Before we begin to talk about LinkedIn as the tool, let’s talk about lead generation. In marketing, lead generation is the capturing of a potential buyer’s information often in exchange for content. Leads can be created for purposes such as list building, newsletters or prospecting lists for sales leads. In general, marketing has always owned lead generation do a first pass a qualifying them then passing them to sales to work.

The sales team, traditionally did not have a role in the inbound efforts, but things are changing. As the sales professionals are positioning themselves as thought leaders and subject matter experts, they are now in a better position to capture their own leads right from LinkedIn.

I want to be really clear, just because someone connects with you on LinkedIn does not make them a lead – it makes them a contact. They are not a lead until they raise their hand and show interest. That being said, it is your job to attract, teach and engage those contacts. First you have to get them to show up to your content, pique  their interest by offering free content that will get them to think differently about their current situation, company or industry and engage them to want more by downloading your offer.

To begin you will need a great piece of content that your visitors are worth buying with their contact information. Yes, buying. This content is not free, it is in exchange for their name, email, phone number or any other field you require them to complete. (The less you ask the more leads you will get. If you ask for too much, they may abandon the landing page 1/2 way through registration). Types of content that people tend to opt in for are:

  1. eBooks designed to be read on a phone or computer, typically in a .pdf form. A successful ebook should have 7+ pages that includes graphics and actionable steps. Each page should be able to be read as a stand alone point. DOWNLOAD 13 eBook Templates.
  2. Pre-recorded, on-demand webinars that have real value for your visitor. This is not a pitch video or description of your product or services, it is educational and provides real value to the viewer. HERE are examples of webinars that we ran live, but are now on-demand for lead capture.
  3. Infographic is another way to share insights with your audience. Many people enjoy learning through visuals, they tend to share updates with images more and because of this a good infographic can go viral. HERE is a site where you can begin building infographics right away.

Next, determine where you are going to host your content. Often you can upload it right to your website and have a link to bring people to, but you can host your content on sites like:

    1. Box.com is free and is a great way to upload a pdf or any file. You will get a link that you can share with anyone.
    2. Dropbox’s major differentiator from Box.com is anything you add to Dropbox will automatically show up on all your computers, phones and even the Dropboxwebsite — so you can access your stuff from anywhere.
    3. Slideshare   is a slide hosting service, acquired by LinkedIn in 2012. It allows users to upload files (PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote, or OpenDocument presentations) either privately or publicly. The slide decks can then be viewed on the site itself or can be embedded on other sites.
    4. Google Docs  allows you to share any document, be sure to set your share settings to allow anyone with the link to view it.
    5. For video try: Wistia, Vimeo or YouTube

Now, you will need to create a landing page that will allow you to capture the contact information in exchange for your content. Here are a few options for lead pages:

  1. Create forms inside of your website – most websites like WordPress, Square Space and others have a forms option where you can choose the fields your visitors need to enter in order to access your content.
  2. Hubspot (practically invented inbound marketing) is an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.
  3. Google Forms (free) allows custom forms for your lead capture page and immediately takes your lead to a page where they can download your content. You can gather everything in a spreadsheet and analyze data right in Google Sheets. The key here is you need to
  4. Clearslide is a SaaS-based Sales Engagement platform that lets users share content / sales materials via custom links. This is one of the primary tools I use. Here is how I use it.
  5. Leadpages  has a plethora of templates to choose from that truly make your landing page look as professional as can be. In addition you can have campaign launch for everyone that opts in.
  6. Instapage Build landing pages in minutes, integrate them into your CRM and even A/B test your content to see what works best.

Lastly, you need to get people here. This can be the biggest challenge people face, and since this blog post is titled “Use LinkedIn as Powerful Inbound Lead Generation Tool”  here are 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to get your visitors to opt in to your landing page:

  1. Put a link to your landing page in your summary.
  2. Add your lead page link to the projects or publications section on your profile.
  3. Add the link in your welcome noteThank you for connecting with me on LinkedIn. I am not sure if you are using LinkedIn for sales, but if you are, I want to share with you some of our LinkedIn messaging templates that can have a big impact on your business development effortshttp://sslink.co/PeopleLinxLinkedInTemplates. – Brynne 
  4. Add the lead page link in a post on your newsfeed.
  5. Include the link in a call-to-action at the bottom of your LinkedIn Pulse blog posts.

BONUS: Tweet it out every few days.

Using LinkedIn as a lead generation tool is a powerful way for sales professionals to develop their own inbound leads. Please share your inbound lead links in comments with a short description!