/* For Ebook Popup */

As the only social media platform designed especially for professional use, using LinkedIn for sales seems like a no brainer. With more than 467 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is home to a sea of prospects, and savvy salespeople are taking advantage — with good and bad results.

As with any new tool, it takes a while to figure out how to best use LinkedIn for sales. Certain rules and strategies apply. Here’s what to do and what not to do when it comes to using LinkedIn for networking, prospecting and pitching.

Do: enhance your profile

Detailed, well-written LinkedIn profiles aren’t just for job seekers. A comprehensive profile is also a great tool for you, the salesperson, helping you make a good first impression with the potential prospects you connect with.

– Take the time to craft a descriptive headline. Instead of using your job title, describe to your potential clients what it is that you can do for them. Example: “I help companies go green with tech recycling solutions”

– Make sure your profile picture, contact information and social media handles are up-to-date

– Sell yourself in your summary, and in the descriptions of your professional experience. Highlight your unique approach, your values and what you’ve achieved for clients in the past

Don’t: turn your profile into a giant sales pitch

Just as bad as an outdated or blank LinkedIn profile is one that screams “I’m here to sell you something.” Think of your potential prospects as employers: you want them to read your profile and feel convinced that you’re friendly, savvy and smart, but you don’t want to appear desperate. Avoid such lines as “Want to know more? Drop me a line at…” or “I can help you achieve these same results. Let’s chat.”

Do: expand your network

Networking is at the heart of LinkedIn. Maximize the potential of LinkedIn for sales by building out your personal network with not just friends and colleagues, but current clients and potential prospects.

Making connections on LinkedIn unlocks layers of potential new connections. You can check out who your connections are connecting and interacting with, giving you ideas on who you might send an invitation to and start vetting. And by clicking the “My Network” tab, you can peruse LinkedIn’s own suggestions for people you know, or may want to know.

Don’t: send lazy messages

If you’ve used LinkedIn long enough, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of a lazy, useless private message that arrives after accepting a user’s request to connect. Examples include “Nice to connect!” or “Would love to chat by phone or grab a coffee.” These kinds of messages are ineffective attempts to take a LinkedIn connection one step further.

If you send a request to a potential prospect and they accept, craft a friendly, personalized message that provides context and a call-to-action. Address them by name, offer a comment, compliment or question about their company, and then make mention of how your company actually helps businesses like theirs. Then, make a casual request for a brief phone chat, and provide your email address and phone number so that they can reach out.

Do: be an active participant

Your LinkedIn feed is like the professional version of your Facebook newsfeed. You’ll see job updates from your connections, thought leadership posts they’ve written, stories they’ve shared and comments they’ve made on their own connections’ news and content. The updates that appear here are your chance to make impressions by engaging with your prospects. Congratulate them on their job updates, add thoughtful comments or questions to their posts and share what they’ve shared. And share your own content and news, too. Being a regular (but not-over-the-top) presence in your connections’ feeds and notifications inbox will help establish familiarity and trust – key to effectively using LinkedIn for sales efforts.

Don’t: let those interactions go to waste

What’s the point of all those comments and shares if you don’t put them to work for you? Capitalize on the LinkedIn contact you’ve established with a prospect so far and use it as a gateway for sending a warm message.