If you’re looking for a way to get your thoughts and ideas in front of specific markets -- in other words, your ideal clients -- one of the best ways is through LinkedIn’s little-known “Company Pages” feature.
Not many people even know that organizations can have profiles, let alone know how to use those profiles. So if you do, you have a clear edge in the market.
The power that Company Pages offers to you depends on how well you use the rest of LinkedIn -- particularly:
- How many Connections you have,
- How much you participate in Groups, and ...
- How many companies you follow.
Company pages can also be:
- An ideal vehicle for helping get your ideas in front of the right people at your ideal potential clients.
- A way to show ideal clients you can be a source of solutions to issues they’re facing
- A relationship-builder, so that the people you want to meet come to see you as a colleague and peer, rather than just another supplier who wants their business
Our just-produced video, “How to use LinkedIn Company Pages to get your ideas in front of your ideal clients,” shows how to make this happen, using a real-world example. Some points building on what’s in the video:
Understanding the value of Company Pages for prospecting
To see how this works, start by picking a company you’d really like to work with. Say, for example, that you want to work with a professional firm that deals with the environmental implications of ocean-borne shipping.
See if it has a Company Page on LinkedIn, by using the Search function at the top of every LinkedIn screen. Not all companies have one (Global Reach Communications Inc. does), but the great thing is that the techniques below work even if the company doesn’t maintain its page very well.
Company Pages contain information you won’t find through their Website or Twitter feed.
That starts with the company’s announcements, including job openings, that will tell you a lot about their culture. Sometimes, the people who maintain the company’s LinkedIn page are not the same as those who maintain its Web site, and they have access to different information.
But from a business-development point of view, the solid gold on a Company Page is to the right-hand side. LinkedIn being what it is, this page will look different for everyone who views it, because LinkedIn knows who you are... and who you know.
LinkedIn lists the First Connections you have working at that company, which means the people you know personally, as listed as Connections on your profile.
Sometimes, this may provide you with a surprise or two, generally pleasant. You may find that one of your Connections, who you don’t know very well, has recently taken a job with the company. If this person has a good impression of your work, he or she may become your means of entry into a new client relationship.
LinkedIn also lists the Second Connections you have at the company -- meaning people there who know someone you know. Typically, your number of Secondary connections will be tens or hundreds more than your First connections, so there is a much better chance of finding someone with a title or job description that matches your sweet spot in terms of business development. Let’s say you come across someone we’ll call “Nicki” who’s exactly the kind of client you want. She’s head ofa professional firm that provides oceanography-related services.
If you click on the “See All” button, LinkedIn will show you a list that includes Nicki’s picture, job description, and the number of First connections you have in common.
You can then see which of your Connections will be best to approach about giving you an introduction to Nicki. You may find out, when you ask, that the first Connection you approach doesn’t know the person you want to reach very well, in which case you go on to another of your Connections.
Sharing content in targeted Group participation
But what happens if you don’t have any good indirect personal connections to Nicki?
Well, since this newsletter has to do with developing thought leadership content, I tend to see content as the answer (you should have seen that coming...).
If you look at the profile of the person you want to reach, LinkedIn will tell you how you might develop your relationship with that person. Linked In will tell you if:
- You have a Location in common (whether you’re in the same part of the world),
- You have a Company in common (generally, a current or previous employer), or
- If you’re in any of the same Groups.
You can work on the “Group” angle by seeing, from Nicki’s profile, if she’s part of any Groups you’d benefit from joining. In our ocean-transport example, this might include groups of marine biologists, oceanographers, port operators, and ship-owning companies.
Then, find out which Groups Nicki is active in. Then, join those groups. Some are “open” which means anyone can join, and some are “closed” meaning you need to apply to join.
In many cases, if you hit the “join” button, you’ll find that the Managers have set it up that you’re accepted automatically. In other cases, you may need to wait a few days until the Manager as reviewed your application.
Once you’re a member, get active in the group. There’s an ordinal process to this:
- If Nicki posts a comment, you can start by “Liking” her comment, which will give what she’s said a wider reach
- Comment on her comments -- in a positive way, of course
- Ask questions in those comments -- in hopes of getting a dialogue going with her
- Contribute useful content that is relevant to the group -- starting with curated content from other sources, attributed appropriately, with your analysis and questions to stimulate discussion
- Contribute your own content -- blog posts, articles you’ve published elsewhere, slide shows and the like -- with questions to stimulate discussion
- Once Nicki starts to see you as a valued member of the group, you might send her the occasional private response, and eventually a Connection request.
In this process, just be sure to show yourself to be a source of solutions to business and professional issues faced by Nicki and people like her. That way, she’s less likely to feel like she’s being stalked by yet another person who wants to sell her something.
Do this right, and Nicki will come to see you as a peer and a colleague, someone who’s part of her business community, rather than a vendor. And that can be the start of a beautiful business relationship.