LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index

LinkedIn is my favorite social media platform for engaging with people and growing my influence with my community. I find I can connect and engage more deeply with people on LinkedIn.

I try to reach out to at least four or five people each week to make new connections and then follow up with at least one phone conversation each week. This has helped me build a community, not just of people who might do business with me, but also of other people in the industry I work in who may be good referral partners (my friendly competitors). I keep track of the people I talk with in a spreadsheet so I can refer back to it when referring to others. It also helps me monitor the effectiveness of my efforts.

One number on LinkedIn that I monitor is the LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI). The social selling index has been around for some time. It used to be available only to those who paid for the Premium account but now anyone can access their SSI. This is an algorithm that LinkedIn came up with after analyzing a group of top performing sales leaders and the results they achieved. The result is a score between 0 and 100. It was created by LinkedIn as a way for people using LinkedIn for sales to see how they rated. Of course most of my clients aren’t using LinkedIn for sales; but the rating can still indicate how well they are utilizing LinkedIn to establish their brand and build relationships. It’s something I track monthly for my clients. LinkedIn Social Selling Index screenshot

A couple of months ago I decided to take a more proactive approach to see if I could improve my SSI score. After just a few weeks I was able to increase that score from 64 to 71. That score alone doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s important to note also where you are in your industry and network.

The formula for the LinkedIn SSI score is based on the 4 components of social selling, as defined by LinkedIn:

  1. Establish your professional brand
  2. Find the right people
  3. Engage with insights
  4. Build relationships

Let’s discuss each of those in a bit more detail and what you can do to increase your SSI score.

Establish your professional brand.

Be sure your profile is 100% complete with a profile photo (headshot), headline, and complete information that includes your keywords. When filling in your information, be sure to keep your customer in mind so they will want to contact you based on what you’ve provided. Include examples of your work in the Featured section – videos, SlideShare presentations, PDFs. You can boost your SSI score even more by publishing articles on LinkedIn and endorsing others. Also give and ask for Recommendations. All of this will help you become a thought-leader in your industry.

Find the right people.

I search for people in groups and through mutual connections. You can ask a first-degree connection for an introduction to a second or third-degree connection. Of course using LinkedIn’s paid Sales Navigator will increase the chances of this score being higher. If you use Sales Navigator you can unlock more of those who have viewed your profile and then potentially connect with them and their network. If you don’t pay for Sales Navigator, you are limited in what you see when you click on Who viewed your profile. For most of my clients who are not directly in sales, I don’t believe there’s a need to pay for Sales Navigator.

Engage with insights.

Do this by sharing conversation-worthy updates. Post content relevant to prospects and become a trusted source of insight. Participate in groups with thoughtful comments, questions, and content. Comment on other people’s articles and posts.

Build relationships.

Strengthen your network by finding and establishing trust with decision makers. When you do invite people to connect, be sure to send a personalized note explaining briefly why you’d like to connect. Even a simple note such as, “We’re both in the ‘XYZ’ group here on LinkedIn and I’d like to connect to add you to my professional network.” Once you’ve connected, develop the relationship. Provide information they can use. Invite them to chat by phone or Zoom, assuring them it’s not a sales call. Here’s how I do that.

I have an interesting story to tell about using LinkedIn. Someone named Joe connected with me on LinkedIn and booked a complimentary phone consultation so I could answer some questions he had about using social media. Later he messaged me on LinkedIn because he needed someone in my area to do some handyman work on a property he owns in the area (he lives out of state). I was glad to send him the name and number of someone I know to help him out. For me this was the perfect example of using LinkedIn to engage and build community. Now Joe hasn’t paid me any money. He hasn’t become a client. But he was in need of a connection that I was able to provide. If he ever does need my services, or know someone who does, who do you think he’ll call? He did provide a wonderful review on my Facebook page as a result of the initial complimentary phone consultation we had.

