How to Effectively Reach Out to Leads on LinkedIn

I engaged heavily in direct sales for the better part of a year in 2015. I was successful, building a good income through product sales. Recruiting, however, wasn’t my forte.

Here’s why:

I couldn’t bring myself to try to sell to someone who didn’t want what I was selling.

Products were a different beast — I generated interest through Facebook posts or one-on-one conversations and responded to inquiries. With recruiting, I felt pressure to reach out to as many people as I could and pitch that the business could generate massive amounts of revenue.

The problem, though, was that I knew the truth: the only way it would generate “massive amounts of revenue” was if the person was good at sales. I saw an opportunity to use standard business marketing practices to bring in warm leads, but I saw a much greater advantage to focusing on my own business rather than someone else’s.

My suspicions were confirmed when my LinkedIn consultancy took off and I left direct sales in the dust.

Whose Needs Matter More?

My point here is that I’m not the person who will try to talk anyone into something they don’t need. That’s not my style and it shouldn’t be yours.

Instead, I look for people who want what I’m selling. When I sense even the slightest bit of interest, I’m as good as you’re going to get.

So, you may ask, how do you determine whether a person has interest?

This is where I think a lot of people miss the mark. Instead of putting time into determining whether a lead has a desire for the product or service they’re selling, they jump right into the ask.

This is both off-putting and ineffective, even for those who do have a genuine interest.

Here’s the thing:

When you jump right into asking someone to buy from you without getting to know them first, you’re essentially telling them that it’s your needs that matter, not theirs.

To gauge whether a person has interest in what you’re selling, you must first engage in a mutually-beneficial relationship. The person you’re engaging with must believe that you have his or her best interest at heart, or you will fall as flat as a pancake.

The Mutual Benefit

Needing to establish a mutually-beneficial relationship doesn’t mean the cold reach-out is dead — quite the opposite, in fact. You’re reading the words of someone who loves cold reach-outs (you can learn all about how I conduct them here).

What is important to remember is that a cold reach-out is rarely done to actually make a sale. Typically it’s done to spark interest.

The key is to be patient — desperate isn’t a good look and your prospect will be able to sniff it out a mile away. Be willing to build relationships and let them flourish. If someone is interested, they’ll be interested … give it time.

What does it look like to kick off a budding online relationship? It can look different with each prospect. Take a look at these three scenarios, each of which has a different objective:

  1. Connecting on LinkedIn
  2. Scheduling a call
  3. Making the ask

Scenario 1: Connecting on LinkedIn

You develop the personal brands of current and former professional athletes. You are engaging on LinkedIn and find John, a former professional football player who now has his own consulting agency. You would love to work with John, but have never spoken to him and don’t want to put him off.

To kick off the relationship (no pun intended), you send a connection request that includes a (very) simple note:

  • “Hey John. I work with professional athletes on their personal brands. Seeing as you’re a former NFL player, I would love to connect with you here on LinkedIn!”

John accepts your connection request and you add him to your list of leads on Sales Navigator. Then you continue pushing out original content geared toward professional athletes, sometimes sending John your articles via private message and asking him to share to his network.

One of two things will happen from here: either John will reach out to learn more about your business or you will eventually reach out to gauge interest and schedule a call.

Scenario 2: Scheduling A Call

You’ve seen Sally, the owner of project management company, on LinkedIn. You aren’t connected, but are in a LinkedIn group together. Your hope is that she needs someone to manage her social media.

A cold reach-out may read like this:

  • “Hey Sally, I saw we’re in the same social media group together. I’d love to connect here on LinkedIn and maybe schedule a call to learn more about one another’s businesses. Are you available this week?”

If Sally is interested in a call, you chat about one another’s businesses. If she truly is in the market for social media help, you mentioning that you manage social media for small businesses is likely to spark her interest.

If it doesn’t, you can mention that you would love any referrals she can give, and then you feel good that you’ve added someone to your growing network.

