5 LinkedIn Tips for Consultants

LinkedIn is a social media platform that’s been created specifically for business people to connect and use as a forum for sharing ideas, prospecting, and finding job seekers. According recent statistics, LinkedIn has 500 million users, with more being added every second.

And, it’s estimated that 40% are active on the site every day. This is one of the reasons that consultants should be taking advantage of LinkedIn, as it’s the perfect place to make sure people you connect with know what you can offer them.

So, the key for consultants is maximizing LinkedIn properly. Below are 5 steps that consultants can utilize to help generate leads and create a positive and strong reputation for their business:

Strengthen Your Headline

Take a look at the line of words under your name — what does it say about you? This is what most people see when doing a search and reviewing profiles, even if they don’t click  into your profile. Use as few words as possible to describe your value.  Do you help companies create a business strategy? Do you advise organizations on how to implement better operations?

This Hubspot post has tips and examples of good headlines that you can use as inspiration.

Tell Your Story

Once you’ve created a strong headline, it’s time to take a look at the summary. This is a chance to tell your story and provide people with information about what it’s like to work with you. A summary can be several paragraphs, but make sure to pay special attention to the first 35 words. The first 35 words are what people see before they click the ‘see more’ button.

“If you have any articles, SlideShares, or blog posts you’re proud of, upload them as media,” says Melissa Williams, a content marketing specialist at Yesware. Her blog post provides tips for making your summary strong and impactful.

Use LinkedIn Publishing

If you don’t have your own content to share yet, you can utilize LinkedIn Publishing. LinkedIn Publishing lets you write and post articles. You can choose subjects that will be interesting to your audience and will position you as an expert. You can also use their publishing platform to repost articles from your own website. “Posting on LinkedIn Publishing gives you exposure to a different audience. And, you squeeze more juice out of your content,” says Michelle Messenger Garrett, a writer and PR consultant. Tip: always include an image when you upload content.

Dive into LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn groups is a great way to connect with people and build your credibility. Seek out groups that you find interesting and can contribute to. Being a part of groups also makes sure that you’re in the loop with current news in your industry. Don’t forget to like, comment, and share posts that you find important or interesting. These posts will also show up on your profile and add to your activity in people’s feeds.

Share Good News

Besides sharing your own content and engaging with people, you can use LinkedIn to let your network know what you’re doing and creating. Awards, speaking engagements, and even a volunteer work would all make good LinkedIn announcements. Plus, it shows how well rounded you are.

LinkedIn can be overwhelming to a new user, but don’t let it intimidate you. There are so many ways to use it as a tool to help growth your network and connect with other professionals and prospects. With a little effort, your profile will act as a billboard and start funneling leads into your pipeline.

Do you want to build a huge list? Here’s how you do it.

If you put time and effort into creating valuable content, it makes sense that you want to have an audience to share it with. Having a strong and quality list allows you to cast a big net every time you send an email.

But growing your list, and maintaining that growth, is not something that happens without getting your hands dirty. You need to put in the time — just as you do with content creation — if you want to build a list with quality subscribers.

There are a few reasons why it’s important to have a strong email list:

  • It’s something you own
  • Having access to someone’s inbox is an easier way to get their attention over social media
  • It’s a cheap and proven way to stay in front of leads while also building a following
  • You can organize lists so that it’s easy and simple to send the right kind of messages to the right audience

Those are just a few of the many reasons why email lists are beneficial. In a nutshell, it’s a list of people who want to receive your content. They tend to be loyal, and a loyal foundation of readers can go a long way in building your brand.

