Don't make the sales pitch too early. These 10 steps will get you there.
Everyone wants to know how to turn LinkedIn connections into business. Many advisors are good at getting first-level connections, but what do you do next?
What Not to Do
Earlier I wrote an article on “How I added 100 LinkedIn Connections in 22 days.” To determine the right way to move to the next step, it’s important to learn from others what not to do.
1. The assumptive close. Some of the invitations you receive start closing in the invitation text. “We do (this.) If you are interested in having us do (this) for you, please accept my invitation to connect.” Accepting the invitation to connect implies you are agreeing to do business.
2. Start selling immediately. You accept an invitation to connect. A sales pitch immediately follows. While it aligns with the logic that LinkedIn is a business network, not a social one, it’s the equivalent of handing out your business card to everyone you meet. It sets the wrong tone.
3. Untouched by human hands. You have an automated program available through work. You visit an archive of approved articles. You select a few, then schedule future dates for posting. You are waiting for people to get back to you.
All three above examples lack the personal touch.
How to Engage With New LinkedIn Connections
I believe people do business with people they like. They do business with them because they are comfortable with them. People also enjoy doing business with people that demonstrate expertise. That requires some cultivating. Here’s what I do:
1. First thing in the morning. It’s easy to obsess over social media. I think of it like the U.S. mail. It arrives once a day. Each morning I visit messages and notifications, and catch up on everything that arrived since yesterday. It’s prospecting but it does not consume the day.
2. Thanks for connecting. When people connect, I send a short thank you. I use their first name. If I invited them, I say “thank you for accepting my invitation to connect.” If I accepted their invitation, I say “Thank you for inviting me to connect” or “thank you for connecting.” I vary the text, but if their name is James, I might ask if they prefer James or Jim. I wish them a good week or a good weekend. Sometimes people message back immediately. The human touch is obvious.
3. Follow the LinkedIn prompt. LinkedIn tries to make this easy. They often say “Start a conversation with your new connection.” Referencing that is a good reason for starting a conversation.
4. Getting to know you. A week or so later, I send a message. I type each one individually. I wrote about this earlier in “How I made LinkedIn Worth the Effort.” I use their first name. I thank them again for connecting. I explain I would like to get to know them better. More people respond than you might expect.
5. We are wine fans. The above message ends with “we are big wine fans. How about you?” It’s an icebreaker. If they are a wine fan, that’s a huge leap forward. Enthusiasts enjoy sharing their passion. It’s an easy question to answer. It might be: “I don’t drink.” or “I like wine, but I’m no expert.” Then there is, “I drink craft beer.” It’s a way to get a dialog going without getting too personal or immediately bringing up business.
6. Birthdays, work anniversaries and job changes. LinkedIn notifications prompt these daily. They even have prepared text, no thought required! I change it slightly. “Congrats on your work anniversary” becomes “Jim, congratulations on your work anniversary. 36 years is impressive.” Many people reply, because it’s so easy.
7. Take it to the next level. I like birthdays. You send best wishes. They say thanks. You message back, asking how they celebrated. These are softball questions.
8. Monthly messaging. A large number of my connections are grouped into lists based on type of business opportunities. My “editor list” are people who might buy articles. My “manager list” are people at wirehouses who might be in a position to bring me in for training. Each month I send a personal message. It addresses them by first name. It starts “each month I share a link to one of my published articles…” It’s a drip marketing strategy. The “each month” reference reminds them I’m not bombarding them with messages.
9. My Great LinkedIn Annual Contact Strategy. Each year I try messaging each of my connections personally, at the rate of a dozen a day. 2,200 connections requires 183+ days. Working on weekdays, that’s about 37 weeks. That was also explained in my article. As people get familiar with my name from seeing posts or getting a monthly message, they are more likely to message back.
10. Transitioning to business. The monthly messages don’t just share an article link. It’s a vehicle to ask questions. “Does your firm work with people who (do what I do)?” I can also ask: “Do you prefer messaging? E-mail? Another channel?” This is one strategy to bring up business. Another is to politely ask about business when our messaging back and forth becomes routine. What does that mean? They aren’t reaching out often, yet they might message back when I send an article link.
This strategy takes some time at the start of every day. There’s no dollar cost involved, only time. It’s about outreach and being responsive. Some connections won’t respond. Maybe their firm has restrictions. They sometimes say “Please use email instead.” Others will respond.
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