Scenario 3: The Ask

Yes, sometimes you make the ask right away. In this scenario, you specialize in working with business coaches who are also public speakers. You produce original content on their behalf, manage their social media, and generate leads for speaking gigs.

You’re perusing LinkedIn and come across Laura’s profile. Laura is a business coach and public speaker who hasn’t published an original article in six months. She has, however, shared videos of herself speaking at a few live business events and she’s good at what she does.

A cold reach-out might read like this:

  • “Hi Laura! I am a marketing specialist who works specifically with business coaches and public speakers. I came across your profile and am really impressed by what you do — you have a lot of great information and are a fantastic public speaker. I would love the opportunity to speak with you over the phone about what I might be able to do for you. I help my clients with original content as well as lead generation for speaking events. If you’re interested, I’d love it if we could connect here on LinkedIn and then schedule a call for this week!”

This reach-out makes the ask right away, but it’s personal and mutually-beneficial. By asking in this way, you are acknowledging a specific need Laura might have. If she doesn’t have that need, she’ll say so (and you should respectfully end the conversation and not badger her). If she does, she’ll be pretty darn excited you reached out.

Enjoying the Chase

I’m a self-professed lover of lead generation. The art of scouting out potential leads, learning all I can about them, and reaching out as I deem appropriate is something I enjoy doing for myself and my clients.

If you are interested in lead generation for high-end offers, connect with me via LinkedIn or email chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

What’s the Best Way to Conduct a Cold Reach-Out?

Look, I get it. You need clients. We’ve all been there. But I’m constantly shaking my head at the cold reach-outs I receive that miss the mark.

Cold reach-outs are — how do you say it? — my jam. I love online networking, especially on LinkedIn. There is a certain rush that comes with forging a new professional connection, and it doesn’t hurt when that connection turns into a new client.

How do I do it? What are my secrets? Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Get Personal

Seriously, guys … enough with batch-emailing a sales pitch. It really is true that when you’re attempting to speak to everyone, you’re really speaking to no one.

I genuinely shake my head when I get a cold pitch about website services, business coaching, or marketing help. It’s clear the person who sent it sent the identical message to 99 other people, which is a huge turn-off. I suppose that works for some people (does it, really?) but it’s not a method I employ.

Instead, take a look at who you’re pitching and speak to that person when you send a message. I recently spoke about this on Natalie Eckdahl‘s BizChix podcast:

Whenever I cold reach out to people the No. 1 thing is that it needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship. Not everybody’s going to respond, but the big thing that I do is talk about the person; they can tell that I’ve read their profile, they can tell that I see a true benefit in connecting.

2. Truly Get Excited

When I sat back to think about why cold reach-outs work for me, this was a huge one. I have a very specific profile of my ideal client in mind, so when I find someone who fits that profile, I get really excited.

For real.

I have two specific “avatars” I work with: professional athletes and passionate, business-to-business entrepreneurs. The two avatars have a lot in common: both have small businesses (ideally 1-5 people), personal brands, and are passionate about helping others through their businesses.

When I find someone who fits that profile, my energy rises, which translates into whatever action I take: sending a personal message, a connection request, or simply tagging that person as a lead.

Know your ideal client (get really specific) and get excited when you find someone who fits that mold!

3. Use Your Gut

This may come easier to some, but it’s important to really think about the best plan of action when conducting a cold reach-out. Ask yourself whether reaching out would come across as intrusive or disingenuous. If it would, simply take note of the person and comment on his or her posts for awhile (“lurk,” as they say).

If you notice that you have a lot in common with a potential lead that truly justifies a personal note right away, go for it. The point is to hold back when it’s important to hold back and lean in when it’s important to lean in.

Don’t be scared to reach out, but don’t be sloppy with your reach outs, either. You only have one chance to make a good first impression.

4. Don’t (Always) Go for the Sale

There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s typically best to wait to ask for a sale.

Think about it this way: what do you think of people who corner you on the street with a flyer, asking you to purchase something on the spot? I’m guessing you either mumble a “no thank you” or give in out of guilt.

