Our Thinking

Prospecting on LinkedIn

Most people have a LinkedIn profile.  And most people understand the importance that relationships play in building a business, making a sale, or getting the job.  But most people are mystified when it comes to using Social Media (and LinkedIn in particular) pro-actively.

Of course, there are active strategies that are a play on content marketing: putting something “out there” in the hope that a person or organization will happen upon that content (or happen upon your profile), and then reach out to make contact.   Examples of this include creating a robust profile filled with keywords, periodically sending out new status updates, or contributing meaningfully within LinkedIn groups.

If you are doing these things, then you are fertilizing the soil, but not planting any seeds. To grow business, you need strategies that are even more pr0-active.  Here are six of them:

1) Before you meet anyone in the real world, search for them on LinkedIn. If you have very little time, doing this will expose at least some of their background.  And when you do meet, you can ask them about common connections.  If you have more time, call the common connections first; you’ll not only strengthen that relationship, but you’ll arm yourself with invaluable intelligence for your meeting.

2) Check on who is viewing your profile.  Reach out and say hello, asking them about their interest in you.  You can offer to send some more background, or perhaps schedule a short phone conversation. Hint:  See who you know in common, and reach out to them first.

3) Groups:  After developing a reputation in a LinkedIn group as a contributor, ask another contributor if they wish to get together for a short phone meeting or a  coffee.

4) Third-party introduction:  Review the connections of one person that you know well at a “target” company, and ask if they could help set up a coffee meeting with a specific individual on their connections list.  After the coffee meeting, ask that individual if you can be connected within LinkedIn.

5) Improve your 1st-degree relationships. Review all of your connections; compile a list of people that you don’t know that well, and reach out to each of them for either a phone call or in-person meeting.

6) Comments:  Instead of a generic comment on someone’s post, ask directly if you can “connect” in the real world. Sometimes a simple “can we connect over the phone?”  will work wonders.

What is the common thread between each of these pro-active prospecting strategies?  Each one aims to transform an online relationship to a real-world one.  Whether you are looking to close a deal or get a new job, most people will not commit without spending real time together.

This Week’s Action Plan:  If you’ve already made the investment in a Social Media profile, and you’ve made the investment in learning how Social Media works, it’s now time to get a return on this investment.  This week, leave the passive world behind and execute at least one of these active prospecting strategies.

Marketing insight:  The Relationship Curve suggests that a sale is not made without first moving through awareness, preference, then trial.  These prospecting strategies are all designed to move people from one stage, into another.

President of 108 ideaspace, Randall Craig is a leading Social Media & Web Strategist.  Once a month we share Randall Craig’s blog here on 108 ideaspace. However, the Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

This post has been written by 108’s Senior Advisor and former CEO Randall Craig.