Here are 10 proven methods of growing and maintaining an email list:

  1. Make it simple to sign up: allow interested people to sign up for your list easily, with a basic form that’s available on all pages of your site.
  2. Offer something valuable: give them the information they want as well as additional resources they didn’t realize they needed.
  3. Personalize the experience: send a welcome email to new subscribers and code the email so that it uses their name. Let them know you’re excited to have them and look forward to being able to communicate.
  4. Use CTA’s: you can use a call-to-action at the end of blog posts, social media media, and more to remind people that they can continue to enjoy your content by signing up.
  5. Allow people to Opt-Out: nothing is more frustrating than wanting to unsubscribe from a list but not being able to. Or, having to take many steps to do it. Allow people to leave if they want to, and make sure it’s an simple experience.
  6. Make it easy to share your emails: include social sharing buttons and ‘email to a friend’ button in your email templates, so that readers can share without putting in too much work.
  7. Add a CTA to your Facebook Business Page:  let the CTA button take interested followers to a place where they can subscribe.
  8. Test different copy: also called a split test, use different versions of content to see what generates the most subscribers. You can test different layouts and graphics as well.
  9. Guest blog: if you provide content to other sites and outlets, always include a CTA that will lead people to subscribe. Chances are, if they liked reading your article, they will be interested in keeping up with you.
  10. Collect emails: it’s a bit old school, but collect emails from events, trade shows, joint marketing efforts, etc. As long as you collect the email and interested parties know they are agreeing to be added to a list, this a good way to get people you meet offline to become online connects.

So, go forth and list build! It doesn’t happen overnight but it’s worth the effort you put in. You never know when someone will be ready to reach out and utilize your services, so stay top of mind and in their inbox!

Simple Ways to Promote Your Webinar

So you’ve created and planned a webinar around a topic that you feel passionate about. You might want to pat yourself on the back, but there is still some work ahead of you.  Now it’s time to get the word out and have people show up. Without the proper marketing, you won’t achieve the audience you deserve.

Step one is to get people to register for your webinar, and that means you’ll need a place for them to go. Before you start promoting the webinar, create an optimized landing page with all the necessary points, including:

  • Information about what the webinar will be about and what participants can expect to learn
  • Date and time of the webinar
  • Who will be presenting and speaking
  • A form where people can register

Once your landing page is setup, you have to make ensure the rest of the funnel flows smoothly.

What should happen after they register? Well, it’s mostly up to you, but having registrants receive a thank you page confirming that they’ve successfully registered for their spot is a recommended next step. And, if you’re plans can honor a little flexibility, ask if they have any questions that they would like you to cover. Besides taking them to a thank you page, make sure you also send a confirmation email with the time, date, and link to join the webinar. You want to make it as easy as possible for registrants to remember the information.

Below are some other ways to market your webinar once you have your landing page in place.

  1. Promote it on a Hello Bar: A Hello Bar has been proven to be very successful in increasing lead generation. It usually enters your site across the top of the screen and spans the full width of your browser. Depending on the setup, you can even put a sentence or two with a link or CTA to the page you want the prospect to visit. It’s highly recommended to test this out.
  2. Webinar Listing Sites: There are webinar listing sites that let people promote their webinar. Some examples are tellonline.org and webinarbase.com. They only require a few steps to get your webinar up on their sites for free.
  3. Email Signature Promotion: This is super easy and you should do it anytime you are promoting an event.  Add your webinar landing page URL right into your email signature. If you email a lot on a daily basis (which we’re assuming you do), this is a great way to spread the word.
  4. Write a Blog Article: You’re reading one now, so you know the power first hand. Write a blog article about your webinar topic, and provide just enough information to get people interested. Include a sign up form on the page, or link them to your landing page. Blog articles are easily shareable on social media too.

Here are a few more ideas to successfully promote your webinar and gain a larger audience:

  • Attach a Lead Magnet
  • Start an Email Campaign
  • Build Interest on Social Media
  • Use the Help of an Influencer
  • Use Paid Ads

You took the time to create a webinar in an effort to teach people and build your reputation as an expert, so make sure you put in the time to market it properly.

With a little focus your podcast might actually work

“I want to start a podcast”

I hear that a lot. I suppose it makes sense. As far a content goes, podcasting is second only to blogging as a democratic medium for distribution. Anyone with a half decent smartphone and the ability to ramble for a few minutes can declare themselves a podcaster and claim a certain level credibility – even if they are only talking to themselves.

The truth is most podcasts you find on your favorite app have very few listeners and often fewer episodes.

Like blogging it’s very easy to start a podcast. The hard part is keeping it going once it stops being the shiny new thing and becomes an obligation. That’s especially true if you don’t get a huge following right away and find yourself howling into the digital wind.

