With a net worth of close to $5 billion, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman credits much of his entrepreneurial success to playing strategy games.
"Business is the systematic playing of games," he's fond of saying.
Hoffman even went so far as to name several conference rooms inside his building at LinkedIn after famous video games - Pac-Man, Tetris and Space Invaders.
Although LinkedIn was recently purchased by Microsoft for a cool $26.2 billion, Hoffman's passion for strategy-oriented games continues to play a prominent role on the world's largest social network for professionals.
The Biggest Game LinkedIn Is Playing
According to LinkedIn, "Your Social Selling Index (SSI) measures how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships."
LinkedIn assigns each user an SSI score, and you can see how your profile ranks here.
The idea behind the SSI "game" is simple - the better you perform in four key strategy zones, the higher your score climbs. (And, the more likely you are to have success selling your products and services on LinkedIn.)
With that in mind, I want to spend the rest of this post sharing my best advice on how to dominate each of the four categories of SSI - and get you more sales on LinkedIn as a result!
Establish Your Professional Brand
This one is perhaps the most important of all. It all starts with, in my opinion, creating what I call a "client-facing" LinkedIn profile.
That means throwing away the traditional, third-person "résumé" approach and instead crafting a LinkedIn profile that's all about how the products or services you provide help your ideal customers achieve their biggest business or professional goals.
In addition, I've talked in other places about the surprising truth of what to post on LinkedIn, and seen enormous success as a result of taking that unconventional approach.
Long story short, it involves blending the personal and professional elements of who you are, what you do and how it helps others achieve their goals.
People won't do business with you until they feel like they know you, and that goes beyond just knowing what products or services you provide. They also want to like you and feel like they can trust you - and that's where mixing in some of your personal life and passions with your professional offerings helps close that gap.
Find The Right People
This is where LinkedIn truly shines. Because it has detailed (and I mean detailed!) information on nearly 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, LinkedIn's internal search engine is the key that unlocks the kingdom of sales prospects and potential customers awaiting you.
When you understand how to tap into LinkedIn's powerful search features, you can instantly create targeted lists of the exact audiences you want to appeal to.
Engage with Insights
One of my favorite features about LinkedIn is the ability to instantly engage with "warm" sales leads.
Whenever someone views your profile, engages with a piece of content you share or sends you an invite or message, you have the ability to instantly begin a conversation with someone who is already "warmed up" to who you are and what you do.
Simply put, the more you pay attention and quickly respond to people who are already expressing interest in your profile and content, the easier it is to generate warm, qualified sales leads as a result.
Above all else, you must understand there is a specific psychology to selling on LinkedIn.
The biggest mistake I see people make is trying to marry everyone on the first date - putting a sales offer or a request for a "free consultation" in their LinkedIn invite or a first message, for example.
Slow down, Tiger!
Instead, practice a little professional courtship first. Get to know your prospects at a personal level. LinkedIn makes that easy, by the way - you can see from someone's profile page where he or she lives, where he or she went to school, personal interests, volunteering activities and more.
More important, as you engage with your LinkedIn connections, asking them questions about their professional needs and mixing in some personal touches (a comment about the weather where they live, for example), you sow the seeds of a friendly, back-and-forth banter that opens the door to talk business in short order.
On LinkedIn, Gamers Rule
You may or may not have grown up as a fan of the role-playing strategy games and board games that eventually birthed LinkedIn, but you'd be wise to spend some time re-framing your view of the network in that context moving forward.
If you do, it's going to become far easier to generate more business for yourself as a result!