LinkedIn is just a tool. Whether it turns out to be effective or not ultimately depends on how well you use it. Just because you’ve heard or read so many success stories from other LinkedIn users doesn’t mean they just transferred their magical marketing powers to you. Fortunately, this can help you figure what and what not to do when using a professional networking site for your campaign.

1. When doing your homework…

LinkedIn is a treasure trove of information waiting to be tapped. Aside from up-to-date personal and company profiles, features like advanced search and Groups/discussion can greatly help in the way you target, segment, and personalize your campaigns. But you have to be very careful to use these the way they were meant to.

DO: Think about the information available on LinkedIn as a means to do a bit of pre-qualification on your prospects. Compare profiles to map out the decision-makers you need to contact in a company, identify potential pain points based on prospects’ status and Group participation; and join discussions to get ideas for keeping your conversations more relevant.

DON’T: Don’t make list-building your only goal in using LinkedIn. That’s a huge waste of resources. Instead, focus on using all available information there to build a more complete picture of your prospects.

LinkedIn is like this, except times a million. (Image by Soccerex)

2. When connecting with prospects…

With 238 million users, LinkedIn is akin to the largest networking event in the world. But there’s a whole art behind turning LinkedIn connections into prospects you can then get in touch with.

DO: Use the same best practices you rely on when networking face-to-face. Start with your immediate circle and work your way outward. If you’re about to connect with people not within your network, try your best to be introduced or be sure to contact them through an InMail. Once connected, prepare a series of personalized InMails to continue the engagement.

DON’T: Don’t confuse ‘connecting’ with ‘engaging’. Just because your prospect accepts your connection invitation doesn’t mean he/she’s ready to speak with anybody, marketing or sales. Don’t turn your InMail strategy into a one-step process, and don’t use InMails to spam your connections.

3. When driving awareness…

LinkedIn Groups provide opportunities for you to build a reputation that you can later leverage as you marketing gets more direct. Prospects who see you as an expert are more likely to give you their trust and take action.

DO: Become a ‘thought leader’ or an ‘influencer’ by actively participating in groups, responding to questions, and solving issues that your prospects care about. Also, get the most from Groups by connecting and engaging with decision-makers outside your network.

DON’T: Don’t use Groups for self-promotion. You’ll only end up being blocked and badly damaging your reputation in the process. Also, don’t expect quick results from this tactic. Driving awareness and building a reputation don’t happen overnight.

LinkedIn can definitely give any campaign a much-needed boost — assuming you know how and how not to use it, that is.  The key thing to remember here is that the things you do on the networking site should drive the conversations you’ll have when you start building bridges to prospects.