5 LinkedIn must-dos for govcon professionals

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for social selling, and here marketing guru Mark Amtower explains five actions every govcon player should take.

At this point most people have figured out two things about LinkedIn: first, you have to be here; second, it is not a “hard sell” platform, it is a “social sell” platform. OK, well maybe not as many people have learned No. 2, but with more than 1.5 million feds on LinkedIn, there are few who fail to see the value on being on LinkedIn.

For those still a little confused, social selling is more about positioning your company as a preferred source and your key talent as experts. These help develop the credentials for being a preferred vendor. LinkedIn is a marketing tool, not a sales tool. Social selling is getting on the radar of the prospect before you make a direct approach, turning a cold call into a warm call.

What can and should you do to stand out and become that preferred source, getting on the radar of those you want to do business with?

As a LinkedIn company coach and perpetual student of the platform, these are five things I recommend you need to be doing on a regular basis.

First, make certain your subject matter experts and other key personnel have profiles that provide all the information necessary to convince buyers and influencers of their legitimate positions in the market. Regardless of where they speak or publish, their profiles have to create a strong impression. LinkedIn profiles are one of the top sources for vetting those in our market.

A mediocre profile does not create new opportunities or allow you to exploit current opportunities. There are several key elements to the profile, but the top three are the photo, the headline and your summary. Use a professional headshot with a smile, create a headline that emphasizes the main skill, and write a summary that addresses what you and your company do in the government contracting arena.

Be specific and be clear.

Second, monitor the activity of your competitors and key subject matter experts in the market. You can do so anonymously by adjusting the “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile” in the Privacy and Settings mode. This will allow you to view profiles and see what people are up to. You want to monitor key competitors and learn from the subject matter experts.

The third task is monitoring the groups you belong to on a regular basis. You can do this by scanning the group emails that come out on a daily basis. Review recent posts and comment when you have something to add. Being active in the groups will raise your visibility, and being active in a positive manner can raise your credibility. I am assuming that you belong to groups germane to your work and your company.

The fourth area is monitoring “Who viewed my profile.” In 2014 this was the most popular feature on LinkedIn, and justifiably so.  Let’s say you have 49 profile visitors a week, an average of seven per day. About 50 percent of those will be first degree connections, but that leaves about 25 people who viewed you for some reason. I have been able to use this to reach out to and connect with some very interesting and influential people, including people in companies I would like to work with.

The fifth activity is your connection requests. When you receive requests to connect, always vet the individual before connecting. Often those who don’t look like a solid fit turn into good connections, not always, but often enough. If they look peripheral, ask for clarification before saying no.

The same is true when you are reaching out to connect. Make sure you are reaching out to the right person, then offer a context for the outreach. Don’t simply use the LinkedIn form letter.

Five simple activities done on a regular basis can make LinkedIn pay more dividends for you.

Amtower is presenting the final 2015 session of LinkedIn for GovCon Oct. 7 in Columbia, Md.