If You Aren’t Measuring Your Results, Maybe You Shouldn’t Be Doing It 

I see this all the time. Someone will tell me about their great habit of finding content to share on LinkedIn, or commenting on posts, or publishing posts, or participating in LinkedIn groups or any number of LinkedIn related activities. 

And I will ask them what their goals are in performing these activities. 

“To generate sales leads.”

“Great! How many leads have you generated, and how many do you expect to generate over what time period?” 

“Um…”

Exactly. They have an idea of what they would like to do, they are putting lots of work in, but they aren’t measuring the results coming out. Are their results commensurate with the effort they are putting in?

If you or your company are in this position, let me offer a couple suggestions, using my early days as a content creator on LinkedIn as an example (this was back before “creator” came with a capital “C”).

  • Have a specific goal in mind. 

Back when LinkedIn first granted publishing abilities to us users, I figured I could write content that would generate leads. I didn’t know if generating leads was possible, but I thought that if I posted regularly I would be able to devise a way of tracking the response to my content and turning that into a lead generation system. I figured if I could generate ten leads a month, I could convert one or two of them into steady customers. This was just my hypothesis though, and as writing content can be fairly time consuming, I was going to track and test everything I did.

Back in those days (six years ago), articles seemed like the best type of content to use, as I could write longer pieces if I wanted to, and there were more formatting options than with posts. So I started writing and publishing one LinkedIn article every week. 

  • Track what you are doing

Whenever I published an article, I measured everything – views, likes, comments, new connection invites, new followers, the number of people who visited my profile – you name it, I tracked it. Spreadsheet madness (and I hate spreadsheets).

  • Figure out what is meaningful

Over time, I came to understand that there were people buried in all these statistics that could be prospects. How did I find that out? By reaching out to them. I made a habit of reaching out to all of the people I could identify that interacted with my content who appeared to fit my ideal client profile and I sent them outreach messages. If they were amenable I would connect with them and see where things went from there. I found that people that fell within certain categories were more responsive than others – for example, I found I could get a response from upwards of seventy percent of the people that commented on one of my articles, but a less than fifty percent response rate from the people that liked my articles.

An unexpected benefit from all this outreach was I got pretty darn good at writing outreach messages.  

  • Apply what you have learned and narrow your focus

In my case, I set about developing a system that went after the commenters and followers that fit my client profile. By that time there were a lot of people publishing on LinkedIn talking about new features and changes to old features, so I tried to focus on writing content that was interesting and novel in the way I looked at using LinkedIn. This helped to gather followers and comments from the type of people I was looking for. 

Here’s the key to this whole endeavor: after a few months I found that I could predict pretty accurately how many leads I would generate from an article by late in the same day I published it. 

Note that the one thing that most people measure – views – is the one thing I discarded almost immediately as being worthless to me. I wanted to be able to contact people and I couldn’t tell who my specific viewers were.

How I personally use LinkedIn continues to evolve, both as the platform changes and my needs change. I am constantly experimenting – there are LinkedIn engagement metrics I still monitor every day, and I am tracking another idea with this Newsletter – and measuring the results of those experiments.

So that’s today’s message: there are multiple ways you can use LinkedIn. Once you have figured out what you think you can use LinkedIn to do, figure out how you are going to do it and especially how you are going to measure your results. And even when you find success, keep measuring to ensure you are on the right path. 

 

Embrace Your Inner Sherlock Holmes On LinkedIn

I have been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories since I read “The Adventure Of The Dancing Men” back in high school. In that short story, Holmes resolves the mystery behind what appear to be children’s drawings that start appearing in the garden of a client who retains him. What is obvious to Holmes – that the series of dancing figures are in fact messages – eludes everyone else involved.

In the short story, “A Scandal in Bohemia” Holmes utters one of his most famous lines to Doctor Watson, “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.”

That is the way most users are on LinkedIn. They take what’s presented to them at face value, and don’t think of what could be behind what’s happening or of the cause of what is happening. And this is a shame, because if people saw all the information presented to them and stopped to ask themselves what that meant they would make much better use of LinkedIn.

Let me illustrate what I mean with a couple examples.

A LinkedIn user goes to the profile of someone who is a prospective customer. He sees that the prospect has the right title, though no additional information about their current responsibilities is listed, just the title and years in that position. The same holds true for their previous jobs. The prospect has a couple hundred connections, a smattering of skills, and the other key sections of their profile filled out.

