How do I connect with the right people on LinkedIn?
A friend reached out to me recently asking for advice for how to find and connect with her target audience on LinkedIn, and I walked her through the process of using LinkedIn advanced search.
Instead of sharing this advice with just her, I mentioned I would blog my response to share with all of you, too.
Looking to connect with your target audience on LinkedIn? Sure, you could use InMail from LinkedIn.
But I personally feel that InMail is similar to a cold call or an unsolicited email: your guard is up and you're typically not receptive to the person approaching you.
Wouldn't it be great if you could get their permission to message you? Well, if you connect with them -- and connect the RIGHT way -- you will gain that permission and their trust.
But just like you wouldn't ask for a person's hand in marriage on a first date before the appetizers arrive, you shouldn't sell to someone on LinkedIn too early in the connection process.
Here are the steps I take to connect with my target audience.
When logged into LinkedIn, type in your target audience's job title in the search bar. In this example, I'm going to connect with people who are a VP of Business Development. I click on "People" to see these results: over 13M LinkedIn members.
I want to refine this search a bit, so I click on "All Filters" in the upper right.
I only want to see people I'm not connected yet, so I select "2nd" and "3rd+ level" connections. I also want to target on a specific geographic area. In this case, I am choosing the San Francisco Bay Area. Then I click the "Apply" button. (note: yes, I have LinkedIn premium but you can do this search using the FREE version of LinkedIn)
This refines the results to show my over 439K members who match this criteria. I want to take this a step further and choose people I have something in common with, so I am going to choose "All Filters" again.
Now I add my alma mater where I earned my undergrad degree: Central Michigan University. By doing so, LinkedIn will refine my search results to only show people who have "VP of Business Development" in their profile, who are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, who I'm not connected, and who also attended Central Michigan University. Then I click the "APPLY" button again.
Now LinkedIn has refined my search to 154 results.
At this point, I am going to send each person an invitation to connect and add a note. I always recommend making the invitation all about the other person. By doing so, you will have a greater likelihood that the person will accept your invitation. If I haven't met the person yet, I let them know that up front so they are not racking their brain trying to figure out who I am. My note always references something about their profile, too. Here's a tip: when inviting them to connect, make sure you are ON their profile. If you want to send out multiple invites, click their name and right click to "Open in a new tab" as I've done here:
When I am ON their profile in the desktop version of LinkedIn, I'll see the header image in the background and I know I'm in the right place. Now, I will click on "Connect" to proceed.
When I click on "connect," LinkedIn will let me know that I can customize the invitation. ask if I want to "Add a note" or "Send now." I always choose to "Add a note."
In this search, I'll use this note (swapping out their first name with each invite):
Before I send, I'm going to copy the text so I can use it for the other invites I send from this search:
Now I go into my other tabs, type in "Hi (firstname)" and then paste the rest of the text. Then I hit "Send invitation" and repeat for all other results.
I have been using this approach for years as I have been growing my network, and I have found that personalizing an invitation and making it all about THEM versus selling or using a generic message will increase the likelihood that they will ACCEPT your invitation, plus it may help to create dialog.
I'll probably receive a handful of "Fire up chips!" messages back in the invitation response messages. And then I can keep the dialog going.
At this point, I may reply back with a soft sales pitch about my business. Something like this:
"Thanks for accepting my invitation to connect, Colleen. My business is Meller Marketing www.mellermarketing.com and I help people and businesses with marketing and social media, specializing in LinkedIn. Let me know if I can ever be a resource for you in either of those areas. And if you have a minute, tell me about what you do and how I can help leverage my LinkedIn network to help you. Brenda Meller"
You will notice a few essential elements in this response:
My 1-line sales pitch and a call to action. This is as much selling as I do in an invitation or message unless they express interest to learn more. I do not offer to meet them for coffee. I do not share a link to my calendar to schedule a call. I do not point them to my website for a 10minute demo. I do not send them a PDF white paper. (I do not like them, Sam I Am. I do not like green eggs and ham! Sorry - couldn't resist) I am not a salesperson, but I do find that people appreciate this approach because it's not overly aggressive yet it lets them know what you are selling (in case they are seeking those products / services)
A reciprocal offer of help. I ask them to tell me about themselves and I offer to help leverage my network. Sometimes this leads to referrals I send to them. Sometimes it leads to me referring them to people or resources. Sometimes it's none of the above but I tell them I will keep them in mind (based on their response).
My first and last name. I read years ago that there is a slight gender difference in communication and including a first and last name both when you introduce yourself and when you sign off on an email / message helps your audience to remember you and also positions you more favorably.
From this point, I continue the dialog if there is an opportunity to do so, or I may message them for other purposes in the future. But now I have their ACCEPTANCE of the invitation, and by not starting the invitation with an "ask," I have a higher likelihood that they will be receptive to my future messages.
That's it! Hope this provided you some additional insights to help you on LinkedIn. Please share this blog if you found it helpful.
Let's connect on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/brendameller
Need help with LinkedIn? Contact me.
I specialize in optimizing LinkedIn profiles to maximize your impact - helping you drive more of the RIGHT audience to your profile and than keeping them there when they visit your profile.
My LinkedIn training ranges from a 2-hour coaching session for $350 up to a "done for you" profile rewrite and ongoing training.
I also provide LinkedIn company page set-up and management services. Visit https://www.mellermarketing.com/linkedin to learn more.