Some people say consistently spend 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn and you’ll see the SSI score improve. Those same people say, “remember, it’s just a number.” I do check mine usually once a month and watch for the number to remain stable and rise. If it goes down, I don’t worry about it. But I do see why that may be the case so I can see were to focus my efforts to bring the score back up.

And, as one of my clients said, “if you think it’s just a tool to stimulate people to buy Sales Navigator, then fuggedaboudit!” (That’s how they tawk in the Bronx.) Can you tell she’s from New York?

Tell Me About SEO

Everyone wants to know what they can do so that their website gets found in a web search. “Tell me about SEO,” asks a client. “Do I have to pay for my website to rank high in a Google search?”

A prospect named Joe booked a complimentary consultation appointment with me and emailed, “When I found you for our consultation appointment, was that a result of your social media prowess—or did/do you do some paid SEO? I am trying to learn whether it’s necessary to pay for SEO, or if a sound social media strategy can get the job done without paid SEO—or is it necessary to have a mix of both? Any insight appreciated.”

Of course my social media ‘prowess’ contributes to people finding me in an internet search. I use a ‘sound social media strategy’ on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to direct my audience back to my website. But I have NEVER paid for SEO.

That’s right—you don’t have to pay a lot of money for SEO. Your website will be found in a search when you do the right things. Be aware, though, that it will take time. Don’t expect that 30 days after you’ve launched your brand new site that it’s now going to come up at the top of a search—even if you’ve done everything right. It takes time for the search engines to index and rank your site. So be patient. I suggest that it takes a minimum of 90 days to see results with organic SEO efforts.

What do I mean by organic? Organic SEO at my website includes these three strategies:

  1. Keywords. What keywords would someone trying to find your website use in an online search? Make a list of those and use them often in your website copy and blog posts. A note of caution: don’t stuff your copy with the keywords just to try to rank higher. Use them where it’s appropriate and makes sense. There are tools you can find online to do keyword research. Here are two: Wordtracker and WordStream.
  2. Links. You want links back to your website. One way I do this is by posting on social media tidbits from blog posts with a link to that post—driving traffic back to my site. Another way is by writing guest posts on other people’s sites with a link in my bio back to my website. Here’s an example. You can also link to another page at your own website in one of your blog posts. For example, right here I’m inviting you to contact me for a free 15-minute social media consultant and linking to my page to learn more about it.
  3. Content. This is the best organic SEO strategy. Write fresh content on your website on a regular basis, using the keywords you’ve researched. Search engines rank sites higher when they have fresh content. Write at your blog regularly and share that content on all your social media platforms.

There is one more thing I do for SEO. I use Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. They do have a Premium version for $89/year. But I just use the free version. It helps remind me to use the right keywords for SEO purposes. The image in this post is a screenshot of the analysis results of a blog post before being optimized completely for SEO.SEO screenshot

If you’re not using WordPress and use some other site builder such as Squarespace or Wix, the strategies I use apply—keywords, links, and content. Those site builders also have Premium SEO you can pay for, but I don’t believe it’s necessary for most people.

Does organic SEO work? It has for me! I always ask people when they contact me how they found me. The last three people said they did a Google search and found me. I always ask what they typed in to the search to find me so I know which keywords are getting the best results.

It really made my day when Joe, mentioned earlier, posted this review on my Facebook page. “I would like to thank Sue Canfield for sharing her expertise of social media marketing best practices with me. What I like most about Sue is she listens to get to know your unique situation and answers questions in a logical and practical manner that is easily understandable. The fact she has done it all organically speaks for itself! Thank you Sue!”

Yes, organic SEO does work!

Important Blogging Tips

internetNearly 40% of U.S. companies use a blog for marketing purposes. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Research shows that businesses that blog 4 to 5 times a week get over twice the traffic than those that blog less than four times per month. So start writing!
  • Be sure to include keywords relevant to your industry.
  • Optimize your titles by including those relevant keywords.
  • Write about solutions to problems your clients face.
  • Use your blog to earn your client’s trust.
  • Don’t forget the Call to Action!

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