How to spot your next potential customer on LinkedIn?

by Linda Parkinson-Hardman on May 2, 2013 · 0 comments

excellenceMost of us, at some point in time, will have been part of a conversation where someone has said ‘I really need some help with x,y or z?’ Perhaps they’ve been explicit and told you that they need to find a bouncy castle by next Sunday for their daughter’s birthday party. The list of things we can be asked to help find by our friends, family and colleagues can be quite overwhelming sometimes and I know that occasionally I feel a bit like a telephone directory, doling out the contact details of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.

However, within these conversations there is often an opportunity to be filled, either by ourselves or by someone else in business that we know. Keeping an ear out at such times can be a great source of referrals to our networking colleagues and can even result in some business coming our own way too.

Of course, when we think about these sorts of conversations, we tend to assume they will take place around the coffee machine at work or in the local cafe or pub catching up with friends; what we often forget is that these conversations happen online all around us every day as well – it’s just that we often aren’t aware of them taking place, because we aren’t listening out for them.

LinkedIn has a great section which is much underused called LinkedIn Signal, and it’s the place where all the millions of status updates we add to the network end up. Of course, many of these updates are links to articles or statements about what’s going on in our business lives; occasionally though some of them are questions asking for help around a specific problem the enquirer has to sort out.

Normally we only see the status updates from people in our network because these are the ones which appear on our home page. However, LinkedIn Signal allows us to trawl the vast database of public updates that everyone on LinkedIn has added.

It’s easy to search LinkedIn Signal, simply login to LinkedIn and if you hover over the news tab a drop down menu will appear and you’ll find it listed at the bottom. The page is split into three sections; in the first are a set of filters you can apply to the results you see in the middle section; the final section shows you the trending updates which have been commented or shared by people across the whole LinkedIn Network.

These trending links change over time as the relevance of a link is continually assessed and they are dependent on the search terms you use, for instance a search for ‘publishing’ will bring up very different trending links to a search for ‘writing’. What’s even better is that you can see exactly who’s been sharing the trending links, refining the results down by industry or company or even a region.

When you first load the LinkedIn Signal page you’ll see a list of all the latest updates from your network; you can carry on scrolling down through these just by using the Show More link at the bottom of the page.

Perhaps the best use of LinkedIn Signal though is to use it to search for status updates and profiles that contain keywords relevant to your business. Not only could this help you unearth the perfect request for help that results in a business transaction, but it’s a great way to identify other people you might want to connect with to build your network too.

‘Find out more about how to use LinkedIn effectively to build your business and gain new customers and clients with LinkedIn Made Easy: Business social networking simplified, the Amazon best seller from Linda Parkinson-Hardman.’

Linda Parkinson-Hardman
Linda is social media strategist and trainer with Internet Mentor working with clients to help develop realistic, appropriate and sustainable uses for social networking sites like Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. She is an avid networker both on-line and off-line and loves meeting people to share her knowledge and expertise with.

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