As many as 80% of B2B business use LinkedIn to get sales leads.

And yet, it can be a tricky platform to use.

We asked award winning social media strategist and consultant Lenka Koppova to answer questions on the best strategies to use LinkedIn efficiently.

This is a synopsis of a Q&A in the Drive the Network Facebook Group.

Training the algorithm

LinkedIn is very different to other social networking platforms because it shows you what you appear to like, rather than the most recent posts from people you follow.

The LinkedIn algorithm customises your experience by looking at the posts, people, hashtags and groups you’re engaging with. Over time it will start showing you more of that and similar.

This means that you should like and comment on posts that you find interesting and relevant. You can search for hashtags and people and follow them to see more from them. You don’t need to ‘Connect’ with everyone on LinkedIn straight away, you can just ‘Follow’ them to start seeing their content in your feed.

Helen Lindop What about if you follow people you want to connect with but don’t want to be flooded with the content they produce? For example, I might want to connect with coaches because I can help them with their sales and marketing tech but then my feed gets flooded with personal development posts. Some are fine, but if it’s a bit too much can I have more control over what I see?

Lenka Koppová You can follow people and yet not see their content if you don’t engage with it. It will not work in 100% cases, but you shouldn’t be flooded by their content. But obviously, not seeing their content will mean you’ll get fewer opportunities to listen to their problems, needs, wants, thoughts and fewer chances to engage with them in casual conversations.

How to Generate Leads

Helen Lindop When you say lead gen, do you mean building an email list, getting people to call you etc? And what are the steps to take to get you there? Especially considering posting links will make your reach plummet.

Lenka Koppová Lead generation means different things depending on your business goals. You can achieve all the above on LinkedIn, it really depends on your strategy and how LinkedIn fits into your overall marketing mix.

The important part to remember here is the focus on the on-platform conversations. Don’t try to move the person too fast away from LinkedIn to your website/email/call. You need to nurture the relationship on-platform to strengthen it before you can take it to the next level.

My approach to LinkedIn lead generation is:

  1. Find relevant people, look at what they’re posting about as well as what they’re commenting on and liking. This means LISTENING and learning more about them.
  2. From there I usually ‘Follow’ them to start seeing their content and I regularly comment and like their posts (or posts they’re engaging with). This is ENGAGEMENT and building brand awareness so they know you exist.
  3. Once our paths have crossed a few times and I know they’ve noticed me, I try to take the relationship to the next level. Usually following a public conversation I reach out with a Connection request. I always make sure to personalise my invite and mention one of our past conversations.
  4. From here you can take the relationship to wherever you want – DMs, meeting, call, email, newsletter etc.

These are not exclusively all the steps that I take, but should give you an idea of my process. It will differ a lot from person to person…

As every platform, LinkedIn doesn’t like links because that means people leave the platform. You’ll always get better reach and engagement if you share long form text only, or photo or video posts.

I know that if you put a lot of efforts into your blog on the website, you want to drive more traffic there, but there are ways you can repurpose the content natively on platform to get better engagement!

Best times to post

Jessica Hawkins Is there any way to find out the best times to post ?

Lenka Koppová It depends! It will differ from audience to audience – do they commute, work from home, network in the evenings/weekends? As far as I know, there isn’t a tool that would tell you the best time to post, but if you have created a Customer Persona for your ideal clients, you should be able to tell when they’ll be active.

From my experience the ‘best time to post’ doesn’t matter as much as the quality of your content and how much effort you put into nurturing engagement.

It’s a lot about testing – for some people early morning works, others are actually really active during the weekend. Obviously you’ll get to see more of what you engage with, so to broaden your network and reach new people, you need to invest some time to proactively looking to follow and engage with new people and hashtags.

Andy Boothman LinkedIn gives you how-to’s etc but these mostly to be simply funnels into their ad model, where they want you to spend considerably more than it costs elsewhere. What are your views? Do targeted update posts work? In a lot of their material they advocate posting 3-4 times daily – this feels like a lot.

Lenka Koppová  I would highly disagree with their recommendation to post 3-4 times daily. Especially for a small business/solo entrepreneur, it’s way too much. Not only tha,t you probably won’t have the resources to create that many high quality, interesting and relevant posts, but by posting this often you’ll have multiple posts ‘fighting’ for the attention and steal each others reach.

Try posting a couple of times per week – to have enough space between your posts to really get good engagement. LinkedIn posts can live for days and weeks, if there’s constant engagement in the comments. You don’t want to hurt a well performing post by sharing too much stuff.

Company v Personal

Jessica Hawkins What are your thoughts on using a company page Vs personal?

Lenka Koppová Very frequent question. Last year LinkedIn made a big change to its algorithm to show more content from people over brands (following in Facebook’s steps).

LinkedIn is positioning itself as the ‘professional networking platform’, which means they put more emphasis on posts from Personal Profiles over Business Pages.

You still should have a Business Page set up on LinkedIn and keep it up-to-date, but you’ll get much better results on your Personal Profile. On a Business Page you don’t have the same abilities to connect, follow and reach out to people and build 1-2-1 relationships like via your Personal Profile.

Building Relationships

Andrea C Joyce Linkedin is my least favourite platform but I know it’s a useful professional platform, how can I learn to love it?

Lenka Koppová What would you like to achieve on LinkedIn? What’s the reasoning behind spending more time ‘falling in love’ with the platform?

