Used correctly, LinkedIn is a powerful ally in your ongoing quest to generate, manage, and close leads. As the most used B2B marketing channel, many aspects of the LinkedIn site are already designed to help you do just that. And it’s often worth the effort: a recent study by LeadFormix found that visitors coming from LinkedIn company pages spent upwards of ten minutes on that site seeking information about the company. Best of all, successfully generating leads on LinkedIn is all but guaranteed with little more than a few positive habits and a solid understanding of the native LinkedIn features built for leads.

Groups

Joining groups in LinkedIn is a great way to make valuable business connections. The trick to generate leads from groups is to join groups that are peripheral to your industry rather than only standard industry pages. By joining these groups you’re able to grow your business by expanding your reach slightly. For example, a marketer wouldn’t want to just join marketing groups, but also groups for all variety of small businesses.

Applications

The applications portion of the LinkedIn site allows you to add apps to your LinkedIn page. For example, if you wanted to integrate your blog into your LinkedIn page, there’s an app for that. There are also apps to set up polls to peer into the mind of your current and prospective customers.

Lead Management

For lead management, Excel is popular, but only practical if you’re dealing with just a few hundred potential contacts. Once you’re dealing with more substantial volumes of contacts, customer relations management (CRM) software is the way to go. While many of the commercial CRMs are designed for big business, there are a handful of independent CRM platforms worth notice for small business owners. Amongst them, Sugar CRM Open Source stands out for its price tag (free) and its considerable integration with email services.

Good Habits

If you’re trying to be proactive about generating leads through LinkedIn, there are a few good habits you should pick up. To begin with, consider picking one day out of the week to make a commitment to connect with five associates. Putting your business in the forefront of someone’s mind is a good way to remind someone they’re in need of your services. Over the next two weeks, aspire to join at least 10 LinkedIn groups. Most people only join two or three, but if you’re serious about spreading your visibility online, that means getting your name out there and into as many relevant groups as you can manage.

After you’ve joined a few groups, set out to start some new discussions in them. After starting discussions for a week, you’ll have made new friends and contacts. Whenever appropriate, be sure you link your discussion back to your site, preferably leading to services like newsletter signups or free whitepapers.

Keep Your Profile Updated

Nearly half of the 259 million LinkedIn users check with the site daily, and this relatively high frequency of use means there’s a substantial demand for up to date content. Keeping your profile up to date isn’t simply a matter of accuracy—it’s also about engagement.