1 – Set up Marketing goals for LinkedIn

People come to LinkedIn to learn, debate, connect, read the news, or relax. It’s a great place for B2B Marketing, but if you want to grow your network and use LinkedIn as an efficient marketing platform, it is a good idea to come up with defined objectives. For example, my goal is to extend my network in the marketing and entrepreneurship fields in the San Francisco Bay Area, and generate qualified leads for my training business. This objective automatically narrows down the LinkedIn groups, target profiles, posts, blogs, or types of conversations I am getting into. Target a specific population with your goal in mind and you will achieve greater results. I like how Jessica Northey, named Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer by Forbes, puts it.

In Social Media the “squeaky wheel” gets the oil. You have to put yourself out there, to find people who will relate or even debate with you, depending on what you are looking for. – Jessica Northey (@jessicanorthey)

2 – Be Personal

If you’re marketing a service or a product on LinkedIn, you will want to message new contacts to introduce yourself and tell them about yourself and what you offer, but remember that the first impression matters the most, especially on social media. When you reach out to a new contact on LinkedIn for marketing purposes, it’s necessary to take the time to be personal. Not only it will hurt your reputation or your brand if you sound impersonal, it will also considerably lower your chances to receive an answer or engage in a conversation with your new connection. You can use a template to save time, but spend at least 2 to 3 minutes personalizing your message per contact. If you’re not interested in the person you’re reaching out to, you can’t expect them to be interested in you in return. A good way to do so is to give context to you message: If content is king, context is queen. Do you have a connection in common? Are you going to the same conference? Are you in the same group or conversation? Are you in the same geographic area? Make it personal, and be interested before being interesting!

Engage, Enlighten, Encourage and especially…just be yourself! Social media is a community effort, everyone is an asset. – Susan Cooper (@buzzedition)

3 – Foster Engagement from LinkedIn users

To be noticed on LinkedIn, stay active and engaged. A good way is to write long-form content, like this post. The post will be featured on your profile. I also have found some efficient ways to increase your engagement without spending too much time. Make sure to join all the groups that are relevant to you and your business. The number of groups you can join on LinkedIn is limited, so make sure to leave the groups that don’t match your target profiles and join new groups that do. Pay attention to the number of members in the group to keep your potential of reach high. Be active and participate in conversations on a weekly basis. A great way to engage a group and be noticed is to ask questions. This applies well to LinkedIn groups, but also to Facebook, Twitter, or Quora. Asking a relevant question is simple, and usually triggers a conversation from the most engaged users. Don’t forget to answer and follow up to contribute to the discussion. Again, be interested in what’s going on in the group.

Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you. – Bonnie Sainsbury (@bsainsbury)

4 – Deliver Useful Content on LinkedIn

If you really want to stand out, you have to find or produce useful content in the form of blogs, papers, articles, and if possible multimedia. The Twitter 4-1-1 rule should also be applied to LinkedIn: The rule states that for every one self-serving tweet, post, or update, a brand should share four new pieces of content and one re-share. It means that you don’t want to focus on selling, but you want to deliver useful content in order to stay top of mind. I consider a best practice to send a first message to new connections for brand awareness and engagement, then to work the groups and news feeds to stay top of mind. I think it’s a good mix of push and pull strategy. You “push” once for brand awareness and then “pull“ by being visible on your connections’ feed. If you’ve done your targeting well (see above) then you’re basically marketing to the right audience and stay in front of qualified potential prospects.

Successful companies in social media function more like entertainment companies, publishers, or party planners than as traditional advertisers. – Erik Qualman (@equalman)