When it comes to using LinkedIn for lead generation, what works best is creating what I call "context for a conversation".
If you want to see real, meaningful success on the world's largest B2B-themed professional network, you need to find ways to engage your ideal clients and prospects in 1-on-1, personalized conversations using LinkedIn invites and messages.
And LinkedIn knows that context is key in starting these new relationships, recently adding a feature to its "invite" area that helps you instantly find commonalities to spark discussions with new connections.
Inbound Invites + Engagement = Success on LinkedIn
If you've built out your LinkedIn profile in a way that helps your ideal clients and customers understand who you are and how you can help them, and if you've included the right keywords inside your profile, you're going to see a steady stream of inbound invites from people wanting to connect to you on the network.
An inbound or "Received" invitation on LinkedIn is ideal, because that means someone else has taken the time to find you on the platform, to look at your profile and subsequently send an invitation seeking to connect.
Sometimes, the inbound invites you receive will include a personal note from the person about how he or she found you and why he or she wants to connect, but more often than not, you'll just see some inbound, generic invites sitting there once you click on the "My Network" tab at the top of your LinkedIn page.
That's where LinkedIn's new invite filters come in.
LinkedIn's New Filters
LinkedIn has now added a new set of filters to the desktop version of the site to help you better manage your inbound invitations. These filters enable you to instantly sort your inbound invites based on whether someone works at the same company as you, went to the same school as you or is connected to some of the same people you are on LinkedIn.
The idea behind these filters to help you explore commonalities to include in your initial 1-on-1 messages as you accept these inbound, new invites from people wanting to connect with you on LinkedIn.
Here's are some tips on how to use the option to advantage (and note, this is currently oly available on the desktop version of LinkedIn).
First, click on "My Network" at the top of the page. That will bring up all your inbound invitations from people who want to connect with you.
Next, click "Manage All" in the top corner of that "Invitations" area, and you'll be brought to a new page which enables you to utilize the different filters (as per above screenshot)
The filters are laid out in boxes above your "Received" (or inbound) LinkedIn invites to connect. Simply click on the box you want to filter by ("All Invitations," "From Your Company," "From Your School" or "Has Mutual Connections") to sort the list of inbound invites accordingly.
You're currently only able to select one filter at a time - so you can't sort the list by people who, say, went to the same school AND have mutual connections.
The Power of Context
Let's say you see someone who went to the same school as you has just sent an invite to connect. You can now easily accept the person's invite, and then fire off a personalized, 1-on-1 message asking about his or her experience at your school as an icebreaker.
Here's a sample message you could use after accepting that type of invite to connect:
Hey [NAME] - thanks for inviting me to connect.
Curious - how did you come across my profile here on LinkedIn?
Also, I noticed you went to [SCHOOL NAME]. What years were you there?
I graduated in [YEAR] and [INSERT PERSONAL MEMORY FROM SCHOOL].
Look forward to learning more about you professionally and how I can help you out.
See how this works? You may not want to use a generic template, but you can now easily sort all your inbound invites to find icebreakers based on a few different filters, and that context for a conversation is where the magic begins to happen on LinkedIn.
The power of personalized, 1-on-1 LinkedIn messages, can be significant, and that approach is even more powerful when someone is asking you to connect to begin with.
Make sure you're taking advantage of these simple cues to spark new conversations when others are inviting you to join their networks.