LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for salespeople—when used correctly. Most sales professionals use LinkedIn for prospecting and research, but they fail to truly spark engagement. Fortunately, Stephen Key, an author, speaker and entrepreneur, says that sales reps can get more out of LinkedIn by making a few tweaks.

Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today for Key’s three easy steps to spark engagement on LinkedIn.

1. Get your profile right. Key says it’s critical to have a killer profile on LinkedIn. That’s because the people you message often view your profile to qualify you first. By including some simple personal branding on your profile, you can positively influence these brief qualifications, which often have long-lasting results, according to Key.

Your profile lays the foundation of the perceived value of the marketing material you send and sets the tone for every interaction you have on the platform. How you present yourself either elevates the perceived value of your marketing material or ends up shooting you in the foot.

Key says that people typically only spend about 20 seconds scanning a LinkedIn profile, so you don’t need a mountain of impressive information. You need a complete profile—one that showcases you as a professional and shows that you’re in the game.

2. Make the right connections. Be sure you’re connecting with the right people. As a rule of thumb, salespeople are the quickest to respond. Marketing people are usually a little bit more helpful, but they’re not as active as sales professionals on the platform. Some presidents and CEOs take a hands-on approach to LinkedIn. However, they are usually the wrong tree to bark up, notes Key.

3. Reach out the right way. When reaching out to contacts on LinkedIn, the best strategy is to pose a simple question, according to Key. Hard linear sales pitches don’t work on LinkedIn. You must let your marketing material do the selling for you. Effective scripts for sparking engagement can be as simple as: “Hey Jane, is there someone at [company name] who takes care of your self-promotion campaigns?” Messages that are short, specific and ask a reasonable question are infinitely more likely to spark engagement and elicit a response than long-winded, self-important rants.

When you log on to LinkedIn, be sure to manage your expectations. Some people respond in minutes while others take months to reply. Remember that there will be slow days and days when you don’t have time to get back to everyone.

Whether you’re connecting on LinkedIn or in real life, relationships are about people. With the right approach and the right mindset, you can use LinkedIn to stack the deck in your favor and strengthen your business-networking endeavors.

Source: Stephen Key is an inventor, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC., a Nevada-based company that educates entrepreneurs in how to bring ideas to market.