I can remember talking to a potential client about helping them use LinkedIn in their business development efforts. The reply was something like, “Oh, we’re paying LinkedIn to train us.”

Now, the last thing I want you to think is that I’m trashing LinkedIn. Without them, we’d all be in serious trouble. But I knew that while that statement bothered me, I couldn’t put my finger on why it did.

I mean, LinkedIn is LinkedIn—590 million users, bought by Microsoft for a bajillion dollars a few years back (okay, I’m being a bit dramatic, $26.2 billion… in my world that’s equal to a bajillion), and touted by the likes of Gary Vee and Kevin O’Leary as THE social media platform for business.

Then it hit me: it’s like a gym membership. Now, I don’t know all the latest in gyms and memberships or working out—one look at me and you’d know that. But I did belong to one not that long ago. I remember my wife and I signed up and they took us on a quick tour of the floor. We saw all kinds of work out equipment from the standard free weights to weight machines, treadmills, and ellipticals, as well as ancillary offerings such as tanning beds and water massage tables. But even after the tour and signing on the dotted line, we couldn’t start working out. We had to meet with another person who could show us how the machines worked, both for our safety and their liability.

Now imagine if for that appointment we showed up and there was an engineer there that had designed all the machines. She told us not only their safety features, but why they were designed the way they were, not just from a fitness perspective, but the physics behind them, and their functionality. Would you know more for having spent time with them in that meeting? You would certainly have more knowledge, but what impact would that knowledge have on your goals for joining the gym?

But what if the gym had you meet with a personal trainer? They wouldn’t take you on another tour of the gym; instead, they’d talk with you. They’d find out what your goals were for joining. Are you looking to lose weight? Build muscle? Get into overall better shape?

Their goal in meeting with you would be to ascertain what outcome you wanted from your time at the gym so they can build a gym experience around that. If you’re looking for just a cardio workout, they wouldn’t need to show you the weight machines. If you wanted to prep for a bodybuilding competition, they wouldn’t necessarily teach you how the treadmill worked.

LinkedIn trainers for business are a lot like personal trainers for fitness. Just like there are multiple ways to benefit from a gym, there are numerous ways to benefit from LinkedIn. It all depends on your goals.

Among some goals for being on LinkedIn are:

  • Business development
  • Recruiting
  • Lead generation
  • Content marketing
  • Job seeking

While LinkedIn is a great company and the best social media platform for business, especially those in the B2B sector, turning to them for training is a lot like turning to the designer of your gym equipment. They can tell you all about the software and its functionality. But a professional LinkedIn trainer can discuss your goals and either develop a plan or refer you to a trainer that can help you develop a LinkedIn use strategy that will match and meet your goals and expectations.

For example, your personal trainer at the gym would develop a plan of action for you if your goal was to lose some weight and get in better shape. This plan would tell you how often you should be at the gym, what exercises to do, what machines to use and at what weight settings. There may be some aspects of your workout that you need to complete daily and some weekly.

A LinkedIn trainer would work with you in much the same way. Let’s say your goal on LinkedIn is to be seen as a thought leader in your business sector and get more warm referrals from your LinkedIn network. Then your LinkedIn trainer may suggest both a daily routine and a weekly routine that will meet those needs. This routine would build consistency into your LinkedIn “workout” and help you not conduct “random acts of social.”

This daily & weekly checklist is a great place to start with your LinkedIn Workout:

Daily Checklist

  • Answer outstanding connection requests
  • Look at Who’s Viewed Your Profile
  • Send new connections a welcome message
  • Connect with people you’ve recently met
  • Share content
  • Engage with posts on your newsfeed

Weekly Checklist

  • Search networking partner connections for warm introductions
  • Search for 2nd degree connections for warm introductions
  • Engage targeted 1st degree connections
  • Conduct searches on ideal client profilesConduct company searches

This won’t happen right away. Just like it will take time for your workout routine in a gym to show the results, you can have a system to follow with LinkedIn, and you’ll see results build over time. The key is to stick with it, and a LinkedIn trainer can help you to do just that. The bottom line is this: you need to know why you’re on LinkedIn and then chose a LinkedIn trainer that can help you fulfill and reach your goals.

Here’s a great article by our friend Jo Saunders that will help you do just that. Not only does she include some great questions, but she also provides a list of LinkedIn trainers from around the globe.

So, remember that while technical knowledge is excellent, practical, hands-on experience when it comes to how to use LinkedIn to reach your goals will win the day!

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