Note: I first published this post back in 2013, a little before social selling started to take off. Now that we’re building a social selling mobile app, I thought I’d revisit it. Today, some of this advice is like, no-duh! But you might be surprised how many salespeople haven’t gotten the memo.
So your startup is going to an important conference where you hope to attract attention and start conversations with partners, backers, and prospects. You all have LinkedIn profiles, so you’re ready to go, social media-wise, right?
Of course, it’s important for you to be on LinkedIn. If they’re interested, people you meet at the conference will probably look you up to find out more information about you than what is contained on your business card or trifold. They’ll want to know how seriously to take you.
We see many, many profiles on LinkedIn that are really barebones. A weak summary statement and incomplete information about your background can be a real turnoff for the folks who are gauging whether you’re for real or not.
So to prepare for an important conference, follow our recommendations for beefing up your LinkedIn presence:
Improve Your Profile
- If you’ve got a day job while starting your startup, be sure the startup company name is listed first in the Experience section. Your picture, name, headline, location, current position, and company are bits of information that follow you around on LinkedIn. For example, this info, along with your picture, is what shows up in search listings.
So how are the people you meet at the conference going to find you? By searching. For the name on your badge, or on your card, or on that napkin from the bar. If I’m someone at this conference and want to know whom to talk to, I’m going to look on LinkedIn, not read everyone’s business cards. (It won’t surprise you to know that our app will make this easier.)
- Ensure that there is a good description of your startup – more than one or two sentences. This is where you present your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and try to interest people in reading more and possibly going to your Website. This example is not optimal:
All company members should have a uniform description of the company and what it does, followed by a second paragraph on what their role is.
- Include a recent picture, of just you, not you and your spouse or dog or kid. Have it professionally done, if possible. Dress in clothes appropriate to your business. The picture should be clear, and show your face, unlike this one:
- Fill in all the experience sections of your profile. Again, this speaks to credibility. You all may be really smart, but on LinkedIn, you need to give evidence of industry or domain knowledge and experience to establish your bona fides. This information should be pertinent to the mission of your startup.
- Create a strong summary statement. It’s OK to have personal aspirations in this statement, but keep it fact-based and fairly short, no more than 200 words.
Here’s an example of a weak summary statement: “I have brought success to numerous firms by taking a strategic and systematic approach to financial operations.” This is generic and vague. If you’re going to make a statement like this, back it up with details. Strive for statements that will set you apart from others.
- List the company Twitter account as your Twitter account and list other appropriate social media presences. Also, list the company Website. Recently, LinkedIn kind of hid that area. It’s to the right of your photo under Contact and Personal information.
- Get appropriate recommendations, both personal and skill. It’s OK to endorse one another, but keep that to a minimum. Seek out people who will give you a great recommendation that is pertinent to what you’re doing in your startup.
Pre-Conference LinkedIn Activities
- Join relevant LinkedIn groups. Yes, I know people are harshing on Groups, and there are rumors of their demise. But there’s a terrific reason to join a Group: You can InMail its members for free! Use the Groups search to find them. Other LinkedIn members can’t tell when you’ve joined, just that you’re a member, so don’t worry that they’ll find out you’re a newbie. If there’s time, comment on posts and post one or two items of your own.
- Definitely post in groups that you are attending the conference. Ask if anyone else is going and if they want to meet for a drink, dinner, sightseeing, something fun.
- Look up all conference keynote speakers on LinkedIn and visit their profiles. The keynoters can see these visits to their profiles (some visits are visible for free accounts; all for premium accounts), and this could trigger conversations with those folks. We’ve connected with lots of people just because we saw them checking out our profiles.
- Create a Company Page. Seriously. If you don’t have a Company Page on LinkedIn, you don’t exist. (We may have overstated that just a bit.) It’s easy to do, and you can even list your products.
- Post a PowerPoint describing your startup on SlideShare and link it to the individual profiles of company members. Having a PowerPoint on SlideShare conveys an air of professionalism and credibility, even though any jaboney can post there.
We recommend that all principals take these steps, but those who are attending definitely must address these issues.
There’s lots more about using social media for B2B sales in our book The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for B2B Sales Success – Sales Person Edition. Get a free chapter at http://bit.ly/InfPipeCh1 And, of course, you’ll want to follow our progress on our social selling mobile app, SalesMVP™ by signing up for our newsletter or following us on Twitter @NextPhaseSellin.