It's not enough to have a LinkedIn profile and hope the leads will come to you. Sure, you can definitely get inbound leads if you've laid the proper groundwork by creating a great LinkedIn profile but the real results come from being proactive.
Your relationship building strategy is a key part of your sales funnel and if you fail here, it is extremely difficult to turn a prospect into a sale. There are a number of key things your need to do that will greatly improve your success while relationship building on LinkedIn.
1. Do Your Research
Good research is key to being successful at relationship building and is the difference between making a prospect feel like a number or a VIP. Time spent on researching potential prospects is an investment, not a time wasting activity.
There are a few tools on LinkedIn that will aid you in your research phase.
Read Their LinkedIn Profile
Obvious but skipped far too often. Not only does this give you more information about someone, it also triggers a notification for them that you viewed their profile. This can often provoke curiosity in your prospects and encourage them to check out your profile (so make sure it's compelling).
Observe LinkedIn Groups They Belong To
If someone is active in LinkedIn groups, that can be a great place to engage with them prior to sending a connection request. If you're wanting to connect with someone and don't belong to any of the groups they are connected to, consider joining one or two.
It's always a positive sign when someone is connected to multiple LinkedIn groups as it suggests they enjoy actively using the site, not just passively.
PRO TIP: You can join a maximum of 50 LinkedIn groups so try to leave 2-5 spots open at any given time for this purpose.
Check Out Their Other Social Profiles
Check out the "Contact Info" section of your prospect's profile to see if they've added links to their other social media profiles. I especially like when there is a Twitter ID because it makes it easier to build a relationship prior to sending a connection request.
Twitter and LinkedIn can make a powerful team when used right. To learn more, read How Twitter Is LinkedIn's Secret Weapon For Prospecting
Google Their Name & Check Page 2
Yes, this trick still works wonders! If you want to get a more unbiased look at your prospect, Google is your best friend. Go to the second page of the results to get a deeper look at who they are and what's being said about them online.
Check Out Their Company Website
I'm amazed at how many sales people will get to a pitch meeting without thoroughly researching the company they are meeting with. You should know as much as possible about a prospect's company prior to having an in-person or telephone conversation.
Check out their website to get a feel for their services, their goal as an organization and any potential struggles that are obvious. Look for a mission statement and read any "About" pages to learn about their company culture.
2. Use LinkedIn's Built-In Tools To Stay On Track
LinkedIn has plenty of features beyond connection requests and messaging to keep in touch with your contacts.
Organize Prospects With Tags
Have you ever used LinkedIn's built-in tagging feature? I like to use it to sort different groups of prospects and organize prospects that are at different stages of the relationship building process.
Set Follow Up Reminders
Did you know that LinkedIn has a built-in reminders system? You can easily and quickly set reminders so you never forget to follow up with a prospect as well as staying in regular contact with hot prospects. This can be done right on anyone's profile.
Use Notes To Remember Important Details
Use the Notes section to store all the relevant info about the person that you discover while doing research. This is also extremely helpful for personal details brought up in conversations. For example, I keep track of anytime someone mentions they are going on vacation, names of children and spouses, etc.
Check Your Past Communication
Been a while since you talked with that prospect? Look on their profile and see the most recent conversations you've had.
3. Move The Conversation Forward
Every communication you have with someone should move that relationship and conversation a step further. Starting with the welcome/thanks for connecting message, use a series of template messages that you customize appropriately to take the relationship offline. I'll give you a quick rundown of the process but I recommend checking out my other article, How To Create Powerful LinkedIn Lead Generation Messages, for a more in-depth guide to creating your own scripts.
Here's a simplified version of my relationship building process on LinkedIn:
- Send a personal message when connecting. GOAL: To connect with a new prospect on LinkedIn.
- Send a "welcome" message to new connections after they've accepted your invitation. GOAL: To start a dialogue.
- Follow up after one week and provide value without pitching. GOAL: Build credibility by providing value.
- Follow up 1-2 weeks later to move the conversation offline. GOAL: Move to a phone call, in-person meeting or Skype conversation. Depending on your strategy, the goal could even be to get an email subscriber conversion by sending them an eBook or similar incentive that will intrigue them.
In each message, you must never try to sell or include a pitch. It's also imperative that each message contains an element of personalization beyond their name so they don't feel like a robot is reaching out to them. In my experience, the best way to do this is by including something that they will find of value.
It should be clear in all your messages to any prospect that you have an understanding of their pain points. This will be the difference between a thankful and appreciative prospect versus annoying someone after they read your message.
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