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Why B2B marketing professionals should leverage LinkedIn

LinkedIn, one of the most powerful business tools, helps B2B marketing professionals in lead nurturing and lead generation. It is the most effective social network for B2B marketers because it provides a bridge between companies and buyers (1). Companies can search on LinkedIn for potential prospects and build a trusting relationship with buyers.

Many businesses are utilizing LinkedIn for a variety of reasons. More than 45 percent of respondents search for other companies (2). Additionally, more than 36 percent of 896 active LinkedIn users said the networking site is especially effective in helping them expand their network and develop business. All of these purposes help marketers nurture leads.

LinkedIn provides a channel for content marketing and business development
LinkedIn is one of  the most popular social media networks for content sharing (3). Any time a prospect navigates through a company's website, whether he or she is reading blog entries or contributing to a forum, a salesperson should take advantage of this by inviting the potential buyer to join  the LinkedIn group.

Unlike a website, a LinkedIn connection provides marketers with the opportunity to spark a dialogue. Salespeople can personalize messages and follow up with members, which develops business relationships. Additionally, buyers can familiarize themselves with the company and make a decision based on the information at hand. This may lead to a stronger and longer-lasting business connection. 

A LinkedIn group generates leads
LinkedIn has about 300 million members (4). There are more than 2 million LinkedIn groups, 3 million company pages and 1.2 million products placed on company pages (2). These sites are referred to as "communities." They serve as a space to discuss shared interests and connect with other businesses. Groups provide marketers with a channel to promote their own products, events and services. It does require some time and planning to develop business relationships that will lead to sales, as well as ongoing referrals (2). These connections are invaluable now and in the future. 

Part of managing a group involves reaching out to other LinkedIn groups. They must be based on quality and not the number of members. For example, connect with relevant  LinkedIn groups that may be interested in a company's services, including associations, universities and industry organizations (2). 

Emphasize a company's human element
Be sure to make an introduction so other groups' members are aware of the company's presence. Consider messaging individual members, attending offline events and playing an active role in the group. This may include reading and commenting in discussions, leading those conversations and serving as a problem solver for other members.

Use search filters to find leads. Sort by using an array of criteria. After finding the most qualified influencers in the group, send out customized invitations. Don't just send the generic invitation, put some effort into the message. It's key to explain the reason for connecting, such as how it will benefit the potential buyer. The best way to personalize the message is find an interesting fact about the person and mention it in the invitation. For example, a B2B marketer could talk about how he or she went to the same college as the prospect.  

Marketers enjoy better outcomes with social networks
Social networks like LinkedIn are vital to an effective marketing campaign. It is not something to put on the back burner, especially  in the B2B industry (5). When B2B marketing professionals decide to dive into the sphere or brush up on LinkedIn best practices, they should consider engaging buyers with well-written content. Come off with an authoritative voice, spur a conversation among businesses and foster strong relationships with key decision-makers. LinkedIn provides marketers with a space to effectively nurture and generate leads. 

1. B2B selling via LinkedIn
2. How people use LinkedIn
3.Content marketing trends for B2B
4. Generate leads with LinkedIn groups
5. Which social networks ideal for marketers

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.