For every successful podcast there are thousands that simply shrivel up and die on the vine. But with a little planning you might actually beat the odds and find an audience who cares enough to subscribe – and maybe even buy some of your products and services.  

Successful podcasters know who their ideal audience is, have a goal for what they want that audience to do, and have guests that attract that audience.

2018 Podcast Statistics
source: podcastinsights.com 

I was recently speaking to a client who has a podcast with almost 50 episodes. He’s committed.

But after doing the podcasts for over a year, he is struggling to find a reason to continue.

He’d been given advice that he should focus on finding “influencers” with large followings as guests – even if those influencers had nothing to do with his key messaging and their followers were unlikely to help him with his business.

In short he was given a strategy to boost numbers and not revenue.

If you want to start a podcast – that’s awesome. But as a professional, you need to look at the business case for spending your time creating something that’s going to take a while to find an audience.

Define your audience

If you’ve read any of my previous articles you’ll know how much value I put on defining who your ideal audience is. It’s important when you’re writing a blog and it’s important if you are deciding to start a podcast. Who do you want to listen? Obviously “everyone” is not the right answer.

Ideally you want to attract the audience that’s most likely to push your business forward. There’s no point in having a million punters who won’t ever make you a dime. So define who it is you NEED to be listening. Who are the people who are going to hire you or buy your products and services?

What are you selling?

Next you need to have a plan for what you want these “ideal clients” to do. Do you want them to hire you to speak? Buy your books? Bring you in as a consultant? Whatever it is, this is important.

When starting a podcast most folks will put a significant amount of effort into creating intros and outros. If only that put that much effort into their calls to action. For most the only mention of their own products of services comes at the end of the episode.

But if you listen to podcasts like Slate’s Political Gabfest, The Gist or others produced by major league producers, you’ll find that their sponsors are promoted within the episode. I particularly like how on  Political Gabfest David Plotz, the host/moderator, drops ads in mid-discussion.

If you’re going to start a podcast to drive your business, you need to think of yourself as if you were a  sponsor and put as much time into your promo spots as you put into those intros and outros. Do this and your podcast is already a more effective business tool.

Why will anyone listen?

Are you  still with me? We’ve defined an audience and also defined what we want that audience to do for us through our ads.

The last thing we need to figure out what  guests will attract the audience you want to reach. Remember that client with the 50 episodes under his belt? He was committed but he didn’t have the right guests to attract the clients he needed to make it worth his while. Random guests = no return.

Instead of focusing on “influencers” he is changing his focus to bring in guests who his ideal audience wants to hear.

When all is said and done, there are plenty of reasons not to start a podcast as a money making venture. But if you put a little thought into things you might find that your podcast is actually a business driver for you in other ways. 

You probably don’t need a brand new website

Remember that time you didn’t like the look of your foyer and decided to knock down your entire house and rebuild it from scratch? Of course you don’t because that would have been a ridiculous over-response to a relatively small problem.

What you probably did was slap on a bit of paint or maybe add a few new features with a minor renovation.

Tearing down the whole structure is one of the last things any of us would do – and only if there were chronic problems that would make it financially ruinous to keep it standing over the long run.  

Paint, Renovate or Rebuild

Your website is the online home for your business. And for most potential clients your site will be the very first interaction they have with you. If it’s dusty and outdated they’ll quickly hop over to a competitor. You need to keep it fresh and up-to-date so visitors see the best version of you.

Fortunately if you have a website with “good bones” you can generally work with what you have and forgo expensive rebuilds every couple of years. That’s right, most businesses can probably get away with some paint and a few functional upgrades that won’t require a second mortgage and definitely not a demolition team blowing everything up .

At this point I should say that my idea of “good bones” is WordPress. Today many businesses are using WordPress to run their websites. And the dirty little secret of most agencies is that WordPress is easier to paint and renovate than it is to tear down and rebuild.

But a lot of marketers and agencies have a business model built on the “knock it down and rebuild from scratch” approach.

If you have a WordPress site that may be overkill – especially when a new theme and some copy tweaks will do the trick.

