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Bill Banham (host): LinkedIn according to many sales leaders is the number one social selling tool. What can a sales person really do with it? One of the best free and paid features? How important is it to pay for LinkedIn? What are the options? In this episode of the Social Media and Tech Podcast podcast brought to you by the CPSA, Shanna Landolt, will help us discover if paying for LinkedIn is really worth it.
Shanna Landolt is president of the Landolt Group and Secrets of a Headhunter. Shanna has been in executive search for over 17 years. She has been featured on NBC, FOX, and CitiTV. And she has been cited by CBS and ABC as a LinkedIn expert and job search expert. Shanna is also the number one international best-selling author of the book, LinkedIn, Secrets from a Top Executive Recruiter. Welcome, Shanna. Thanks for joining us today on our Social Media and Tech Podcast.
Shanna: Thank you. It's really great to be here, Bill.
Bill: Shanna, let's jump straight into our questions. The first thing I would love to ask you is within the social selling ecosystem, how important is LinkedIn for professionals in a sales-focused role?
Shanna: Well, I'm gonna say in a business to business sales focused role, so specifically business to business, it's critical. And the reason it's critical is never before have you had access to so much information about the person that you're selling to. In the past you could Google. Before that it was relationships and trade periodicals, but now you can literally see a person's history and if they've expanded their profile and created a great profile, you can know what's important to them and what they stand for. There are ways that you can go about creating a relationship with someone through social selling that wasn't possible ten years ago. It's absolutely critical.
Bill: What does a sales person get for free? Tell our listeners about some of the top features and benefits of using the free version of LinkedIn. Connection requests, group InMail, basic analytics. What do you get without paying any money, Shanna?
Shanna: Essentially for the free account, you get to create a profile where people can see you. You can do minimal searches for other people. When I say minimal, with other versions of LinkedIn, you can see connections beyond your immediate network. And you have a limited number of InMails that you can send. If you were not in sales, I would say that the free version would be fine. Let's say that you worked in marketing or in accounting but you weren't doing direct prospecting in a business to business setting.
For most job seekers, for example, the free version is fine. But if you are prospecting and reaching out to people and building relationships, essentially LinkedIn can become in many ways your CRM or, depending on the CRM that you use, will link to your CRM so that you have just a plethora of information.
Bill: How does one know that they are optimizing ones free LinkedIn account or are there ways to optimize my profile so that it's appealing and can be found really easily?
Shanna: Absolutely, Bill, and the way that you would optimize your free LinkedIn account is exactly the same way that you would optimize a paid LinkedIn account. First of all you want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is a profile. It is not your online resume. Those two things are very distinct. One of the things I do is I work with people to create compelling LinkedIn profiles that get them found for their expertise. You want to make sure that your profile represents your personal brand.
There's some very specific things that you need to make sure that you have a complete profile. First of all, you need to have your industry and location. You must have an up to date position with details. And this is actually where job seekers often run into problems because if their position has ended, they don't have an up to date position, in which case I would suggest that you create a role called "seeking new opportunities" and put that as an actual role.
You need a minimum of two past positions with details. So you can't just list where you've worked. You actually have to write some comments in the details about that. A profile photo and if you're in sales, that profile photo must show you as the business professional that you are. It can't be just a social picture. You need a minimum of 50 connections, but if you're in sales, I'm gonna tell you, a world opens up with LinkedIn when you get to 500 connections plus. In addition to that, you have to update your profile from time to time. Somewhat regularly post status updates. That's the answer of what is a complete profile.
And then once you have that complete profile, LinkedIn actually has an algorithm that they use to determine where do you show up in somebody else's search. So knowing what constitutes a complete profile first makes a really big difference.
Bill: I believe the term is all-star. Is that right? That's the top level in terms of ways to optimize your own profile by adding the right picture and the right information. Is that correct?
Shanna: Yeah, an all-star profile rating just means that you meet their basic requirements for a complete profile. My version of an all-star is very different than what the minimum is. For example, you want to create, you want to use all 2000 characters to create a summary about yourself that's loaded with the proper keywords while expressing your personal values and the value of the company that you're selling for, the products that you're representing.
Bill: Okay, so there might be lots of people out there like myself who think in terms of LinkedIn's eyes any way, that I'm an all-star profile, but maybe I'm not. So are there services out there that can help people like me with optimizing and managing my personal brand on LinkedIn?
Shanna: Absolutely. There's certainly a number of people who specialize in creating LinkedIn profiles. You can also go onto sites like Upwork and find people who will optimize your profile, but you want to make sure that whoever you use understands personal branding. And if they don't understand personal branding and how to reflect that in your LinkedIn profile, you might just end up with the online version of your resume, which, quite frankly as a sales person, is not what you want.
