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Emma Roberts works in sales for The Farmart, a trade directory farmers and rural businesses that has been established for 35 years

From the outside looking she initially thought that LinkedIn was a place for people to brag and self promote

Farming and LinkedIn might not be obvious bedfellows, but after our training Emma got results in 3 days from using LinkedIn and it now a big fan of the platform

We delve into the world of Farming, Rural Businesses and LinkedIn in this interview below …

Q: Farmart is a physical magazine in what we’d call a digital world. Would you like to tell our readers about Farmart and give us a potted history?
In a nutshell, the Farmart is a trade directory for farmers and rural businesses in the North West & North Wales areas. It’s been established for over 35 years now and we help people connect with and sell to our loyal readers. We promote all sorts of things from agricultural machinery to animal feed & professional services.

Q: I want to start back at the beginning from when I first met you. It was for a LinkedIn Training session for the Farmart team. You didn’t use LinkedIn before then. Be honest – what were your impressions of LinkedIn before our training? Why had you never really used it?
Being from a sales/media background lots of people I knew used LinkedIn, but from the outside looking in, it appeared to me to be a platform for people to brag about their achievements and promote themselves and I am really not a very braggy person so I was always put off using it.

Q: How did our training transform your view of LinkedIn and what was your biggest takeaway at the time?
Oh my gosh, the training totally transformed my view of it. I realised that it was actually a very valuable tool in the business world and is all about connecting with people that are in similar sectors. My biggest takeway was probably the fact that it wasn’t just individuals on there but also business pages, I find this incredibly useful.

Q: Some people are going to be reading this and thinking Farming + LinkedIn. Were you surprised at how many of your ideal customers were on LinkedIn when you started searching?

I was extremely surprised yes. There is a huge agricultural sector on LinkedIn, I found lots of people that I’ve been dealing with for years on there as well as potential new clients.

Q: There are going to be lots of people reading this who were in a similar situation to you in not using it. How long did it take after training for LinkedIn to become a part of something you do every day?
Straight away! I was keen to get going with it after the training so I literally hit the ground running and I’m pretty sure that I have been active on there every day since. Even if I don’t post every day I will make sure that I log on and have a look at what everyone else is posting about and I’ll leave comments and interact with the posts that I see.

Q: You’ve told us that “you’re getting lots of leads and enquiries from it” – how long did it take for you to get your 1st lead from LinkedIn?
Hmmm… I think it was on the 3rd day I was using it. I had an enquiry generated by something that I had posted that same day.

Q: What type of content on LinkedIn works best for you?

I think varied content works best. I like to mix it up so people don’t switch off from reading my posts, so I’ll do the odd few about things we have going on with the Farmart such as special features we are working on etc, then I might do another post about ‘marketing your business’ or ‘the benefits of regional advertising’ which are broad and anyone can relate to, not just people in the farming sector. I’ll also do the odd personal post of what I’ve been up to in my spare time just to make things a bit less formal.

Q: Some people think that you need loads of connections on LinkedIn to make it work. You only have around 350 connections. How important is relationship building with those people to you?
It’s very important. If you can build up a relationship with people on LinkedIn over time they are more likely to actively engage with you and respond to your content and hopefully buy from you or recommend you.

Q: As well as new leads you get existing clients keeping in touch with you on LinkedIn. Do you feel close to your customers now because of LinkedIn?
Most definitely. Because I cover such a wide area with what I do, I often don’t get the chance to meet some of my customers face to face much. Especially this year with Covid, it has been very difficult with no agricultural shows taking place but I think LinkedIn has helped me stay in touch with my customers on a more personal level.

Q: Do you use any other form of social media or is it just LinkedIn?

I use Facebook to interact with my customers and our Farmart advertisers. I do have an Instagram account too but that’s purely for personal use.

Q: If you had to pick 3 (non marketing) people to follow on LinkedIn who would they be and why?
That is a really, REALLY tricky question! To be honest it would probably change one week to the next for me depending on my mindset and what I’m working on!

Q: Lastly – for anyone reading this who is thinking “I’m not sure if LinkedIn is for my business” – what would you say to them?
Linkedin can only benefit your business. You’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose so why not give it a go? Surely connecting with other businesses and with potential new customers is a good thing for any business out there? Just give it a go and I think you’ll be surprised just how much of a valuable tool it can be.

*** For More Info On The Farmart ***
The Farmart magazine is a monthly buyer’s guide for farmers, agricultural business owners and those involved in rural activities.

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Alex McCann

Author Alex McCann

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