For many people, LinkedIn is a way for them to promote themselves as they look to bolster their careers or look for new jobs… especially nowadays. And for that group, LinkedIn can work very well.

As a salesperson, though, you’re not looking to bolster yourself in that career mindset. While a goal of yours should be to build yourself up as a thought leader in your industry, your use of LinkedIn is ultimately about providing your audience of prospects help in solving their business-related “pains.”

To accomplish this, you need to get out of the “me” way of thinking about your LinkedIn activity and focus on your customer. Here’s where the mistakes come in, and here’s what to do about them.

Pitching Your Product Way Too Early

It’s something that just might be at an all-time high on LinkedIn: Pitching a product or service immediately after connecting with someone, or worse yet, promoting a product within the initial connection request itself. The former has always been a problem, and we see more and more of the latter all of the time.

You’ve likely gone through this experience yourself: You accept an invitation from someone you probably don’t know but thought, “Hey, that’d be a good person to have in my network.” Almost immediately after you accept, you get hit with a pitch from your newly minted connection about their latest and greatest product.

Immediately pitching to someone is so wrong in so many ways. The worst aspect of it is there is zero value delivered in a pitch. The person sending it hasn’t proven themselves or their product or service. They’ve brought you zero value in their understanding of what you’re going through. The only thing they’ve done is shout, “Hey, I’m here! Buy my stuff!” Very self-focused (on them).

At this point, you might be saying, “Hey, what about inMails?” For the uninitiated, inMail is a paid product from LinkedIn that lets members send you messages for when not connected with them. Unfortunately, inMail now has a terrible reputation for being an “all-pitch” zone. You may have seen them. These messages tend to be highly impersonal, and they go for the “kill” by immediately asking for an appointment. All of this is decidedly not cool to do on LinkedIn.

I think we’re seeing this more than ever because of some desperation in the marketplace with the world of COVID in which we now live. While I get that, such efforts Just. Don’t. Work. Instead, everything you do on LinkedIn should be about our mantra here at Social Sales Link: Attract, Teach, and Engage. Attract them with your profile (more on that below). Teach them through not only your profile but with both the great content you share and the comments and interactions you have on others’ content. And engage with people on the platform. Do all of these successfully, and you’ll get far more sales conversations started than through immediate, cold pitching.

A Self-Focused Headline

Besides your name, one of the most prominent items of your profile a prospect sees is your headline—the section where you tell who you are and what you do. Think of your headline as a quick and easy way to communicate who you help and how you help others with your product or service. Don’t think of it as a line where you just list your title and company name. That’s self-focused and does nothing to educate your viewers about how you can help them.

If your headline doesn’t speak to their needs, they probably won’t bother reading anything else in your profile, and you’ve lost a potential prospect.

Your headline needs to cover four areas: who you help, how you can help them, the results you bring, and your solutions. It needs to be simple because you have to convey this in 220 characters or less. So boil down the who and how into a simple phrase that will catch attention. Here are a couple of examples:

Reshaping How Sales & Business Development Pros Leverage LinkedIn to Start More Conversations with Targeted Buyers 💻 Instructor-Led Training & On-Demand eLearning ∙ Individual & Group Coaching | CMO at Social Sales Link (that’s mine)

Transforming the Way IT Security Infrastructure Pros can Lock Down their Enterprise Networks

Helping Home Buyers and Sellers with the Biggest Financial Decision of their Lives

Instead of re-hashing your corporate title, treat your headline as an opportunity to let your prospects know the value you will bring them. Make them want to contact you because you’ll be a great help to them with your product/service.

A Self-Focused About Section

Let’s say your headline has convinced your profile reader to scroll down and click into your About section. The last thing you want to do is talk about you: the awards you’ve won, your specific skills, and so on. Again, that’s self-focused and doesn’t demonstrate how you help others. Instead, you need to accomplish goals that are probably different from what you may be thinking:

  • Get them curious about what you do
  • Teach them something new
  • Move them closer to your solution
  • Get them to schedule a call

You create curiosity by presenting the challenge your target audience faces. Since you sell to them already, you know what they face. Let them know that you know by describing it.

Next, you teach them something new by providing vendor-agnostic insights. Ideally, you’ll provide information that they can take action on right away… without having to reach out to you. This way, you’re starting to build yourself as a thought leader in their minds. If for some reason you can’t provide these kinds of insights, then ask questions about what they’re facing; get them thinking more about the “pain” they have, which is why they’re likely viewing your profile in the first place.

At this point, you’ve got them really thinking about their problem. This is when you can move them closer to your solution by letting them know exactly how you can help them solve their problem. Use bullet points if necessary.

Finally, get them to schedule a call by telling a little bit about yourself and providing contact information. At this point, they may want to reach out to you. Give them the info they need to do so right away—ideally via phone, and email.

A Commonality

There’s a common thread that runs through all of these points: You need to look at your prospects’ problems through their eyes, not yours. They don’t care about your passions or how long you’ve been in your business. They only want to solve their problem(s).

Present yourself as their problem solver, or their “go-to” expert in their business, and you’ve got a great shot at starting that sales conversation and then securing them as a client.