Individuals have to know, like, and trust you in order to purchase. That happens over time. A cold reach-out is the initial point of contact. You have to be patient when it comes to converting a sale … this is a long-term play!

Start with a relationship. Ideally, that person will turn into a client. If not, maybe you can get a referral. “Worst” case, you expand your network and that person thinks of you when a friend or colleague is looking for someone who does what you do.

You really can’t lose.

5. Have Fun

Yes, that’s right … enjoy it! There is nothing quite like networking and lead generation. I love “the hunt” — seeking out other professionals to collaborate with is one of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur.

What do you think about cold reach-outs? Do you engage in them or do you shy away? Do they work for you or are you struggling?

Leave your comments below!

How My Competitive Spirit Has Made Me A Successful Entrepreneur

Once an athlete, always an athlete.

From the time I was a child, I loved competition — playing basketball, volleyball, tennis, and running track in middle and high school. Sometimes I was the best (in middle school I would beat girls and boys in the 800 meter run) and sometimes there was plenty of room for improvement (as a point guard, I would frequently get stuck in the right corner of the court because I couldn’t dribble left-handed).

I peaked as a runner as a freshman in high school, gaining weight and subsequently slowing down my sophomore year. I have since resurrected my love of running as an adult, running 3-5 miles daily at a 7:15-minute-mile pace.

Hey, it allows me to feel like I’m still a “real” athlete.

As someone who has worked with professional athletes, however, I recognize the shortcomings of my athletic ability. Sure, I can pretend I’m an Olympic star, but the truth is that I avoid structured races because I know my competitive spirit would attempt to win and I may keel over while attempting to keep pace with the top runners.

At least that’s what I tell myself. Maybe I avoid them because I don’t see the point in competing if I can’t win.

That’s why I love business. I’ve transferred my relentless desire to compete to another medium … and it’s one I win frequently.

An Athlete in Business

Leaving a professional sport (I was a digital media coordinator for the Detroit Lions) in early 2014 to be an entrepreneur presented an unexpected zing of feeling like the underdog. Engaging in business as an entrepreneur is one of the most intense competitions there is, and I felt it 100-percent.

I experienced a two-year journey of uncovering my strengths, ultimately learning that what fueled my love of athletics also drove me in business: strategy, competition, and the thrill of the win.

Whether it’s closing a new client or closing a lead for my clients, that feeling of winning is everything. Putting together a plan for myself or a client and seeing it come to fruition reminds me of how it felt to pass the boys’ exhibition team on the final lap of the 4×800 in high school. I relished it.

I clearly remember the look of fear on the face of my competition at the thought of being beat by a girl (God forbid) and swiftly passing him on the straightaway.

Don’t mess with me. I’m strong and I possess a relentless hunger to beat you.

My Perfect Clientele

This is why I love working with professional athletes — I speak their language. I get that they want to win and be the best at everything, but I also recognize that they must see the parallel between sports and business to realize that success.

The truth is that some don’t.

The ones that do — and see how they can leverage sports to be even better in business — do amazing things. It’s a combination of confidence and humility; understanding they aren’tthe best at everything, but knowing a certain amount of natural ability and hard work can result in greatness.

The Non-Athlete Athlete

Not all of my clients are athletes in the traditional sense.

I also work with entrepreneurs out who — like me — carry the mentality of a professional athlete. Those who love the thrill of the chase and passing competition on the final straightaway.

Sometimes that comes in the form of winning business deals. Other times that comes in the form of helping others. Achieving a “win” through seeing a client get physically healthy, build his or her own successful business, or develop a business strategy, all embody the clients I work with.

It’s about setting and achieving goals.

Successful Swag

Whether you’ve competed at the highest level of professional athletics or simply carry a business swag reminiscent of Steph Curry shooting a three at the buzzer, I want to hear from you. Reach out to talk business strategy, sports, setting goals, or getting wins.

There is always room to get to the next level.

