This blog first appeared on ehotelier.com.
Are you using Linkedin, the world’s largest professional network site, as a sales tool for your hotel? Many hoteliers are using Facebook and Twitter – but, keep in mind that each social network solves different business goals and has its own unique online community. What does this mean for hoteliers? Well, this means that you can attract consumers on Facebook and Twitter, while attracting business partners and potential employees on Linkedin. Why Linkedin? Linkedin has 175 million users who all have a similar goal – making valuable professional connections.
Social selling via Linkedin is made easy through similar connections. What does social selling mean anyway? Social selling means discovering and connecting with leads, clients, and/or customers via social media. What makes Linkedin different is the professional focus and connection filters. You can network with users with similar backgrounds, employers, colleagues, clients, industry, and groups of interest.
It’s shocking how many hoteliers fail to take advantage of the countless business opportunities available via Linkedin. Other than sharing hospitality news and making connections with industry experts, you can sell your hotel on Linkedin. This upcoming year brings the perfect opportunity to begin a social selling strategy via Linkedin. Social selling will require users to optimize their Linkedin profile,create strategic alliances, search for sales opportunities, craft creative messages, build relationships, and follow-up on their connections.
6 Steps: Social sell via Linkedin for Hoteliers
Optimizing your Linkedin ProfileThe first step is easy – it does not require hoteliers to reach out to prospects. Instead, hoteliers will need to optimize their Linkedin profile using some effective keywords. The keywords should include those that your targeted prospect will most likely use when searching for someone with your service. Adding effective keywords doesn’t have to be hard – simply, add some strong keywords to the title and summary sections of your profile.
Keep in mind that you will only show up in the search results of people in your network – first, second, third level connections, and members of groups you belong to. Since you will only appear within your network, begin increasing your network. However, only make connections with relevant users as you are limited to 3000 connection invites.
Creating Strategic AlliancesThe second step will include searching for some professionals within your industry. Here you will not offer your service. Instead, you can propose a mutual benefit – you can refer business to each other. Reaching out to industry professionals who are not market competitors can result in a valuable alliance. Remember, a recommendation from an industry professional has a huge value!
Search for Sales OpportunitiesThis step requires hoteliers to get a lot more proactive! It’s time to find the prospects you want for your business. First, joining some hospitality Linkedin groups will increase your audience.
- Hotel Owners & General Managers
- Hotel Marketing & Social Media Strategies
- Hotel Industry Professionals Worldwide
- American Hotel and Lodging Association
- Hospitality Group
- HFTP Los Angeles Chapter
- HSMAI Los Angeles
- Luxury Hotel Sales & Marketing Manager’s Club
- Independent Hotel Owners
Creative MessageOnce you have found some prospects, make sure you take some time to create a message that sets you apart. Send a connection request with a well thought message. The message must address them by name, be clear and short, and set you apart from the rest! A perfect way to get noticed and make the message personal is to include a mutual Linkedin group and state the value in this connection.
If you are a paying member of Linkedin, you reach out to prospects via InMail – this get a lot more opens and responses!
Relationship BuildingStep 5 includes some relationship building! After your prospect accepts the connection invite, don’t forget about him or her. Instead, reach out to them and make sure they don’t forget who you are! Do not try to sell your prospect anything while building a relationship with him/her.
This is the step of showing how your connection is of value to him/her. An easy way to do this is to send your prospect an article or eBook that will solve their problem. A problem? Yes, a problem. We all have them and if you are both part of mutual groups, chances are you have similar problems. You can pick some industry or market problems affecting a majority of professionals. Your prospects will thank you and keep you in mind!
Follow UpDo not forget what the goal of social selling is! Selling is still the goal and you will not get there without following up. After your prospect responds to your messages, request a time to talk over the phone or in person over some coffee. If your prospect doesn’t respond after a message or two, send a final message that explains how you can solve their problem.
This isn’t easy – it will take some time and creative message to get you here. Nonetheless, the results are worth the time and effort. Social selling is the new sales tactic of 2014 and you will regret missing out on the opportunity!