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A Guide to LinkedIn's Social Selling Index

It's no secret that LinkedIn has become a must-have for professionals spanning across all industries. For anyone who wants to conduct business online, Microsoft's professional networking site is usually the best place to start.

Platforms like LinkedIn have help popularize a new form of digital salesmanship: social selling.

Hootsuite defines social selling as "the art of using social media to find, connect with, understand, and nurture sales prospects."

This makes social selling into a handy tool in the toolbox of online sales. But it also means that you must know how to properly implement social selling. Among other things, you have to measure your ability to find, connect, understand, nurture– that's a lot to keep track of.

Luckily, LinkedIn has created a Social Selling Index, which measures your current level of social selling performance. This index combines four elements of your LinkedIn profile and gives you a raw score out of 100 to display how effective you are at social selling on the platform.

In this post we'll walk through these four elements and look at how LinkedIn's Social Selling Index can positively impact your online sales.

1. Establishing a Professional Brand

A unique aspect of social media is that in many ways, the user is the brand. Every profile, post, image, etc. is an opportunity to establish that brand in a way that sets you apart in the eyes of your potential customer.

LinkedIn emphasizes the idea that you should create your profile with the customer in mind. That doesn't mean you need to pander; making your profile a thinly veiled advertisement is far from attractive to a prospect.

Instead, establish yourself as a thought leader by publishing meaningful, authentic posts that your audience will find appealing. According to LinkedIn, 81% of buyers are more likely to engage with a strong, professional brand.

When creating a post, write about what you know. Find a topic within your area of expertise and relate it to your audience in a way that piques their interest– that engages them.

2. Connecting with the right people

It's obvious, but still just as true: if you aren't connecting with the right people on LinkedIn, you'll never be effective at selling online.

LinkedIn has several solutions (some free and some part of Sales Navigator) that can help you more accurately connect with prospects.

Simple tactics like joining LinkedIn groups that match your industry our audience's interests can help expose you to more leads.

Paid features like in-depth profile searches and the ability to save and categorize lead lists take connection to another level, and greatly increase your chances of turning a cold connection into a paying customer.

3. Sharing quality insights

Going beyond thought leadership, LinkedIn counts a person's ability to stimulate exisitng conversation just as important as creating a post organically.

In practice this means sharing 3rd party content that makes an impact on your desired audience, without making the conversation about yourself. LinkedIn suggests sharing this informative content in LinkedIn Groups or personalizing it for direct messages (InMails).

LinkedIn has no features to craft these conversations natively, so you'll have take the time to find this insightful content on your own.

Alternatively, Soundboard has a free Chrome extension that analyzes your leads interests, finds content that will get their attention, and even has suggested messages to personalize each interaction, whether 1-to-1 or 1-to-many.

Click here to download the Soundboard extension for free today and start sharing quality insights on LinkedIn, Facebook, and more.

4. Nurturing relationships

After the initial connection, the work of the social seller is not done. Follow up is essential to make a prospect a buyer. LinkedIn, though, doesn't call for following up with any and all leads. It scores this category by tracking the amount of a specific type of connection: decision makers.

LinkedIn estimates that a purchase decision in the current online market requires 5.4 decision makers. Meaning, you can't go after one lead at a company and expect instant success. Instead, you need to deploy consistent follow-up content to several decision makers at a given company in order to better secure a successful account.

Re-sharing and commenting on prospect's posts, bringing multiple decision makers into the conversation, and using Sales Navigator's Team Link feature are just a few ways to convince decision makers to decide on you for their business.

All four of these social selling components combine for your LinkedIn Social Selling Index. Below is an image of an example SSI, as well as some preliminary stats which show where your score is in relation to other LinkedIn members in similar professions.

To see where your profile lands on LinkedIn's Social Selling Index, click here.

By using Sales Navigator and its tactics for success, you can easily bump your score to a higher percentile where, statistically speaking, you're much more likely to find new business on Linkedin.

LinkedIn's Social Selling Index is a useful tool that reveals the true power of social selling. Social media has forever changed the way we conduct business and with tools like Sales Navigator, we can better understand how to create meaningful business relationships online.

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