Using what little information he can glean from the user’s profile, our sales person sends the prospect an outreach message via InMail. He uses a solid message format that has been very successful in the past.

And receives no reply.

Does it take Sherlock Holmes to see that the prospect in question was a poor candidate for this approach? The low number of connections, the spartan profile, and the absence of activity all point to someone who places little value in LinkedIn and does not come around that often. How can a person who doesn’t show up see our salesperson’s outreach message?

The better approach would have been to try this person through an introduction if possible, or via email, with a direct LinkedIn message being the last resort.

Our LinkedIn user had all the evidence he needed to decide on this better approach. He saw but did not observe.

A second LinkedIn user is looking at a competitor’s LinkedIn Company Page.

She sees that the company in question is publishing to their Company Page on a regular basis. This competitor has many more followers than her company does. It appears obvious that regular publsihing to a Company Page leads to more followers.

Thus inspired that company pages do work for companies in her industry, she goes back to her company page and starts publishing posts about her company’s capabilities. But nothing much happens.

What our second user has done is seen that a company page can be a success, but not really examined her competitor’s Page to see why it was a success. Closer examination would have shown her that the competitive company is publishing content their prospective customers will find valuable – case studies, white papers, technical articles, how-to lists – and the competitor is publishing this type of content on a regular basis.

Our second user saw the regularity of the posting, but did not observe the type of posts being published.

When you see something on LinkedIn, ask yourself, what does this information really mean for me?

Look at the data that LinkedIn has presented you with. There is a lot more there than you would think, things like that little “2” beside someone’s name, meaning they are a second degree connection and you know someone they know, or that all of their activity is date stamped so you can infer when they are using LinkedIn and how often.

Taking an extra moment to look for these things will in the end save you time and you will use LinkedIn more effectively.

Wearing a deerstalker cap while doing so is optional.

And an update:

A couple months ago I published a newsletter where the subject was fake profiles on LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s Trust and Safety people clamped down on several hundred fakes I identified, but as soon as they get rid of one batch another seems to spring up. One company that I am monitoring had 700 “employees” with LinkedIn profiles a month ago. They now have 1600. I am not sure LinkedIn is winning this battle.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. I was going to write this disclaimer using the Dancing Men code, but after seing how long it would take, I decided some ideas are better off just left as ideas.

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

A Sales Story: An Inadvertent Lesson In Crowdsourcing 

Many moons ago I was a Regional Sales Manager based in Atlanta. There was another RSM named Ed that occupied the cubicle next to mine. We both spent eighty percent of our time out of the office in our respective territories, so we were only in the office at the same time two or three times a month. 

One afternoon, I could hear Ed on the phone next door to me, and I could hear him getting more and more exasperated as the call went on. He finally hung up, wheeled his chair back around the divider so he could talk to me and we had the following conversation.

Ed, “I have been searching for the key guy for our products at IBM. I have been looking for him for months now.” 

(this was pre-LinkedIn of course, and actually pre-Internet. You had to do everything by phone and networking)

“So I was just talking with your brother.” 

(my brother was a product manager at our offices in Toronto)

“And it turns out that your brother knew who the key guy was all this time!” 

Me, “You mean Henry Steinbecker?” 

Ed, “WHAT? YOU KNOW WHO HE WAS TOO?” 

Me, “Well yeah. He’s in their offices in RTP, off Six Forks Road. I went to see him back when I was selling our catalog products. I think it was maybe two years ago. Want his phone number?”

At this point Ed’s face turned a rather alarming shade of red, and he proceeded to use a lot of words I am quite sure his mother did not teach him. 

But here’s the thing. The information Ed so badly wanted – for months – was four feet away. All he had to do was mention it to me. 

So what does Ed’s predicament thirty years ago have to do with us and LinkedIn? Just this: with LinkedIn you have two huge avenues to crowdsource for help with your problems. The first is your connections. Your connections are a searchable database. Anything you need help with, information on, or opinions about, can likely be found among your connections. I have asked my connections for advice on tools, ideas, approaches, you name it. And I am happy to share my experience and knowledge back with them. This avenue in particular would have saved my colleague Ed a lot of time and trouble.

The second avenue is, well, all of LinkedIn. If you are searching for a new CRM to use, why not put together a post about what you are doing and what you need and publish it on LinkedIn? Yes, you will get a pile of salespeople, but you will also get a lot of good opinions, advice and you may meet some people that are worth connecting with.

Crowdsourcing: An under utilized – but valuable – use for LinkedIn