LinkedIn is the Best Networking Party You’ll Ever Attend

I was recently told by one of my entrepreneurial friends that my engagement on LinkedIn had inspired her to dig even deeper into networking within the platform. I was posting success after success connecting with influencers and potential leads and it led to her reaching out to people she’d never considered reaching out to.

I find that success, quite simply, by looking at LinkedIn as the best networking party I could ever attend … and you can replicate my actions!

Here’s how:

1. Showcase Your Credentials

You can’t be afraid to showcase what you’ve done. I’ve worked for an NFL team, many athletes across a number of sports, and been an entrepreneur for more than three years. It’s important that I say that clearly and directly within my profile.

LinkedIn Networking Party Analogy: How would you introduce yourself to someone at an in-person gathering? What are the most relevant things about your professional background? Make sure those are highlighted within your profile and let me know if you need help.

2. Strike Up A Conversation

Be a real person! Reach out to individuals in your network just to learn more about their businesses. Tell them you think they’re impressive or that you love reading their content on the platform. Send connection requests to individuals you don’t know with a note that compliments them or inquires about their work.

LinkedIn Networking Party Analogy: Don’t be that person at the party who keeps to him or herself or only talks to the one you drove with. Put yourself out there and learn about other people — you never know where you’ll find common ground or who you’ll end up collaborating with. The best leads are often disguised as irrelevant connections!

3. Take An Online World Offline

Let LinkedIn be a conduit to connecting with people over the phone or in person. I love scheduling calls with others in my industry just to talk for 15-20 minutes about who they are, what they do within their business, and their longterm goals. Sometimes that turns into a pitch for services, other times it’s just a conversation that helps me get better acquainted with someone.

LinkedIn Networking Party Analogy: One of the great things about networking parties is they allow you to inform others of what you do and who you target. You may meet someone who knows someone who is looking for someone just like you. That same phenomenon occurs through LinkedIn by connecting offline! Schedule an informational call and you may just hear, “Let me connect you with …”

Noteworthy: The Athlete Advantage

If you’ve played sports in college or within a professional league, I have one piece of advice regarding LinkedIn: exploit the heck out that experience.

I don’t care what sport it was, whether you’re male or female, or whether you won a championship … playing sports at either of those levels is a point of conversation and something people want to be associated with.

As someone who worked in digital media for an NFL team for nearly 10 years, I can attest that this applies beyond those who play on the field or court. I accrued so many LinkedIn connections over that decade that are paying huge dividends now.

Okay, you may be thinking, that sounds great. How do I do that? I don’t want to come across as self-absorbed.

Fantastic question! Here is how you maximize that experience:

  1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your headline references your background in sports and that your experience is complete. There will be plenty of curious eyes on your profile — make it good!
  2. Show your depth. Athletes — especially those who aren’t headliners — are competitive, disciplined, and have plenty of stories to share. Remember that LinkedIn is a networking party — provide anecdotes as they pertain to your business objectives. Life and business lessons are always embedded in sports stories.
  3. Connect with relevant people. This includes other athletes, influencers, business professionals, and media. The key is to connect with them before you need something, but after you are well on your way with profile optimization and sharing content. Form the relationships now so you can ask for what you need later.

The moral of the story? Treat LinkedIn like the online networking party it is and build your business in the process!

4 Reasons Reserve Athletes Make Up the Best in Business

Many athletes struggle with capitalizing on their pro sports career when transitioning into business. They see what they did in the sports world as “no big deal” and that it’s “cheating” to allow it to give them a leg up.

This is primarily true of those who don’t have blockbuster careers. Headliners often have no problem taking advantage of the fame, but what if you only played two or three years? What if you never made it to an active roster?

Honestly, these athletes are often the best for business for a number of reasons.

1. You Fought for What You Received

We all know about the guy who had no problem starting at every level. The player who coasted his way to starting as a freshman before becoming a first-round draft pick. For those players, it always came easy.

Not for you. You had to scratch and claw for every opportunity you received because it didn’t come easy for you. As a kid, you were always elite. You were the best in your hometown and there was no doubt you would move on to stardom.

