There’s generally a difference between networking and lead generation, but the reality is we’re generally always looking for opportunities to make connections that could someday turn into leads. LinkedIn has primarily been a tool for job searchers and B2B sales opportunities, but that’s changing as personal and professional lives increasingly blend together. More people are looking to make connections not based on the tool they use, but on where they spend their time. With 500 million members (75% of whom have incomes over $75,000), and considering that 40% of LinkedIn users use the service daily, it’s a great platform for finding potential clients.
Networking is an always-on activity if we’re going to keep a steady lead stream coming in, but it’s just as critical to be astute about your activity on LinkedIn.
Robbing banks and collecting leads
Someone once asked infamous bank robber, Willie Sutton, why he robbed banks. His reply: “‘Cuz that’s where the money is.” By the same token, you can spend time networking and creating leads in a lot of different places, but LinkedIn is where the leads are. In fact, LinkedIn provides 277% more leads than Facebook and Twitter. It also presents a solution to the issue of scale; you can simply connect with more people digitally than you can going door-to-door. Certainly, quality of the connection is important, but if done correctly, you engage with potential customers on LinkedIn just as effectively as with other lead channels, but with much higher odds of reaching a massive volume.
Besides being such a dynamic source of activity, LinkedIn is also underutilized by Realtors®, so this is an opportune time to get on board. Interestingly, of all businesses, agents included, 98% have a Facebook page, yet only 66% use LinkedIn. Real estate agents need to make use of any and every tool that can deliver success; if LinkedIn isn’t on your list, you owe it to yourself to learn how to leverage it.
The site is loaded with data and information that will help make your lead generation easier, but it can also be overwhelming; Our tips will help you be smart and focused in how you take advantage of it:
1. Establish your role as a leader and guide
LinkedIn provides an easy-to-use platform for publishing original content. That means articles you write can be published for free and distributed to your connections and followers. It establishes you as a trusted thought leader and it keeps you top of mind among your connections.
John Hall, CEO of marketing firm Influence & Co, recommends using LinkedIn as a key tool for elevating your profile. He said, “…with LinkedIn’s publishing platform, you have the chance to more easily stay top of mind by publishing content and getting it in front of your audience the moment you hit ‘publish’.”
You might want to take research on real estate trends and write a synopsis. Maybe you had an experience with a great client and you want to share that. Or perhaps there’s some specialty you service as a Realtor® (downtown lofts, rural lots, houses ready to be flipped) about which you already have a lot of knowledge and facts. Write a piece that will help people become smarter as it relates to home buying or selling and they will look to you for future advice.
2. Create a success platform
LinkedIn users tend to be ambitious and achievement-focused. 54% of LinkedIn users are college graduates or have some college experience. These are job seekers looking to improve their status and the LinkedIn demographic skews towards those in professional careers; they appreciate success and like to be around it. With that in mind, use it as a way to showcase your own successes — houses you’re listing, ones you’ve sold, customer testimonials, or anything that users will see that say, “This is someone who is trusted and gets things done.”
3. Promote offline activities
As you build awareness and an audience of followers and connections on LinkedIn, you may want to use it as a way to generate interest in offline events and activities. Open houses, informal wine and cheese get-togethers, informational seminars, or other opportunities for potential customers to meet you in real-time. Awareness coming from LinkedIn is automatically trusted and the announcements you post on your LinkedIn page look professional.
4. Connect and connect more
You’ll likely start out your LinkedIn experience by connecting with dozens, if not hundreds, of people you know. Spend time to get those connections, and then start connecting with THOSE people’s connections. The concept of “three degrees of influence” actually supports the idea that second and third-degree connections can often be more effective when it comes to creating new relationships.
5. Connect, don’t sell
Keep in mind that LinkedIn is for making connections, not directly for selling. Don’t put the hard sell on, but rather, make them aware of your skill set, your success, and your ability to provide your service when needed. It’s a softer approach, but because you can create such a large network, the odds of turning connections into actual clients are much greater than when using other avenues.
LinkedIn can be an incredible tool for real estate agents, but don’t expect a flood of leads to start filling up your phone. Professionals who are patient and know how to network effectively and engage constructively, however, will eventually find that LinkedIn can be among the more valuable tools for creating, sustaining, and delivering profitable professional relationships.