LinkedIn is a powerful and versatile tool. Many people use it to create a strong personal brand, but it also provides a great opportunity for you to generate new connections and, ultimately, new leads. In this article I will take you through the five steps you need to take to find, attract, connect with and truly engage with high-quality leads on LinkedIn.
Step 1: ASK
Learn from my mistake. About a year ago, I decided to create a comprehensive A-Z Complete Guide to LinkedIn online training program. It was going to be massive! 10 hours of video, hundreds of pages of content, tests and certifications. I had spent hours designing the program. I had paid for the website and the logo. And then my marketing and sales coach asked me; “Have you asked your audience what they want from you?” Oops. No, I had not, and I needed to get to know my customers!
I sent a survey out to my most engaged folks on LinkedIn, and the majority of those who responded said what they really wanted to learn was how to generate quality leads on LinkedIn. Many of them were already getting unqualified leads (people who couldn’t afford their product or service), but were having a real difficulty creating an inflow of quality prospects.
So I designed and created that course instead and it did MUCH better than anything I have done in the past.
Step one to attracting high quality leads on LinkedIn? Actually have a product or service they need or want!
Step 2: Know your audience
Here’s my definition of a lead:
A lead is anyone in a company, business, industry or organization who you find (or attract) who has a perceived need for your product or service, is aware of that need, and has the desire and ability to take advantage of your product or service.
Before you start connecting and engaging with leads, you need to know who they are. And the more selective you can be, the better. Yes, you might be able to serve “anyone with a face” or “anyone with a computer” or “anyone with a car” or “anyone with a family.” And you might think the more general and the larger the audience, the better. But the facts don’t lie, and the more targeted your audience, the more niche your offer and the more refined your messaging, the better conversions you’ll have. Really, how many super-loyal clients or customers do you need to have a really successful business? Ten folks at $100K a year, 100 clients who spend $10K a year with you, or 1,000 clients who spend $1,000? Do you really need to service “everyone with a car” – or the just 1,000 antique Porsche owners in the 90210 area code?
Step two is identifying your key audience(s) – known as the “buyer person” in marketing – and becoming the trusted thought leader who can solve their issues and facilitate their needs.
Step 3: Create a credible presence
Part of becoming a trusted advisor or thought leader is actually looking the part. If your LinkedIn profile sucks, it will actually cost you – not make you money. So step three is about creating a credible profile on LinkedIn. At the very least, complete these elements:
- Add a background image
- Upload a good picture of yourself
- Customize your professional headline
- Add or expand your summary
- Add or expand your experience
- Add your contact info
- Make sure you don’t have any spelling mistakes in your profile
- Add media to support your expertise
Step three to attracting the right leads is improving your profile. Getting it optimized will probably not take you more than a few hours, and is most definitely worth the time investment.
Step 4: Put a system in place
You absolutely can generate quality leads, converting them to true prospects and then customers through LinkedIn. But it takes a system, and it takes work.
This is where most people drop the ball. They either don’t know how to properly follow up with prospects, or they immediately go into a hard sell and turn new prospects off.
Here is my 10-step system for converting connections into leads, and leads into prospects and clients.
- View and make a few notes on your best-searched leads
- Customize your invite and ask them to connect
- Once they accept your invitation, respond with a “nice to meet you” type message, NEVER a sales pitch
- If they don’t respond, send another send another “nice to meet you” message and ask them a simple question, such as “What is your one biggest frustration in business, in life, on LinkedIn, with social media, etc.”)
- Wait a few days and follow up with “second touch” message – maybe share a blog post you wrote that solves a pain point you know they have
- Endorse the prospect
- Wait a week or so and share another piece of content that is helpful to them (again, NOT a sales pitch)
- In another week, send a “credibility building” message – maybe you have an interview or won an award or have an article in well-known blog
- When you start to get good feedback, send the “ask” message
- Ask for the phone call or meeting
Until they respond to you (by accepting your request to connect IRL or ask you to stop sending messages), continue to send helpful, useful information. This will keep you top of mind with them. They probably won’t need you (or won’t know they need you) the first time you connect. But over the next 90 days, as you keep in touch with them, they may very well decide they need your product or service – or know someone who does.
The key is being picky with the leads you choose. After all, not every search result is a great prospect. And be consistent with your messaging, taking care to avoid common social media blunders. There is no magic “ON” button.
Step four is to create a system so that with a minimal time investment and consistent activity on LinkedIn, you can start filling your funnel and your inbox with high-quality leads that not only can afford you, but are coming to YOU and asking YOU for your help.
Step 5: Turn the URL to an IRL (in real life) meeting!
Remember that LinkedIn is just the first step in your prospecting journey – and your relationship cannot be only online. Make sure you give your leads a way to engage with you.
- Share your contact info on your profile and in your messages
- Use calls-to-action in all your communications and copy
- Use a calendar tool (I use Calendly)
Connecting and engaging with high-quality leads means having an offer your needs need or want. Knowing who your audience is so that you can better service them. Having a credible presence on LinkedIn and finally having a system in place for consistent engagement with your chosen prospects.
Your activity on LinkedIn should not be a spamfest to the thousands. You don’t like getting spam, and neither do your leads. With every action you take on LinkedIn, think about how you would respond. If it makes you feel gross, don’t do it.
Creating the role of trusted advisor or thought leader will help you gain your prospect’s trust, and possibly their business. As my friend Bob Burg always says, “People do business with people they know, like and trust.” You can be that person – and become a digital marketing expert in the process – by using LinkedIn the right way!