First of all, let’s answer a few common questions:
- Can decorators really generate business from LinkedIn? – Yes. Anyone can.
- Do you need to pay for a premium account to get business? – No.
- Can I use LinkedIn to replace my other marketing efforts? – No. Your marketing should be varied and wide ranging. LinkedIn should just be a part of it.
- Isn’t LinkedIn just for corporate / professional types? – No, LinkedIn is for everyone. There are over 500 million users on LinkedIn, and it is growing fast, so whatever you do for a living, you’ll be able to find value from LinkedIn.
The basics of LinkedIn and social media as a whole.
LinkedIn is a social network geared towards business networking.
The first important point I’ll make and something most people forget is that although it is geared towards professionals and business, it is still a ‘social’ network.
Why is this important?
Well, it means you need to treat it like a social environment. Not just a place to advertise you and your business.
I like to think of social media as a massive pub/bar.
When you arrive at a pub, you don’t walk straight in and start shouting, ‘Hello I’m Jon Mears, please buy my paint!’
If you did, nobody would engage with you (trust me!)
Think about it…
What’s the first thing a friend says to you when you arrive in a pub? Hello mate, how are you? Can I get you drink?
This is the basic premise of social networks. Change your way of thinking from what can I get out of it, to what can I learn and what can I offer people.
What happens when your mate buys you a drink? You have this overwhelming drive to buy them a drink in return.
The same goes for LinkedIn.
If you give people value, they will find a way to return the favour.
First things first.
Work out who you are trying to reach on this platform.
If you are going to build an effective strategy you need to be clear on who you are trying to catch the attention of. Develop an idea of who this person is. What is their job title? What sort of company do they work for? What sort of things are they interested in? Are you looking for companies who you can subcontract for? Or are you looking for high end professionals that enjoy golf and own several rental properties?
Make sure you are clear on this because everything you do from now on is going to be geared towards finding them, getting their attention and giving them value.
How to set up your profile:
Whilst getting your profile right is important and needs to be done, I don’t think it’s worth obsessing over. There are far more valuable things you can do on LinkedIn that I will talk about later in this article.
That said, there are a few key things to be aware of. Here’s my profile as an example:
To get anywhere on LinkedIn you must complete all the basics to a decent standard. This means a good headshot photo (not a company logo), a banner image (this can be a logo!), a headline and a completed ‘about’ section.
You also need to make sure all your contact details are available on here. This includes website address, email and phone number.
You don’t get a lot of room on your headline and people rarely expand the ‘About’ section, so you have to make it count.
Don’t waste this space with corporate rubbish such as ‘I’m motivated and driven individual who likes working alone and as part of a team’
Use this space to show people how you and your company help your customers. Explain the problems that you solve.
‘Sell the problem you solve. Not the product’
Also, make sure you write it in the first person. Don’t be that guy who has a profile written in the third person. It just makes everyone cringe.
Further down on the profile page you’ll find the CV section. Yes, it’s worth filling it in. But you don’t need to waste too much time on it. It’ll likely only ever get a glance from customers. Nobody is really bothered that you got a C in GCSE Religious studies.
Something that is important though is the activity section. Here’s mine:
When someone clicks into your activity section, they can see comments you’ve made, articles you’ve written and all of your posts. This leads me on to the next important section.
Only 4% of LinkedIn users regularly post on the platform. Which is why I said obsessing over your profile is not all that important.
If you want to stand out on LinkedIn, start putting up content.
It’ll put you ahead of 96% of all users!
How do you do this?
There are 2 ways to put up content. Firstly, you can create it yourself in the form of posts and articles. Secondly, you can engage with other people’s content.
I suggest you do both.
Often people will say ‘I’m not that creative. I can’t think of content to put up every day’
To overcome this, you need to change your mindset. Stop thinking ‘create’ start thinking ‘document’.
Documenting is far easier than creating.
If you’re a decorator, post about what you’re doing each day. Show people what it’s like. Educate people on why you use certain processes, why you use certain paints and primers. As long as you’re working, you’ll never run out of things to document. Plus, you’ll always have before and after photos to put up and inspire people!
On top of documenting, you also need to engage with people.
This means, reading their posts, then putting thoughtful comments on there and asking questions.
For 99.9% of us, (myself included) we don’t get many comments on our posts. So, do you know what this means? When I get a positive comment, I love it.
…and more importantly, I will remember who made that comment.
I’ll tell you something. I don’t always read all of my emails, but I do read all the comments on my posts. So, if you want to get the attention of someone, this is a great way!
This leads me on to one of the best things you can use LinkedIn for…
One of the keys to sales is building familiarity. In most modern businesses, decorating included, you can’t just pick up the phone and get someone to spend money with you straight away. What you can do is build familiarity so that when a potential customer comes into the buying window (i.e they want to hire a decorator) you are top of mind and they contact you first.
By consistently appearing on people’s timeline and in their comments, people will start to become familiar with you. With this familiarity comes a feeling of trust.
If you have built an online presence as a quality decorator, who really is an expert on all things painting and decorating and you have shared lots of information to back this up, when people need a decorator, they are going to think of you first. Better still, if anyone in your network has a friend that needs a decorator, they are going to recommend and tag you. Why? Because you are the expert in your field, and you are top of mind.
Consistency and perseverance.
Here’s the tough bit. The reason why only 4% of people post and the other 96% of people don’t is because people give up too quickly.
To find success on LinkedIn, you must be consistent, and you must persevere.
We’ve all dabbled with posting on social media in one way or another. Some people post once, get no engagement, and give up.
Some people post a few times and give up.
Some last a few months before giving up.