If you know the answers to these Qs and you still want to give LinkedIn a shot, I’d say start by searching for interesting conversations (it can be by following new people, companies or hashtags). Find something that you enjoy talking about and get value from (and can add value at the same time).

LinkedIn (and social media in general) is just an extension of offline networking. To get the benefits of it, you need to put some effort into showing up, being interested and joining conversations).

From my experience, it always comes back to training your algorithm. Which at the beginning often means spending more time proactively searching for interesting and relevant conversations. Sometimes you need to go out and put the work in to start seeing the good results.

It’s ok to lurk. Lurking is listening and it’s an important part of social media. You need to start somewhere and it can easily be with Drive members or other people who are already in your network to ease yourself into it.

Andrea C Joyce So is the secret of LinkedIn engaging in conversations that demonstrate your values and skills which enhances your professional profile and hopefully leads to leads?

Lenka Koppová I think that the secret is engaging in relevant conversation with your prospects and building a relationship first. It’s like dating, you don’t walk up to a stranger and ask them to go to bed with you straight away (in most cases 😂 – especially if a long-term relationship is what you’re after). You get to know them, see if they’re the right fit, if the interest is mutual etc. and then you progress to asking them out…

Andy Boothman One of my clients is a charity. They are looking to establish a forum to openly discuss the services that they provide. Facebook feels obvious, but what about the forums on LinkedIn? Given what I’ve seen it sounds like they’re nothing more than notice boards.

Lenka Koppová If you share a new forum/group and nurture the engagement and conversations there, it could work. But in general, LinkedIn groups aren’t as good as the ones on Facebook. Another option could be creating a branded hashtag and using that to help people organise and find the right content.

LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index

Alisa Barcan Do you have any comments on the social selling index? Is it worth trying to increase that or is it just a way for LinkedIn to make you buy into premium services?

Lenka Koppová I’m not particularly impressed by the Social Selling Index. A while ago I looked into it but can’t see the value of it. By genuinely using the free version of LinkedIn and putting a decent amount of work and effort into LinkedIn, my SSI is higher than of some of the top LinkedIn ‘influencers’, so I’m questioning its accuracy a lot

Alisa Barcan I am not impressed either, especially since it’s on a ‘per day’ basis so if you check it in the morning it might be different than in the afternoon. No consistency and all their tips to improve it hint into the direction of the paid version. How do you know what the SSI of influencers is?

Lenka Koppová One of them started a conversation about it a while ago and shared their SSI. Then lots of other people (influencers) joined the conversation sharing theirs. I just looked at mine and wondered where do these random numbers are coming from.

 Quality connections

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts Connecting with people…. I have over 600 connections and tbh I’d like to decrease it. So a) is there an optimal number and b) how do you manage connection requests?

Lenka Koppová That’s very interesting Charlotte, what’s the reasoning behind decreasing your connections? People are usually focusing on the opposite – growing their network.

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts I think it’s that I’m looking for more meaningful connections rather than connecting with anyone and I feel perhaps that previous connections aren’t entirely relevant.

Lenka Koppová It happens a lot that your old connections become irrelevant. As your career evolves your connection preferences will change too. I don’t think it’s 100% necessary to go through your old connections and sort through them (you can, but I can think of more productive ways to spend your time). I would focus on reaching out to new and interesting people, searching for relevant conversations and following new people, companies, topics that ARE providing the value you’re looking for.

There isn’t an optimal number, but people are usually playing the numbers game – more (relevant) connections you have, more chances to get in front of more like-minded people and potential customers.

It’s up to your personal preference how you want to proceed with connection requests. Some people accept all, some people pick and choose, others accept only people they know or people who sent a personalised message to go with it. I have a short message asking what inspired them to connect with me that I always send to people who send me a blank request. Depending on their response (or if they respond at all), I make a decision if I want to connect with them or not.

There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s completely up to you, your preference and what you want to achieve on LinkedIn.

In summary

Lenka Koppová LinkedIn Lead Generation:

– Listen and be proactive (know who your ideal customers are, where they hang out and what needs/pain you’re solving for them).

– Reach out to people, start conversations and be genuinely interested. This will train the LinkedIn algorithm to show you more relevant content that you’re interested in.

– Don’t try to move people away from LinkedIn too soon and don’t sell too soon!

– Follow people you don’t know before you ask them to Connect with you. Always personalise your Connection request (never send a blank request).

If you know that LinkedIn is the place where your target customers hang out and it’s your priority platform to focus on in 2019. Here are a couple of helpful resources:

– John Espirion is my go-to guy for anything LinkedIn related. He’s super helpful and always shares a ton of helpful tips on his LinkedIn. I’d recommend following him/his hashtag #LinkedInLearnerLounge on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnespirian/

– He also has a huge library of learning resources on his website: https://espirian.co.uk/linkedin/

– If you’re curious to know how the LI algorithm works, check out this blog post: https://www.falcon.io/insights-hub/topics/social-media-strategy/how-the-linkedin-algorithm-works-in-2018/

For more information on social media strategy and especially LinkedIn, connect with Lenka at https://www.lenkakoppova.com/

Lenka has already done a session on LinkedIn so if you want to build on that information with more in depth questions, check it out here:  https://www.drivethenetwork.com/blog/how-to-use-linkedin-for-your-business/