibition booth where you promote your business to stand out from the competition.  Here’s where you share the latest company updates, business insights and other relevant stories to remind visitors of what makes you unique.

As the name suggests, the Company Page is different from a personal profile; it serves to highlight the company instead of one individual employee.  Just as you would fill out your personal profile with relevant keywords, do the same for your Company Page.


Connect with target customers

Apart from keywords, LinkedIn allows you to reach specific audiences by location, industry, job title and more.  Take advantage of this feature to find and connect with potential customers who could be interested in your products or services.

Try connecting with 2nd degree connections rather than complete strangers, as contacts within your extended network tend to be more receptive toward invitations from people with whom they share a mutual contact.  Or politely ask the mutual contact if they could introduce you to your target connection.  Once connected, don’t bombard them with sales messages; that’s a surefire way to lose contacts and gain a reputation for being an obnoxious spammer.  LinkedIn is all about nurturing relationships and building trust.


Share useful, relevant information

Using the trade show analogy, think about why someone should choose your business.  You’ve got your booth nicely set up (Company Page) and your best face forward (personal profile).  Now you need the marketing materials to show off the USPs of your business.

You can do this through updates aimed at Company Page followers and profile updates shared with your connections.  LinkedIn’s publishing platform, Pulse, allows you to self-publish long-form content.

Netinspire LinkedIn Pulse Chris Peers

Managing Director Chris Peers’ posts on LinkedIn Pulse, on behalf of Netinspire

The current trend of self publishing has led to an oversaturation of content, which means you need to show real value to compete.  If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is because you’re effectively trying to capture, nurture and convert audiences into leads.  It requires time, effort and the expertise of several job functions e.g. marketing, sales, new business, product, customer service.  On the other hand, you could outsource all this to an agency that specialises in social media for B2B.  Netinspire offers these services for a reasonable fee.  Just a thought.

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