LinkedIn Lead Generation: A simple, authentic and relationship based approach

I've been in business for eight years and prior to having my own business, I worked as a high school teacher, a Spanish teacher, and I also worked at a large nonprofit.

That means that I was really skilled at not asking for money. I was really skilled at working really hard and not making much money.

When I moved into my own business, I thought it was going to be very logical. You have your business plan. You follow the steps. Everything works out. Right? No. Reality hit me hard. Growing my business was nothing like doing a business plan. I discovered that being an entrepreneur and having your own business (being self-employed) is very much an emotional journey. It requires all of you. It exposes all your fears and all your inadequacies. It is also an incredible channel from which you can share your gifts, your talents, your abilities, and everything like that.

Fortunately, my business started out well. Then, late in the second year, I hit this really, really low streak on clients. Nothing was happening. Why? Because I got comfortable (and perhaps lazy) relying on word of mouth marketing. I wasn't growing myself in my skills of building relationships or sales.

I did what people told me to do. First, I joined the Chamber of Commerce. For me, it was not fruitful. It was $100s instantly down the drain. Second, I began attending networking events. I was living in Las Vegas at the time. Sometimes, I was networking up to 20 hours a week. I’m kind of a hybrid. I’m not full-on introvert. I’m not full-on extrovert. Still, networking in person was horribly draining and exhausting. Maybe you can relate.

I kept thinking. “I’m investing all of these hours every week. I’m meeting everyone in the world… except for great leads.” In all that time, I never landed one great client. In fact, not one sales conversation came from those countless hours.

I knew I had to try something different. One day, I decided to reach out to 1st connections on LinkedIn to see what would happen.I spent about 30 minutes sending out a small message for my social media marketing agency. I offered a free social media assessment.

To my surprise, from this short 30 minute investment, I landed 3 sales calls! I instantly kissed networking in person goodbye! Using LinkedIn, I began to cultivate relationships, start conversations and land clients. I started heavily focusing on building relationships via LinkedIn and my business grew.

Know this: With one or two simple lead generation techniques that work well for you, you can build your business on your own terms.

Below, I’ll share with you how you can reach out to your ideal clients on LinkedIn and get to know them more.

But before that, let’s cover two important points.

Finding your ideal clients on LinkedIn

First off, understand that for some business owners, it is easier to identify ideal client on LinkedIn. For others, it’s more challenging.

If your ideal client has a clear cut job title, finding them on LinkedIn is fast and simple! For example, if you work with bookkeepers, it is going to be easy for you to find them on LinkedIn. If you work with graphic designers, life coaches or bloggers, it’s easy to find them on LinkedIn. However, the hardest people to find on LinkedIn (and perhaps anywhere) is when you’re looking for someone who is in a process. What do I mean? Here’s an example. If you are a Realtor and you are looking for people who are “thinking” about buying or selling, you are going to have a harder time. If you’re a book editor looking for an author who is close to finishing a book, you will have a harder time.

Authenticity

When it comes to authenticity, one of the main things to focus on is to trust yourself and show up as yourself consistently.

That means, if you are all about rings, bracelets and necklaces, wear those! If you are all about huge hats, wear those! If you are all about tattoos, don’t hide them. Be yourself, however that looks for you. Concerning lead generation, do what feels good to you. I know that may sound silly. However, if you find a lead generation method that feels good to you, you’re more likely to keep doing it. The more you center building relationships around how you’re wired, the better and the more sustainable they are.

Do you know how many cold calls I did in 8 years of business? I did one. That was enough for me to know that cold calling is not for me. Cold calling, for example, is something that was never going to work with me and how I’m wired. Making my life into some type of reality show on Instagram is not going to work for me. It’s not how I’m wired. While almost all social media is built around entertainment (or shifting that way), LinkedIn has been unique for years. It’s for professionals. It is for those who want to grow themselves and their businesses. That’s why LinkedIn always sticks out to me.

The point is this. Honor yourself and what works with you.

Simple tips for lead generation on LinkedIn

Build your network with ideal clients using LinkedIn search

LinkedIn search is a great way to build your network with ideal leads (connections).