A little digital paint goes a long way

When making a business case for WordPress I always tell clients that one the best reasons to embrace the platform is how easy it is to change the look and feel. And with millions of different theme templates available for free and for purchase, it really is the equivalent of slapping a new coat of paint or adding a facade to improve your curb appeal.

If you’re looking for a new theme, my go-to lately is the Enfold Theme from Kreisi. It’s clean, simple to use and can adopt virtually any look and feel imaginable.

Add in a few new plugins for functionality and this is the most cost effective update you can possibly have.

The best part is, like painting, you can figure out most of this yourself. Of course you’ll always get a better result if you hire a pro.

Renovation leads to innovation

With an online renovation, you’re doing everything above. But you’re also doing a deeper dive into content and business modeling.

This involves going through your pages to make sure your marketing message is consistent and compelling. It also means reviewing your page structures and looking at competitor sites for inspiration.  

This takes more time – but like adding an addition to your home – the value added is incredible.

The best part is that most of this can be done by yourself or in collaboration with a copywriter – like myself.

Not every website can be saved

Not every site can be saved. I once had a client who maintained a custom html site with over 1000 pages on it. This was a tear-down and rebuild situation from the get go.

It would have cost more to custom build the functionality to replicate what a platform like WordPress does out of the box than it was to copy and paste the existing content into a new WordPress installation and create redirects from the old pages.

For me situations where you would need to go down this road for an existing WordPress site are few and far between. In most cases a new theme and some content tweaks will do the job just fine.

Cost to build vs reno and paint

Many vendors too often see every web job as a tear-down when they should really be looking at less expensive options for their clients.  

It’s certainly a business model. But it’s a model that was more appropriate before sites driven by WordPress became ubiquitous.

Every project is different. But an existing WordPress site with good bones doesn’t always need a bulldozer to bring it up to speed.

If you’re curious about what it would take to improve how your site functions book a 15 minute consultation and I’ll be happy to tell you.

Find your superpower and drive your business forward

What’s your superpower? If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, good fortune and connections will only take you so far.

At some point your business is going to float or sink because you are better at doing something than someone else.

Maybe it’s something really complicated. But it doesn’t have to be.

I’m a writer. I’ve paid my bills for over 25yrs hacking out content as an employee and then as a marketing guy with his own little agency.

But my superpower isn’t writing. Let’s face it, there are better writers reading this piece right now groaning about how I’ve shot through 5 paragraphs without actually getting to a point.  

My superpower is using my skill as a writer to articulate clients’ value propositions in a way that speaks to their ideal clients.

I don’t just take what they say and clean it up. I go deeper to understand who it is they need to connect with and then make their content relatable to the people who are most likely to hire them.

If I’m going to be really honest I didn’t come by this power because of a radioactive spider bite. But like Peter Parker it did start in high school.  In fact I can trace it back to my experience in drama class.

As a young actor I embraced the Stanislavski Method. If you’re unfamiliar with the term it requires an actor to portray emotions on stage by imagining themselves in the same emotional state as their character.

It was useful on the stage then and it’s useful on the page now.

When I engage with a client I use the same device that got me through Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town to put myself in the same head space of the people my clients need to reach and impress.

Over the last 24 months I’ve used this superpower to expand my business and deliver strategic business coaching to independent consultants, trainers and speakers.

I suppose the only real surprise is why it took me so long to see the opportunities right in front of me. I’m a writer and I’ve always been fascinated with other people’s business models. In fact I’ve always done this kind of work with friends in the “the biz.” It’s just that up until now, I didn’t charge for it.

As something that came so easily to me, I didn’t recognize my own value. My own superpower.

So helping fellow business owners articulate a stronger value proposition that resonates with their ideal clients is really a no-brainer service I should have been offering for years.

I show clients how to see their business from the perspective of the people they need to hire them. Once they understand this everything that needs doing becomes much clearer.

The next step is rewriting content and marketing material to align with this new perspective through a series of calls.

Then, because I’m also a tinkerer, I go in and update their websites myself.

I love what I do. It’s always interesting to engage with experts and show them how to market themselves better. But it’s absolutely thrilling when it becomes clear that “they get it.”

