Recently I have become proactive with my LinkedIn profile, building up my recommendations with people I have known for years. Moreover, I have learned quite rapidly the importance of possessing great recommendations on one’s LinkedIn profile. It can position you as a thought leader in a short period of time, almost instantly in some rare cases.

Your presence on the web is how people will see you before they meet you face-to-face. One recent study demonstrated that up to 85% of your potential clients, and even your best referrals, will visit your website or a social media profile before they meet you with in person. So any business that fatuously states, “We only depend on referrals so why even bother ourselves with our website and social media presence?” is ignorant of the fact that your online transparency is critical to your marketing, sales and public relations success.

LinkedIn is really the one social media channel you need to focus on, particularly for those who are conducting B2B sales strategies to increase their overall revenue. Due to the fact that money and credit is tight, companies are performing a more lengthy and comprehensive due diligence before committing to expenditure. Your LinkedIn recommendations provide a powerful means to transfer trust and thought leadership to your target markets. One study showed that LinkedIn was 277% more effective in developing B2B leads than Facebook and Twitter combined. Here are some conclusions from the study on LinkedIn’s prowess for building B2B leads:

1) LinkedIn leads are of higher quality.
2) Unlike other social media sites LinkedIn is exclusively focused on business development
3) The information on LinkedIn is considered more credible than Twitter and Facebook
4) LinkedIn offers sales professionals the opportunity to engage in conversations with prospects that are in need of business solutions.
5) LinkedIn gives you the ability to segment your network of connections.
6) Facebook can be hit or miss for B2B development.
7) LinkedIn’s interconnected networks of both people and organizations make your sales lead generation efforts more effective

I have found that my LinkedIn profile positioned myself as a thought leader, a “Marketing Expert”, even before I arrived for my first appointment. Your LinkedIn profile, complete and with good recommendations, can be a powerful leveraging tool in your marketing arsenal. Most everyone realizes that your great recommendations did not occur because you purchased them. In a world aware of online reviews, your potential clients have become accustomed to the prevalence and importance of online reviews. LinkedIn is no different in the B2B arena. These reviews can heavily influence a purchase or seeing their coattails. See graph below for the power of online reviews.

As an key tip, download the Cardmunch app to instantly add people to your LinkedIn network. This allows you to take a picture of someone’s business card and to then connect with them on LinkedIn. By building your network with this app, you then build more opportunity for not only more great online recommendations, but more importantly, the connections and relationships you seek to conduct great business.

Here are some LinkedIn recommendation tips:

1. Ask for them! Approach your best clients and ask them to give a fair, accurate and good review.

2. Reciprocate. In fact, preempt the whole action by giving recommendations. Be genuine and complimentary and you will find them wanting to exchange back with a similar kind word.

3. Do not ignore a request. Do give a recommendation on their LinkedIn profile if you feel compelled to do so. Explain why if you do not feel comfortable. Be tactful and polite.

4. Say Thank You! When you get a recommendation, acknowledge them as they are helping you to position yourself as a though leader and someone who can be trusted.

LinkedIn provides you and your company a powerful social media presence to connect with ideal clients to build a long-lasting and prosperous business. Conduct yourself accordingly, and see your business grow. To help you, HubSpot has published a free ebook Learning LinkedIn From the Experts: How to Build a Powerful Business Presence on LinkedIn

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