by Bruce Segall, President, Marketing Sense
Especially in tough economic times like these, companies are challenging their marketing service providers to produce a return on marketing investment. In other words, they want to see new business come from marketing programs, while spending limited time or money. In the world of LinkedIn, that can mean allocating just a limited amount of time to posting or reconnecting with past colleagues. In fact, one small consulting firm wondered how to achieve results with each of the principal members spending just 15 minutes a week on LinkedIn. Is that really possible?
Reach Out to the LinkedIn Community
LinkedIn has just made it easy (and even fun) to shed some light on interesting challenges like these. With the new “Create a Poll” feature, you can obtain input from your Connections or one or more specific LinkedIn groups. In two polls, members of the LinkedIn community seemed skeptical that you could really have an impact with just 15 minutes of effort each week.
The votes were evenly split, but the poll elicited a fair amount of comments, most of them stating that they spend much more time on LinkedIn as active users. Social media requires consistent effort, according to those surveyed.
LinkedIn – A Staff Meeting Agenda Item?
The consulting firm owner had a further idea – that LinkedIn could be an agenda item on a weekly staff meeting. Perhaps the discipline of a few people sitting uninterrupted for 15 minutes working on LinkedIn would have a positive multiplier effect. The consensus of those surveyed was no more positive. Here is one response – “15 minutes is simply not enough time.”
15 Minutes a Week – What is Realistic?
While there are some professionals who are willing to invest time, others are just too busy or set in their ways. For those reluctant professionals who can be cajoled into spending 15 minutes a week, what activities are most important?
- Sharing an occasional post with your network. You can share a professional event or involvement or news about your company. With new LinkedIn options, it’s easy to engage your Connections by recognizing one or more colleagues, or through a quick poll, as noted above. If you can’t manage a post a week, at least commit to once a month.
- Scan your incoming invitations to Connect and engage with those who sound interesting before accepting or ignoring the invite. With only 15 minutes a week, you will not be able to engage individual connections on an ongoing basis; the “invitation moment” is your chance to engage and uncover potential relationships for the future.
- Be sure Comment on other peoples’ posts. Those who gain the most from LinkedIn help others too.
With such a compressed time, however, you should be realistic about the potential impact. With only 15 minutes a week, you can keep your professional brand visible. In contrast, business development centers around relationships, and these are unlikely to develop in 15 minutes a week or less.
Achieving Real Business Development Benefits
Two approaches for business development on LinkedIn are as follows:
LinkedIn Business Development “Light”
This approach can work for those willing to spend at least an hour a week doing business development on LinkedIn. Some steps in a weekly business development routine include:
- Reserving time on your calendar to Message select Connections, especially prior clients and prospects
- Using the free “People” search feature (specifically the “All filters” function) to develop a prospect list by industry, geography and even keyword
- Reconnecting with old colleagues using the “Past Companies” filter within “People” search
Serious Use of LinkedIn Sales Navigator
To have the best chance of business development success, you will need to invest in Sales Navigator, LinkedIn’s prospecting and insights tool. Sales Navigator is pricey for small businesses – $80/month, but , slightly less if you purchase a year’s subscription upfront. Sales Navigator offers sophisticated search filters. You can select prospects literally down to each individual zip code and further filter by exact titles or the prospect’s level of LinkedIn activity. In order to be successful, you need to have the discipline to “work” your leads every day and most likely use in conjunction with a CRM system like Salesforce.
In summary, the idea of spending 15 minutes a week on LinkedIn might result in a modest amount of visibility. However, if you are looking for tangible business benefits, 15 minutes is not enough in today’s crowded online world. However, one good idea to come out of this challenge is a scheduled 15 minutes each week for all members of the team, ensuring that no team member “cuts corners” with the meager 15 minutes they are committing.