What’s your superpower? What special trick do you have that you take for granted but is actually a valuable, marketable skill? How can you leverage this into future business opportunities?

As the year ends, I’m looking forward to doing much more of this type of work. I’d love to talk to you about how this hybrid service of coaching/doing could help your business break big in 2019.

Book a complimentary 15 minutes and let’s talk about what you need.

What are you worth to your business partners?

No business is an island. We all have partners.

And whether your partnerships fall under some formal arrangement or are something looser there has to be something in it for everyone.

Partnerships don’t always involve money. Networking partners introduce you to potential clients or help you expand your reach in exchange for you doing the same for them.

If you constantly come up short, your networking partners will find someone else to fill your role.

But what about partners where a fiscal return is expected?

One of my more popular articles talks about How Professional Speakers Can Make $10,000 a gig. In essence speakers make $10,000 when they convince clients to pay them $10,000.

It’s all about value. Tell a good story and connect it to a return on investment that far exceeds the cost to bring you in.

With business partnerships we all bring a certain value to the table that our partners use to judge how hard they are going to push to make us successful.

If I do some subcontracting for an agency and I constantly knock the socks off their clients, I’m going to get a lot more work from them because they can charge a premium to have me on their projects.

If on the other hand I deliver work that is “fine” or “good” they will always be open to a better options that will help them cement their reputation for excellence and allow them to charge more.   

When there is no perceived value in a relationship in either the short or long term, the higher value partner isn’t going to put too much work into keeping it alive because there is no return on their investment.

What got me thinking about this was a discussion I had with a client a while back. Her fees seemed unusually low considering her experience and track record of success.

She also wasn’t bringing in the business like she used to.

It was a bit of a head scratcher.

From my end there was definitely some marketing polish required on her website and social media. That was all technical. It required some writing and a little business (re)modelling.

But how was she going to show her partners that she was valuable to them? In her case the partners were speakers bureaus. And at $3500, she was priced like a million other speakers in her niche.

What came next was a bit of a leap. I told her to triple her speaking fee.

“But I can’t get anyone to hire me at $3500! Who’s going to hire me at $10500?”

We had already done the work and clearly articulated her value proposition in her marketing material. But we needed partners to fight for her in the bureau world. And those partners are in the business of making money.

According to Speakers Gold a Speaker Bureau’s cut can be anywhere from 20%-35% of the speakers fee.

My thinking was simple. I imagined myself as the owner of a speakers bureau. If I was going to get a commission based on what my speakers charge, I’d fight harder to place the ones who were the most professional, delivered exceptional returns for my clients AND were going to make me more money.

By tripling her fee she is actually making her relationship with bureau partners more valuable because she is guaranteed to deliver the goods and she was also going to help them increase their revenue. 

It really is simple math.

Your business is built on the value you bring to all your partners. When you maximize your value to them, they’ll move mountains to make sure you’re successful.

Why you are wasting your time on social media

If you’re a consultant, trainer or speaker you’ve probably been told over and over again that to be successful you need to be very active on social media.

On the surface it sounds like good advice and social media can be an important part of your marketing strategy. It can certainly help you reach more people and get your message out to audiences who may never have heard of you. But let me be perfectly clear – you can build a business without constantly feeding an Instagram account with selfies.

Social media marketing is not a one-size fits all panacea for business success. But that’s the way it’s pitched to a lot of business owners.

Here’s what generally happens. A small business owner attends a conference or a seminar on social media and the speaker runs through a list of all the top sites and all the billions of people who are using them.

So you leave either inspired or frightened. Inspired about what social media can do to help you grow your brand or frightened by the amount of work it’s going to take to get you a million followers.

I’m here to confirm what your gut is already telling you. That’s a load of crap.

A lot of business owners are wasting their time on social media. Instead of concentrating on creating great content for the platforms where they’re most likely to connect with clients, they end up filling a Hootsuite queue with quotes and inane pictures that have nothing to do with their business and will never resonate with their prospects.

