Setting up a LinkedIn profile is easy. There are hundreds of companies and services coaching professionals to add a picture, complete the education section and get to 500 connections. In the past few years, financial professionals keep asking me, “What’s next?” Business owners and executives want to know the keys to generating leads and sales with this social network. LinkedIn is a treasure trove of information, and the average financial advisor using LinkedIn generates $3.6 million per year in assets.

Generating leads and sales is NOT easy. Professionals closing multimillion dollars deals through LinkedIn have a process, and they are methodical. They know how to use the service to connect with the right people at the right time. “Social selling” opens new doorways to building relationships and pipelines. Here are five ways to get started:

Consistency – Getting on LinkedIn every few months is a waste of time. Generating leads and sales with LinkedIn involves a consistent approach to Liking, Commenting and Sharing. Successful professionals are active for at least 15 – 30 minutes per day. Sales professionals will invest more time for prospecting and building a strong network. Being consistent shows people they can expect content and communication from you in their newsfeed.

Shhhh! – 3 Secret LinkedIn Tips and Tricks

Process – Effective sales is not random, and embracing LinkedIn means executing your sales process with a targeted group of prospects. Use the search function to find executives and decision makers in sales, manufacturing, human resources and more. The Scientifically Speaking LinkedIn sales process defines who we will look for, which connection requests to accept and how often we communicate. Lack of an defined process is the biggest gap sales professionals face.

LinkedIn 201: generating leads and sales

LinkedIn Success: It’s in your hands!

Referrals – 90% of C-suite executives do not respond to cold calls or emails. Cold calls work, but they are not efficient. Invest your time in finding common people between you and your ideal customer. LinkedIn InMails have never worked for us in hiring or prospecting. Recommendations for 2nd degree connections are almost 95% effective in generating leads and sales. People trust people they know. Use relationships to build trust bridges with prospects, and they will accept your connection requests.

Passive Prospecting – Establishing and monitoring Sales Preferences tells LinkedIn the geography, industry, company size, function and Seniority Level professionals want to connect with. Ideal clients, leads and prospects are listed in the News Feed and easily filtered. Send prospects an InMail or message (if they have an Open Profile). Power Users tag leads with CRM-like labels as they move through the sales funnel.

Sales Navigator – This tool is last because it is (arguably) the most important. Sales Navigator allows professionals to find their ideal client. Financial advisors looking for executives working in the automotive more than 25 years use the advanced search feature. Leads in the News Feed is a cleaner way to monitor prospects and “money in motion” for job changes and career advances. Closing one deal more than pays for the cost of this powerful resource.

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LinkedIn is a powerful tool for financial services and other industries, but they must have a process. Sales Navigator cuts through the clutter and noise of the regular News Feed to improve relationships and revenue. Millennials and other generations expect professionals to be active on social media. LinkedIn 201 is the next step.

Scientifically Speaking, of course…