- Many customer-facing employees aren’t using LinkedIn to build connections and make sales because they simply don’t know how to engage with other professionals. That’s where you, as an employer or manager, can help.
- Your customer-facing employees shouldn’t simply use LinkedIn as a digital resume. They should also engage with others. You can encourage this habit by assigning a point person to your team, an early LinkedIn adopter who can act as a mentor or coach.
- One of the biggest mistakes customer-facing employees make on LinkedIn? They don’t use it consistently. Even spending a few minutes on the platform each day, liking, and commenting on posts, is enough to help your employees build their brands.
LinkedIn certainly isn’t a new professional networking platform, but not enough companies are helping their customer-facing employees leverage it to create strong online presences that lead to more customers.
“It should be that the brand — the corporate brand — supports the personal brand of the individuals that are facing the customers because ultimately people are buying from people. They’re not buying from companies, especially in those complex, big B2B deals,” says Mike Orr, co-founder of Grapevine6, a social and digital engagement platform.
When your employees have strong LinkedIn profiles, they create industry connections and boost their credibility.
On an episode of The B2B Mix Show podcast, Mike, an expert in personal-brand building, explains how you can help your customer-facing employees improve their LinkedIn presence.
6 mistakes customer-facing employees make on LinkedIn
LinkedIn isn’t just a place to show off your resume and look for new job opportunities. It’s also a place where customer-facing employees can build industry connections and promote their brands — on both a personal and a corporate level.
However, not enough B2B professionals do this.
“I think the biggest challenge is that they don’t know what the best practices are around engaging with other people’s content and being able to produce their own content,” Mike says.
He breaks down the biggest mistakes he sees customer-facing employees making on LinkedIn and simple ways they, with the help of their employers, can leverage the platform.
Mistake No. 1: Using LinkedIn exclusively as a resume
Yes, LinkedIn is an excellent resource when searching for a new job, but that’s just one dimension of it.
“You need to think about it a little bit shifted as, ‘What can I do for you in my current role?’ rather than, ‘What can I do for you in the next role you want to give me?’” Mike says.
Step one, he explains, is to build a memorable and engaging profile. Encourage your employees to think of LinkedIn like a digital business card — one someone will actually hang onto.
You don’t just want people to click your profile, scroll through it, and click away. You want them to engage, and that’s where your employees can start sharing content, joining conversations, and positioning themselves as true industry experts.
Mistake No. 2: Only sharing first-party content
Sharing first-party content — content from your company’s marketing and sales team — on LinkedIn is great, but it’s also important to balance it with a healthy dose of third-party content that’s relevant to customers.
Exclusively sharing original content that focuses on your product “doesn’t create an authentic profile and drive up any real engagement,” Mike explains.
He says a number of his Grapevine6 clients recommend sharing 20% original content and 80% third-party content.
“They want to share third-party content that’s relevant to their buyers, to really build up their reputation and that trust as somebody who’s ‘in the know’ — that is a thought leader,” he says.
Not sure what content to share? Urge your employers to think about their customers’ problems. How can your product help solve these problems? That’s how they should position their LinkedIn content and its messaging.
“We’ve actually seen some customers … flip the ratio and share a lot more third-party content — it can actually drive even more engagement on their own content,” Mike says.
Mistake No. 3: Not being authentically ~you~
Mike received this advice from someone at his company, and he passes it along to anyone who will listen: Have a peer, a customer, and a loved one all review your LinkedIn profile and give their feedback.
OK, so the whole peer and customer review part makes sense — you want to make sure you’re speaking your customers’ language and addressing their needs… but a loved one?
“I think that’s the most important thing — is that it’s authentically you at the end of the day,” he says. “It’s not your company. It’s not just the standard marketing copy. That’s not how people build trust. They build trust with authentic people they can recognize on the other side.”
Once your employees solicit that feedback, they can make changes to their profile, so you can be sure they’re serving the needs of their customers while still being authentic individuals.
Mistake No. 4: Forcing your employees to adopt new habits immediately
If you’re a manager and you want your customer-facing employers to leverage LinkedIn, you can’t just host one training program and expect them to immediately adopt new habits.
Instead, Mike recommends tapping a small group of employers who are already using LinkedIn — the “early adopters” — and let them help mentor and coach other employers.
“If you don’t build that habit and reinforce that habit — through really looking at your peers and understanding what they’re doing and being constantly reminded — you’re not going to follow through,” Mike says. “That habit is not going to get ingrained, and you’re going to lose out in the long run.”
Instead of creating a specific training team, maybe you designate one person on each team to lead the initiative. They can be the point person and help reinforce these new habits within their team.
Mistake No. 5: Not setting benchmarks
When it comes to tracking performance, identifying benchmarks and KPIs is a smart way to set expectations and meet goals. But how can that help your employees leverage LinkedIn?
Well, one of the easiest KPIs to track is an employee’s or team’s Social Selling Index (SSI), which you’ll find on the LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This tracks social selling performance based on your personal brand, connections, engagements, and relationships.
You could also set goals around activity and engagement.
You can then use this data to not only encourage your employers to utilize the platform, but to also show off good habits. In fact, these insights can even inform strategies moving forward.
“You can actually redirect your editorial [strategy] and the content you’re creating to the most effective and engaging topics that your sales people are actually sharing with their buyers,” Mike says. “That’s a great way to close the feedback loop and actually improve the quality of your marketing.”
Mistake No. 6: Checking LinkedIn irregularly
As you can see, implementing these initiatives and getting your employees on board is a lot of work, and it’s important to remember: This takes time. But the key? Consistently use the platform.
Instead of requiring your team members to write one blog post a week to share on LinkedIn, ask them to commit just a few minutes to the platform each day to see what folks are talking about.
“Be selective on where you spend the most time,” Mike says. “It may be you’re doing very light engagement by just liking or sharing something you’ve seen.”
Mike recommends downloading the LinkedIn app to your phone. You can scroll through it when you’ve got a few extra minutes to burn.
“Don’t get overwhelmed,” he concludes. “Start building those habits you can actually keep and reinforce.”
Want to hear more ways you can empower your employers to use LinkedIn? Listen to this episode of The B2B Mix Show, and subscribe to The B2B Mix Show on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts for new episodes each Monday.