With great content and a sellable message you should be booking conferences, not posting pictures. Click To Tweet

I recently had a client who was signed up for everything by her social media consultant; Pinterest, Instagram, Tumbler, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. So instead of working on growing her speaking business, she was spending all her time trying to grow her social media followers.

If you have great content and a sellable message you should be booking conferences, not posting pictures.

That’s not to say social media in itself is a waste. But you do have to focus on the channels that are most likely to get you in front of the folks who are likely to write you checks for $10,000 or more.

And those folks are probably not on Instagram.

What about Facebook?

Yes, Facebook is huge and your clients are probably on it. But are the on it to be sold on your services or are they on it to keep connected to friends and family? I use Facebook as a hub for some content marketing. I have my blog and my social recycling plugins tied to it to distribute content automatically. I don’t pay too much attention to it. But it at least looks very active if a prospective client drops by when researching my credentials. I also use it for targeted advertising.

There was once a time when a Facebook business page could drive a lot of organic traffic back to your website – as all your followers would be likely to see your posts in their feed. But that changed with an algorithm update that deprecated business content distribution.

Now, if you want to get a piece of content noticed, you need to boost the post with an ad targeting your ideal client profile. That is the trend as social media companies increasingly monetize their data. It’s a pay to play world. So just get used to it.

What I tell my clients – who are primarily consultants, speakers, and sales trainers – is that they should play in the same social media sandbox  their clients are playing in. And for the most part that means LinkedIn and Twitter.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 4.23.52 PM

I’m not saying that all the other social media are a waste of time. But it’s very easy to make your time on them very unproductive. Tackle social media with  a strategy geared toward results and the time you save – not posting quotes – can be spent following up on real leads for proper jobs.

 

Your blog content is a business driver – not a cost

If you run a small business or consultancy you need think strategically about your website content. Even today it’s not hard to find business sites that are the same brochure-ware type setups that were popular 20 years ago. Obviously a lot has changed since Bill Clinton was president. So why haven’t these sites?

There are generally two arguments I hear when I bring up content creation. The first is that the site owner doesn’t have time. The second is that paying someone to write it isn’t cost effective.

Saying you don’t have time to write a blog is like saying you don’t have time to exercise – you have the time, it’s just that you’ve chosen to prioritize something else.

But let’s say you’re not about to change your priorities. What about paying someone to create original content for your website? Let’s say you pay a writer $100 a week to write an original piece of content that is targeted at your ideal clients. Does that sound like a good deal?

I’d argue it is.

In fact I’d suggest that any content you publish is actually a driver of business growth –  without any real cost at all – even if you’re paying for it initially. Blogging is an investment that will eventually show more substantial returns than any paid advertising you’re likely to do.

The traditional methods of lead generation are simply not as time or cost-effective as blogging. B2B marketers that use blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not. (source)

Another factor to consider is that websites with a blog generally have 434% more indexed pages on Google. (source). And more indexed pages on the Big G means more traffic and more opportunities to make the case for hiring you.

Content is more valuable than you think it is

Creating evergreen content that lives on the internet for months or years is amortised over time – with it’s cost going down every time it comes up in a search, is read by a prospect or is repurposed and shared on social media.

One of the big mistakes is simply writing a blog, publishing it to your site and then forgetting all about it.

Obviously if that’s your strategy, it’s not going to show you much of a return. But if that content is consistently re-shared on social media using a tool like Revive Old Posts, it can constantly find new audiences and bring them back to your site.

I have blog articles that I wrote 2 or three years ago that are still driving traffic to my site.

I write my own blog. So my investment is time. But even If I paid $100 to have someone else create something new and compelling and it drove 1 new prospect to my site every couple of days then, measured against cost per eyeballs, that investment would quickly drop to nearly nothing in a little over a year.

Writing a blog consistently also signals that the lights are still on at your business. I was recently speaking to a prospective client and discovered that their last blog post went up in 2012.

With so many businesses coming and going, having content that is current and relevant shows your prospective buyers that you’re still in business. Remember that most people do their research online before making a buying decision. So you are competing against others in your space who are already creating content on a regular basis.

In a study 47% of buyers viewed between 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a company. (Demand Gen Report, 2016) So if you don’t have content to read you’re already at a disadvantage.

