Having spent the past 60 months testing, tweaking and refining various approaches on how to sell B2B products and services over on LinkedIn, I've found that the world's largest social network for professionals is indeed a fertile ground for sales and marketing - if you use the right approach.

Some quick perspective on the platform: LinkedIn is closing in on 500 million members in 200 countries, and adds two new members to the network every second. It was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 for $26.2 billion, and it's recent platform overhaul includes scores of new features and upgrades.

With all that said, here are some of my biggest tips that you need to follow if you want to sell more of your products and services to potential clients you come across on the platform.

Tip 1: Create a Client-Facing Profile.

The big mistake professionals continue to make is creating a LinkedIn profile that reads like a résumé. Instead, you need to reconfigure your profile to explain to your ideal clients and customers how you solve their biggest problems via the products, services and unique value you provide.

Tip 2: Content is Currency.

Gone are the days of someone giving you his or her time and attention online (or elsewhere) just because you ask for it.

Instead, you must "buy" the time, attention and interest of your prospects online. The free content you create and share is how you "purchase" that time and attention from your target audience on LinkedIn.

Having a specific piece of content (such as a blog post, training video, etc.) that targets a niche audience and solves one of their most pressing professional problems is how you not only earn their attention, but also demonstrate your credibility and value.

Tip 3: Don't Claim. Demonstrate.

These days, anyone can claim authority online. To really win someone's trust, you must demonstrate authority. Your free content proves to people that you are the expert and that you can help them achieve their goals.

Tip 4: The (Headline) Riches are in the Niches.

The free content you create and share on LinkedIn must be hyper-focused on a targeted, niche audience, even to the point of putting their job title or industry name in the headline.

The ideal headline formula for your LinkedIn content should be:

"Target Audience Name + Your Service + Benefit They Want"

Here's an example headline: "3 Ways Chiropractors Can Leverage Online Video To Land New Patients!"

Chiropractor = Target Audience

Online Video = Your Service

New Patients = Benefit They Want

Tip 5: LinkedIn Search = Easy Prospecting

Using LinkedIn's powerful internal search engine and its advanced search filters, you'll have no trouble finding and inviting your ideal prospects to connect.

And, assuming you have a client-facing profile and personalize your engagement with each person you meet, you should be able to generate plenty of new connections with your target audience.

Now imagine your first LinkedIn message to those new connections reads like this:

"Hi [NAME] - so glad we connected here on LinkedIn!

Also, I thought you might find this helpful - it's a piece of content I created called "[insert HEADLINE]."

Here's a link to the post: [insert URL]

Hope you find it helpful and can't wait to hear your thoughts!"

See how that approach "buys" the time, interest and attention of your ideal prospects on LinkedIn?

One last word on your content: It should not be written like a sales letter or advertisement, but rather as an informative, helpful and strategic guide of how your target audience could use the service you're talking about to achieve one of the benefits they want.

Closing Thoughts

There are many more tips I can share based on what I've learned these past five years, but I can't squeeze them all into one post.

Let me leave you with this - the secret to successful sales on LinkedIn hinges on personalizing your interactions and targeting niche audiences with helpful content that solves some of their biggest problems.

Trust me: When it comes to selling on LinkedIn, the easy part is finding your ideal prospects.

The hard part is understanding how to engage and interact with those prospects, and that's where a client-facing profile, industry or niche-specific content and a personalized approach work wonders.

Published on: Mar 30, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.