With more than 706 million members, LinkedIn may seem like the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to sell their product or services to 706 million people? Let’s remember, however, that to find leads on LinkedIn is NOT about sales; It’s about building connections and developing relationships with people who may (or may not) be interested in what you have to offer.
Here are some tips for networking naturally on LinkedIn so you don’t develop that pushy “used car salesman” reputation that makes people want to run away:
1. Do your research first
Do some Google searches and peruse company websites to search for ideal clients instead of bombarding employees at that company for introductions. You may have a great track record helping Fortune 500 executives, but spamming them with connection requests out of the blue won’t win you any favors.
Once you know who you want to connect with, look them up on LinkedIn and see who you mutually know. You should also check which groups they might hang out in, and follow their company page.
2. Personalize your messages
When you finally decide on sending connection requests, don’t fall for the shortcut of using the LinkedIn sample text. That’s a perfect way to show your prospect that you have no idea who they are or what they do, so why would they want to connect with you?
Instead, include a snippet of how you met. Did you hear them speak at a conference? Mention that. A mutual friend introduced you at a networking luncheon? Say that. Prospective connections will pay more attention to your personal message than any automated text template.
3. Ask for personal introductions
Stalking someone’s connection list on LinkedIn is a little creepy, especially if you cold call these people and say, “we’re mutual friends with Jamie Smith” as the start of your conversation. Instead, to naturally find leads on LinkedIn, ask Jamie Smith directly for an introduction. Remember, most people will only make introductions for those they actually know and trust, so make an effort to befriend Jamie Smith first before asking for those introductions.
4. Build the relationship first instead of going straight for the sale
Don’t be the person who accepts a new connection request and immediately sends a message with a sales pitch. Not only will that new connection cringe at the tackiness, but they will likely tell others about your spammy tactic and you’ll have others hesitate or ignore your connection requests. Instead, send a “nice to meet you” message, thanking them for connecting.
Publish consistently on your feed, like valuable information they have posted on their own feed. Ask to meet in person if you’re local, or if you’re attending the same conference. Show your new connection that you are interested in them and what they do. Share value with them. If you wrote an article or blog recently that you think might resonate with them, share that in a personal message.
5. Keep your profile up to date
New connections will most likely check your profile before joining your network or responding to your messages, so keep it up to date. Always post a current headshot, fill in your headline and description with power words so prospects know exactly what you do, and don’t lie on your resume.
6. Build a network of people you know, like and trust
Don’t add everyone and anyone to your network. Your connections should be with people that you are interested in and want to work with, as well as those that provide value to you. Don’t add people that don’t resonate with you or have nothing to do with your business goals.
LinkedIn is a professional platform for either building your business or finding a job; It’s not a social network for connecting with your old school friends. Louise Brogan from The Social Bee has a great article on this.
There’s a huge difference between introducing yourself with your company name, and what you have to offer, versus introducing yourself with a hardcore sales pitch. Ensure that everything you do on LinkedIn is about building relationships; Craft your introductions and posts carefully and you won’t be perceived as a tacky salesperson desperate to make a sale.
Now it’s your turn – Do you actively find leads on LinkedIn and take full advantage of the platform? If yes, what are some behaviors that really put you off, and do you have any failsafe tips to share?
PS: Here’s a free social media planner to help you organize your LinkedIn posts!