If you want to know why certain people are doing well on LinkedIn and social media in general. It’s because they work hard at it and they didn’t give up when it felt like nobody was reading their posts.
They post daily. They engage with comments daily.
And they do this consistently for long periods of time. I’m not talking weeks or months. I’m talking years.
Sure, some people (you included) might find success quite quickly. It might only take a few weeks or a month for things to get going. The key is not to get disheartened if it doesn’t.
I’ve mentioned this a few times during this article, so I think I should be clear on what ‘value’ actually means.
When you post anything on social media. Think about it from the other person’s perspective.
‘What are they getting out of this post?’
‘What value is this bringing to people?’
For me, this can be boiled down to 2 things. Everything you post should be either:
Informative or entertaining.
If it isn’t then don’t expect it to get anyone’s attention.
Quick tips on what not to post:
- Customer feedback. I’m sorry to say, but nobody really cares that Mrs Jones was really pleased with the wallpaper in her downstairs loo. Put it on your website in the testimonial section, yes. But don’t bore people with it on social media. People will scroll right past.
- Any ‘me, me, me’ posts. Avoid boasting at all costs. (We are all guilty of it, myself included, but let’s try not to do it anymore. Nobody gets any value from it)
- Long cliché stories about how you met a homeless person and gave them a chance and now they are your best employee blah blah blah. There are loads of these things on LinkedIn, 99% of them are made up and nobody likes them anymore.
Building your connections
Growing your connections on LinkedIn is actually pretty easy in comparison to other social networks.
First, you can start by syncing your email / phone and connecting to all of your friends and existing business contacts.
Next, you can search for people by things such as job title or company name.
Also, the ‘people you may know’ is very intuitive and often comes up with great suggestions.
You can also follow companies. As a decorator, this could give you a head start on your competition. Say you want to get more work on new builds. You can easily go and follow companies like Taylor Wimpey, Redrow etc and as soon as they post about new contract opportunities, you’ll be the first to know!
To build your connections organically, I would not just follow the advice above, but I would post regularly and comment on discussions relevant to your trade. This will get people to come to you!
Also, set aside time every day to send 10-15 connection requests to people you want in your network. You can do this by searching for job titles / companies or from going through the ‘people you may know section’ Remember, LinkedIn is not like facebook, you don’t have to personally know someone as a friend to connect with them. If you think you can bring them value, then send them a connection request.
NB: If you want to improve the chances of them accepting your connection request, personalise the connection message. Tell them why you want to connect and how you think you could bring value to them. Without giving them a sales pitch!
It won’t take long to build up a good sized network this way.
Important: Don’t try to connect with 100’s of people at once and make sure to periodically check if people haven’t accepted your connection request. If they haven’t accepted within a week or so, then withdraw the request. You can do this as per below screenshot: My network -> Manage invitations -> Sent
It is important you do this because if too many people decline your invitation all at once you could end up in…
Yes, this is a real thing. Essentially LinkedIn jail restricts you from using your account to its full potential and if you ignore the warnings you can be massively restricted and locked out of your account.
The function of LinkedIn jail is to stop people from spamming others. So, avoiding it is pretty easy. You just need to be sensible.
Don’t go from sending 0 connection requests a day to sending 100’s a day and don’t start sending 100’s of people sales pitches via the messaging app!
- Give more than you ask. As a rule, I would give value on 3 out of every 4 posts. You can ask for business on the other 1 out of 4.
- Reply to every comment. If someone has gone to the effort of commenting on your post, don’t ignore it. As a minimum you need to say thank you. Until you’re getting thousands of comments on every post, there is no excuse for this. Every time you do it’s a little boost for your post. Why spend all that time creating a post only to not follow up on it!?
Bonus tip: The LinkedIn algorithm loves comments of 4 words or more. So, if you want to boost posts and get more attention, start commenting 4 words or more wherever you can.
- Use LinkedIn as a place to learn, not just a place to find business. There are a lotof very clever people on LinkedIn and there is a lot of free information that can help your business. Make sure you use it as a tool for learning too.
- Don’t worry about posting ‘too much’. Sometimes people will worry about posting too much and that it might annoy people. The cold hard truth is that unfortunately most of your posts don’t get seen by everyone who is connected to you. If you post 10 times in a day, the average connection might only see a couple of them. The only people who see everything you post are you and possibly a couple of die-hard fans. And for them, there is no such thing as you posting ‘too much’.
- LinkedIn is not a replacement for cold calling, email prospecting or any other sort of marketing. It is something you should do alongside your existing activity.
- Don’t send a sales pitch via messenger as soon as someone connects with you. Believe me, as a salesman, it pains me to say this, but nobody wants to be pitched straight away. Even if it is a ‘business’ network. Once you’ve connected, give it some time before you message them directly. Be sure to engage with some of their posts first. Remember, the pub analogy. You don’t pitch someone as soon as you meet them. Buy them a (metaphorical) drink first.
- Remember your website should be the central hub to all your social media. LinkedIn is a great place to make connections, and then pull them into your website and then convert into business.
- Don’t get hung up on views and likes. Sure, it’s nice to get thousands of views and likes, but that is not what matters. A post with 10 views and 5 comments is better than a post with a thousand views and no comments. Likes and views don’t start business conversations, comments do!
In addition, remember you don’t need millions of people to see your posts, you only need a few. You just need to make sure those ‘few’ are relevant to you and your business.
- Measure your progress. LinkedIn has this awesome feature called the social selling index (SSI). Which looks like this:
Use this to see where you are now and track your progress as you start being more active.
Oh, and one more thing. Connect with me! I’m more than happy to share your posts and give you a boost!