Bill: There are several paid versions of LinkedIn including career, business plus, sales navigator, and the recruiter. As an executive search professional, your experience of course is with the recruiter version. Please can you talk in general terms however about some of the features, such as the InMail credits and the enhanced reporting, which is available to paid subscribers of LinkedIn.
Shanna: Sure. It's interesting though because it's only recently that I've switched over to the recruiter version. Up until then I used the LinkedIn Business Professional version. Some of the reasons they had me switch over was I could send an InMail to a number of people at the same time inside of a project and that InMail would be personalized to them. Rather than sending 50 separate messages that were essentially the same but personalizing them, I can now do that automatically. There are features inside of the paid versions that essentially allow for automation, for you to group message people and to see more profiles and get analytics about who's reaching out to you that just simply aren't available in the free versions.
Bill: You get what you pay for, Shanna.
Shanna: But it also is a matter of understanding do you need, are you at that level where you need to pay for it. Again if you're doing business to business sales then I would say yes, you want to use that. Particularly if using LinkedIn is one of your strategies for connecting with people.
Bill: So in the context of using InMails to engage with prospects, what things should sales people avoid doing and what makes for a compelling InMail message?
Shanna: Well first of all, you don't want the message to be too long. People's attention spans are very short these days. You want to have enough white space in the InMail that somebody can scan it and still understand essentially what you're looking for.
If you can find a way to weave in a personal connection, like you and I are both connected to John Smith, then you want to do that because it will have the person be more comfortable in responding to that InMail. Make sure that the message is a combination of business speak as well as making that personal connection. If what you're sending is essentially marketing materials, it will get deleted right away.
On social media, one of the reasons it's so popular with people is social media has a personal connection and not just a, being marketed to or marketing at connection. You want to make sure that the person doesn't feel like they're receiving a form letter. Like you've actually taken the time to think about them and address them personally, and here's why based on your research you believe this is a worthy conversation to pursue.
Bill: In my personal experience, there's nothing worse than getting a message through LinkedIn which is completely not related to me. Assuming I'm in a different job. Not spending any time understanding what I do, who I am.
Shanna: Or misspelling your name. (laughs)
Bill: Exactly. And unfortunately you see these things too often with [inaudible 00:10:31]. In addition to the enhanced accounts that sales people, recruiters, leaders, and job seekers can pay for, what other paid services does LinkedIn offer? For example, can one advertise through LinkedIn? If so, how targeted, how segmented can you get? And does it have a good return on investment?
Shanna: There's a couple of different ways that you can leverage LinkedIn through advertising. So first, obviously is to put a job ad. Recruiters will do that. [inaudible 00:10:58] a spot that I can use as well. Companies will use that when they're hiring people. But we're seeing on LinkedIn an increase in companies advertising directly to business people. And that's even shifting, Bill, to consumer packaged good companies.
For a while, it was things like, I would see in my targeted feed advertisements for speakers to go to their event. Or universities to do their MBA program. But now I'm seeing everyday consumer packaged goods being advertised on LinkedIn. So I think that companies are getting smart to the fact that there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. And you can get very targeted in terms of geographical region, the industry that the person works in, the kind of degree that they have. So similar to placing a Facebook ad, it's very segmented.
The benefit of advertising on LinkedIn really is that the average person on LinkedIn earns in excess of $100,000. You're advertising to an audience that's well compensated and has money to spend.
Bill: Okay, so here's the big question, Shanna. In your opinion is it worth paying for LinkedIn, and if so, when? What are the scenarios when it's absolutely worthwhile?
Shanna: So my opinion is that it depends. If you are in sales but your sales role is not a business to business sale or it's not the kind of sale where you're specifically trying to find people in specific roles in companies, then you don't need to pay. You can just use LinkedIn to research somebody before you meet them.
However, if you want a targeted, automated approach that you can combine with your CRM, where you are writing a number of InMails every month, then it's absolutely worth paying for LinkedIn. I think a lot of sales people, it's their secret weapon.
Bill: Wonderful. Thank you very much. We're coming to the end of this particular podcast. Before we wrap things up, I'd love for you to tell our listeners how they can learn more about you.
Shanna: Terrific. They can find me at Secrets From A Headhunter, Landolt Group or you can look me up on LinkedIn. Shanna Landolt.
Bill: Awesome. Shanna, it's always a pleasure getting a chance to chat with you. Until next time, this has been the Social Media and Tech podcast brought to you by the CPSA.
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