A topic discussed (and even debated) in many sales department is the importance of LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI). Usually, the discussions center on how high one’s SSI is. That is a mistake.

Without a doubt, the SSI is a “scorecard” of how well a LinkedIn member is utilizing a platform. But it’s much more than that. You can consider this article as a guide to the SSI. At the same time, though, you should keep in mind that the SSI itself is a “guide” as much as—probably even more than—a scorecard.

Before I get to that, here’s my most-recent SSI:

That’s pretty good for me. I hover around an 86-88, generally speaking. I’m doing well in two of the four categories, but I need to improve a bit more in two others. And this is where the real value of the SSI comes in.

SSI: How to Use It as a Guide

Simply put, LinkedIn’s SSI is a guide on how to leverage LinkedIn to its highest and best use. It’s broken down into four sections:

  1. Establish your professional brand by updating your profile from a resume to a resource, and adding insights and content beyond your job responsibilities. If you can offer value right from your profile, establishing thought leadership and credibility as a subject matter expert, you establish a professional brand that will lead to business opportunities.
  2. Find the right people with the use of LinkedIn’s search filters, identify both new buyers you’d like to meet and those existing connections that you may have been ignoring.  In addition, viewing profiles of people you encounter via posts and content, following them or even connecting, lets LinkedIn know that you are purposefully finding and engaging with targeted connections.
  3. Engage with insights by sharing content that is relevant to your buyers.  Consider leveraging LinkedIn’s native video feature to share tips and strategies that lead buyers to your solutions. In addition, by engaging with other people’s content on a consistent basis, sharing your insights in comments and sharing their content with your connections (and adding your perspective), LinkedIn recognizes that you are adding value to your network.
  4. Build relationships is foundationally what LinkedIn is all about. Besides sharing and engaging with others’ content, sending welcome messages to new connections and mentioning others in your posts, there are many other ways to build relationships on LinkedIn. We strongly recommend asking for introductions from shared connections and connecting with multiple people inside a targeted account to help bring your SSI score up, and grow your business.

Each is worth a potential 25 points. LinkedIn crunches your activity in each of those areas, then adds up the numbers from all sections. Once that’s done, you have your SSI score. When you click on each of those sections at the LinkedIn SSI score page (as you can see in the graphic above), other helpful information pops up as well.

With mine, for example, you can see that I’m killing it at numbers one and four but can use a decent amount of improvement on numbers two and three. My SSI score—”guide,” in this case—tells me I need to work on finding the right people and engaging my audience with insights to use LinkedIn to its fullest. In other words, daily activities on the platform.

The question becomes: How can you improve your SSI score? The answer is easy. When you’re at your SSI score page, you can click on each of those four items for help. LinkedIn’s advice—instructional slideshows pop up for each item—on how to bring up your scores in each of those areas is very good and reliable, too. We train and coach on how to improve these numbers, too.

Why Improve Your SSI?

This seems to be an on-going conversation (and even argument) among those in sales who use LinkedIn. And it’s a good one to have. But first, let’s take a bit of a step back.

If you’re using LinkedIn only to network, it’s helpful to see how you can improve your skills in the “engaging with insights” and “build relationships” categories in the SSI. After all, you want to cultivate the fact that you’re an expert in your area… right? Improving those two categories alone will help you do just that.

The SSI gains more importance, though, when you’re using LinkedIn for B2B and large-ticket B2C sales (and especially social selling). LinkedIn is an essential tool in your sales toolbelt for selling, so you want to either use it as best as you can or be willing to use it much more for finding prospects, starting sales conversations, taking them through to the close, and gaining referrals long after the sale is complete. If you’re one of those people, all four categories of your SSI score should be fundamental to you.

What’s a “Good” SSI Score?

I’ve trained and coached hundreds of sales pros over the years. During that time, I’ve seen a wide variety of SSI scores. Most of the people who start from scratch with me have scored in the 20s and 30s, mainly because they haven’t used LinkedIn all that much before the sessions. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, by the way.

As they start working in LinkedIn, though, they see their scores rise; usually, by a lot. Most can pretty quickly make 70 and above while using it in conjunction with our curriculum and training. That’s great because a score of 70 or above is considered “good” by insiders at LinkedIn. (I know this because a LinkedIn “insider” told me that once.)

Anyone can make 70 or above, though. All you have to remember is that the SSI is as much of a guide to help you along your journey as it is a scorecard. Use the recommendations to your advantage.

I hope I’ve convinced you that it’s not distressing to have a “lower” score. Think of your SSI as more of a way to build guideposts along your sales journey. Then start using LinkedIn more than you have been in the past and remember that the SSI is also there to help you use LinkedIn to its highest and best potential.

If you are looking to leverage LinkedIn and social selling for sales lead generation, then let’s chat. Whether or not we decide to work together, I am confident I can offer some actionable insights that can help you find and engage your targeted market(s). If you are open, here is a link to my calendar: https://calendly.com/bobwoods/15min. Please choose a time that works best for you.

Bob Woods is Executive Vice President of Social Sales Link, a LinkedIn/social selling training and consultancy firm.