|LinkedIn Visual Network Mapping Tool – InMaps|
I'm going to document several dilemmas I've had for a while and publish the info I've gathered, with the prospect of putting them in action.
So these posts come less from my experience and more from research; I'll follow up on these actions and explain what has indeed worked for me and what hasn't. Or you can visit my LinkedIn profile and know I've succeeded if I have 500+ connections.
Today's question is how to connect with target professionals on LinkedIn and transform them into leads.
The whole LinkedIn idea is to connect with people you've met in person, or at least that's what LinkedIn recommends. The quality of your network speaks about your professional circles and it reflects your interests and how up-to-date you are in making the social media channels work for you.
Surely, LinkedIn asks you to provide the email address of the person you're trying to add, but you have all the other options to bypass that.
I didn't exactly follow LinkedIn recommendation on adding only real-life contacts to my network; since I've started this blog, I've been searching [on Twitter, blogs, about.me] and connecting with other international marketers. I am interested to see their activity updates and learn from their experience, so I requested to connect, with a very good response ratio.
So - with peers, it was easy & you seem legit. No problems there.
But how about connecting with potential clients or users of your services? What's the best way to connect with these professionals? No to mention what you do in case they - god forbid - accept your request: how do you communicate with them on this channel without annoying, intruding or harassing them?
I've once sent a request to connect to a person for which my company's services were relevant. I got a polite reply like "Thank you for the invitation, but have we met?". Still a better treatment than people usually apply to spam.
No, we haven't.
Maybe I'm not sure how to proceed because I don't even see the steps clearly. It can't really be 1. connect | 2. promote | 3. get request | 4. sell.
So first of all, what is the purpose of connecting on LinkedIn with decision-makers from your target market? [don't say sell]
Mainly, I am interested in their activity on this platform: who they're connecting with, what groups they're joining, what events they're attending; I'm trying to be in their shoes as much as possible.
But LinkedIn is a tool to build relationships. To get there & increase your chances that people accept your invitations to connect:
- Use the website on regular basis [stating the obvious, but I've heard people saying Wait, I didn't go on LI this week]
- Join the relevant & active groups
- Don't turn off the group activity digest emails [I carefully unchecked that box every time I joined a group. Don't.]
- Actively participate in discussions [this is the heavy lifting where you have to be competent in target industry's topics] with content, answers and opinions
- Send invites to connect to those people engaging in the same discussion
- Don't use the generic "I'd like to add you to my ...". Write custom messages referring to recent interactions you've had, points of view you've appreciated, new things you've learned by reading their contributions.
It's about being actively engaged; let me try it for a while and I'll be back to share.
P.S. Recent finding for me - the option to search by keywords in status updates to find people sharing the same interests as you. Blindly unaware of that one.