For example, if I want to reach out to business coaches, with whom I share a mutual connection, I would simply click “2nd” for connections while in the search. LinkedIn will update the list and show me how many business coaches with whom I share a mutual connection.

If I reach out to them, I can start building your network even more. This works with anyone who has an ideal client that you can find via searching for his/her job title.

On desktop, you have an option to “add a note”. Adding a note is where you send a personalized message. Always do this. This is the person’s first encounter with you. Plus, this is where I’m going to direct you to be authentic.

When you reach out to people, as much as possible, you want to make it about them.

Don’t say:

“Hi Jenny, I just came across your profile and I'm working to build my network and would like to connect now. “

There's nothing wrong with that, but Jenny is not waking up at 4am thinking, “Man, I hope I get some LinkedIn connection requests from some random people so I can help them build their network!”

When you connect with someone, intrigue them. Engage with them. For example, writing something like this is engaging and connective:

“I see you are a business coach. On a regular basis, I share content about authenticity and identifying ideal clients on LinkedIn. If that sounds like something interesting to you, let’s connect.”

You want it to feel easy to them.

It is also worth checking out their profile. Find a common interest and comment on that when making the connection request.

Once someone has connected with you, most likely they will look at your profile. They are going to see your headline. It’s important to have a clear and compelling headline.

Next, interact with them!

If they post an article or if they post something that they experienced that day, interact with them. Leave a like and a thoughtful comment.

You want to engage with people between being a new connect and actually sharing an offer, assessment or a discovery call. Do not connect and instantly pitch someone. As a general rule of thumb, I say at least have 30 days between becoming connected and reaching out to share a free assessment, offer, etc. Also, you do not send your offer. You ask them for permission first. Ask them if they want to have the conversation in the first place. Permission-based marketing is the way to go.

Hashtags on LinkedIn

Hashtags are another great way to find your ideal client on LinkedIn.

You can follow hashtags. You could go on LinkedIn and look at what people are saying about certain topics.

If you are on your desktop, and you scroll down to the left, you are going to see this little font that reads“Followed Hashtags”. Here, you can see the hashtags you are following.

Sometimes, your ideal clients are going to identify themselves by the hashtags in their posts.

Scroll through the hashtag you search and see who might be a great fit for you. You are going to see their headlines when you do this. You can click over to their profiles to read more about them. Do they look like they may be a great lead? If so, send a connection request along with a personalized message.

Also, look at how they’re using hashtags. What are your ideal clients talking about? Are they complaining? Are they excited about something? It could be that the hashtag that you’re looking at is for a type of pain point. It might be a benefit. It even could be a job title, where the ideal client is identifying themselves for you. Example: #executivecoach

Hashtags can be any wide variety of words or phrases. They are another technique that is pretty simple to use in terms of lead generation. You just have to spend a little time with them and see how they work.

If you are following hashtags, from time to time LinkedIn is going to show you popular posts. In your notifications, you’ll see something like “People are responding to this post”. A popular or viral post can attract all these people who fit your ideal client profile. Comment on the popular post. Like people’s comments. Engage.

Using hashtags, you can create a list of them. When you do, you literally can click through and connect with people who seem like they might be a great fit for you and your business.

When to send your offer

LinkedIn is a long game for networking. Now that you have built your network full of ideal clients, when can you send the offer?

You want to put space between a connection request and offering something. I recommend around 30 days. It can be more or less for you. During that time, you want to interact with that person. If they are sharing content, interact with their content.

A main focus is permission-based marketing. This would be asking somebody first if they want information. (Do not word-vomit 8 paragraphs to someone out of the blue.)

For example:

“I just heard this incredible podcast about (topic). I think you might be interested. Would you like me to share the link with you?” (You’re asking for permission to share when you write like this.)

It could be a podcast, a book recommendation, really anything. It just has to feel right, be legit, and be relevant. It needs to be something that you really think will help them.

Additionally, if someone connects with you on LinkedIn, they do not give you permission to snag their email and throw it in your email list. That turns people off.

Post about your offers. Have a call to action in your profile. Build connections with people.

Although this is a large conversation, I hope this gives you clarity and confidence about diving into LinkedIn and building relationships there.

Questions, thoughts or comments? Feel free to reach out to me.

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