Take your time? Or get on the spam wagon? There seem to be two very different ways to marketing yourself on LinkedIn. How do you do it? How can stand out? And how do you avoid being “that guy.”

You can generate leads for your business on LinkedIn quite easily, particularly if you’re working in a service-based industry or are offering your expertise as a consultant. You may be concerned that approaching LinkedIn with a lead-generation mindset will turn you into one of those bot-like offshore marketers who start their messages with, “I noticed we have a few contacts in common and that you work in…” We all know the type. 

Does the idea of generating new business on LinkedIn make you a little nervous? Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

So how do you start the process of generating leads on LinkedIn? 

First, you start by making relevant connections and developing relevant relationships. Next, you interact with the content of those connections you’ve made. Finally, when your connections approach you, have a clear outline of what you do, ready to present to them.

Why LinkedIn is a great place to generate leads

LinkedIn is a great place to build networks and nurture relationships. Most businesses create professional profiles and keep those profiles updated and in sync with their brand, their type of work or the place they work for. Connecting with people on LinkedIn is great for two reasons: It provides an opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in the eyes of your connections. This has a lot of value because there’s a good chance that, if you’re providing good value in your content, these connections will introduce you to someone else who may be interested in what you have to say. And it’s this network effect that grows your reputation way beyond just the people who know you in real life.

How to make connections with a lead-generation mindset

When you’re on LinkedIn, you want to make connections with people who are interested in what you’re interested in or at least, who have an interest in learning what you’re in the business of teaching. In my opinion, that’s the basis for networking. You may only spend 10 minutes a day on LinkedIn, but that time can easily be the cornerstone of your lead-generating efforts. But when it comes to getting in contact with someone, you want to Keep your LinkedIn messaging short and sweet. When you write a long, wordy LinkedIn InMail message it produces the same effect of a longwinded version of your website, your lead-generation efforts will have already fallen over before they even began. Keep your direct messages to under two sentences and give the other person a chance to respond to this short message. It makes it much more of a conversation than just a monologue from a person who is copying and pasting the same over-the-top pitch for business to everyone they connect with. Of course, LinkedIn is a place to do business, so your message should go to the heart of what you do. But sometimes it’s actually nice to go in with a bit of empathy and ask your new connection a bit about what they do. That’s certainly how I do it.

How to interact with new connections

When you first connect with someone, especially if you’re first making a contact, remember that you need to check and see what they’re doing. If they’ve been on LinkedIn for a while and aren’t showing any of their recent activity, have no work history to show, few connections and no profile photo, you may want to close the door on that connection. It’s likely that they are a scammer or someone in a spam farm somewhere offshore. What you’re looking for in a connection is either someone who has a completed profile that seems to resonate with you as being someone you’d like to know more about or you’re after someone who is actively expressing a desire for something that you do. Once you approach them (or they approach you) don’t go straight for the kill. Chances are that they didn’t want to connect with you just to be immediately pitched an idea or a proposal to do business. Think of this as a chance to build some rapport, get to know each other and get a better idea of whether this connection is a customer for you, or if you’re a potential customer for them.
When I’m approached by a new connection I like to accept that connection and then send a quick video message to thank them for the connection and offer to open a dialogue about the stuff that I’ve been posting lately – and ask them to tell you a bit about themselves. They honestly get surprised when I do it. Mind you, these videos are not planned and very off-the-cuff. I don’t rehearse it, I just go for it and sent a real live unedited greeting.

What’s next?

If you have any experience with LinkedIn, you’re aware that the majority of the information found there is not meant for the average Facebook user. This isn’t a personal connection or family fun site. There’s a lot of great stuff in there to explore, but it’s pretty much about the business world. If you want to generate leads for business from LinkedIn, you do need to get a little manual and a little personal. Especially if what you’re selling is your own time at a premium rate. Few, if any people on there are going to sign up for a high-end service based on a spammy introduction from some random guy who is spamming everyone he possibly can.