So stop thinking about your blog as a cost or waste of time. Think of it as an investment that will show you returns well beyond your initial outlay and make a list of possible topics today.

You need to actually CONNECT on LinkedIn to find clients

I once made an analogy that some people collect LinkedIn connections like baseball cards. Regardless of value it’s more important for them to have 25000 or more people in their network, than it is to have the right people.

I’ve always thought this was a pointless exercise. With that many connections, it’s virtually impossible to sort the wheat from the chaff.

I use LinkedIn all the time. But I don’t just play the numbers game. I’m not interested in accepting every invitation or sending out invites to people when I don’t see some sort of professional alignment.

Recently I decided it was time to do a little bit more LinkedIn outreach than I’d done in a while. As noted, I have no interest in filling up on useless connections or or becoming a LION. I just want to find, connect and actually build some relationships with folks who may be ideal clients or know somebody who is.

So the trick is to find people who will make my time on LinkedIn worthwhile. And I think I’ve found a way to make it happen. The following is a breakdown of my LinkedIn strategy.  I can definitively say that it has resulted in some great conversations that are moving toward strong business returns. So hopefully this same approach can work for you!

Define your audience

I say this all the time. I don’t care if you’re in IT or professional services, you need to know who is interested in what you’re selling. More importantly do those people have the decision-making authority to make a purchase.

Once you know that open up LinkedIn and mouse over the search bar in the top left column.

Click “People”

Then click All Filters.

Already you can see the many different options you can use to whittle those hundreds of millions of people with LinkedIn accounts down to the ones you need to connect with.

In my case I used four filters:

Connections: 2nd degree

Industry: Professional Training and Consulting

Location: United States

Connections of: I’ll keep this one close to my chest. But it’s someone I know in the industry who is very well connected.

After doing my search I had a very manageable list of 138 people that I wanted to connect with. Now I say manageable because, let’s face it, a lot of folks have accounts and never use them. So I can expect a lot of these people to never respond. But those who do, are already distinguishing themselves as at least a little bit social savvy.

There are no shortcuts to building business relationships

With LinkedIn it’s too easy to simply send a connection request. And if I had one feature request for the guys and gals running things, it would be to ban the generic invite option and force people to compose a proper introduction every time.

That doesn’t mean that every introduction you send has to be unique – but it should stand out from all the others people receive throughout the day.

Here is a sample of one I sent out. Every one of my invites received some variation on this theme:

Hi Bob,

I see we have a few connections in common. I’d like to add you to my network to keep up with what you’re doing and maybe steal some of your ideas for my blog.

Cheers,

Aidan

Apologies if this is a note you received and are now feeling a bit used. You weren’t. I genuinely want to have you as a connection and I probably will steal some of your ideas for my own blog – with credit and a link back to your site of course.

This request showed a bit of my personality and it referenced connections in common. Remember, I used the 2nd degree connection filter  – so I shared at least one connection with each of those 138 people. In some instances I shared more than 50!  

But just adding a new connection means very little if you don’t do anything to follow up.

One of my tricks is to take the conversation off the LinkedIn platform and send a longer note to folks who engage with more than an “Accept.”

To those connections I might say something like:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for accepting my connection request. I love LinkedIn, but I find that it’s far too easy to “connect and forget.” So I’m going to send you a quick note via email so you have my real contact information and I have yours in case we ever need to chat.

Thanks again,

Aidan

It’s important to note that I am not adding Bob to my CMS. He’s not going to start getting spammed with newsletters or sales pitches. I’m actually going to send him a REAL communication from my REAL email address.

It’s actually quite simple to find the email address on Bob’s profile and send an email introducing myself. I’m not trying to sell anything in the email, I’m trying to establish a rapport with my connection.

If I’m interesting enough  – and they are interested enough –  this can then go to a phone call about their marketing. In the last 2 months, this has resulted in multiple conversations, with more than a few progressing to the proposal phase.

Getting connections on LinkedIn is easy. Finding clients takes work. There are no shortcuts. But if you are willing to put in a little digital elbow grease you can make the technology work for you and grow your business quickly.