Once you reached the collegiate level, however, you met players far better than you. Or perhaps you recognized that – while you were great in college – you weren’t physically built to be elite in the pros.

This is a tough pill to swallow and it humbled you, but it also fueled you to work even harder. It resulted in commitment and dedication to achieving your dream of playing at the pro level … and you did it.

2. You Work Hard in the Classroom

Fighting for that final roster spot meant you had to be great in the classroom. You had no choice. Not only did you have to be as easy to work with for the coaches as possible, you had to know how to fill in at more than one position to carry value.

Non-starters have to be flexible, regardless of the sport. In baseball, you’re called a utility player. In football, you have to learn new plays at multiple positions each week. It’s an added burden that requires greater commitment.

You may have also experienced moving between teams during your career or during the same season. Each move requires learning a new playbook, system, or strategy. Often the primary hurdle is picking up new terminology, signals, or signs, but it still requires quick learning or going home.

3. You Possess Discipline

Pro sports is a hierarchy. All players are not treated equal. Though touted as “just a game” by fans, sports is a business that requires winning. For that reason, starters receive preferential treatment, regardless of the sport.

This means you had to work overtime to hone your skills because you didn’t get as many reps as the starters. You had to pull coaches aside for extra work because they put their focus and energy on the starters during practice.

You were responsible for putting in the work required to keep your job … no one was going to do it for you. That shows discipline and integrity because nothing was handed to you.

4. You Are a Team Player

During games you may have acted as a bench coach, encourager, or scout … and you did all of that knowing you were one injury or extra inning away from getting into the game.

I was always in awe of the inactive or reserve players during my time in the NFL. They were often the most charismatic, fun, and supportive guys on the roster and put the betterment of the team ahead of their own personal goals.

A good sense of humor is also common among these players. I remember one guy in particular who was added and then released multiple times each year for many seasons. Each time he came back, we would see and laugh, “You’re back?”

He would smile and say, “Yeah, I’m back,” even though this constant back-and-forth meant moving multiple times throughout the year and staying in shape year-round just to be ready in case he received a call.

Let Pro Sports be Your Brand

Whether you played two seasons or two minutes at the professional level, the fact that you made it there at all is something to build your brand around. Recognize that playing professional sports is a job that requires a number of high-functioning skills to succeed.

Leverage it to build the business you are passionate about. Tell potential employers you played at the highest level of your sport and articulate why it matters. If the people you’re working with don’t recognize it for what it is, maybe they’re not the people you should be working with.

The bottom line? You put in the blood, sweat, and tears … now go ahead and own it.

How to Pitch a Story to the Media

Pitching a story to the media is truly an art form. There are a number of components to consider from the individual writing or reporting your story to the audience that will be reading or watching it.

I have pitched a number of stories in my role as Director of Communications for The ChadTough Foundation as well as in my consulting work with professional athletes. Therefore, I recognize what it takes for a story to be picked up.

Whether you’re looking to promote an event or simply promote yourself or your business, here are questions to ask yourself as you look to media to cover:

Is your story newsworthy?

There are two types of professional athletes: those who generate media attention when they wake up in the morning and those who are asked if they know the athletes who generate media attention when they wake up in the morning.

You know who you are.

I greatly appreciate the players who have a sense of humor when they show up to a kids’ charity event only to be asked if they “know Miguel Cabrera/Lebron James/insert megastar here.”

Point being, if you aren’t generating news simply because you’re breathing, you will have to ask yourself if what you’re doing is newsworthy. Note: stories that seem newsworthy to you may not be newsworthy to the general public.

Did you become the first in your family to graduate college? Live on 10-percent of your salary to set yourself up for after you’re done playing?

These may be worth covering for someone in the local media.

Is your story any good?

Let’s just lay it out there: will anyone care what you have to say? Often times — especially when promoting an event — perspective on whether a story is good or not is lost.

Think about browsing social media or reading ESPN — what catches your attention? What makes a good story?

When you’re trying to promote an event and you’re not Lebron James, the best way to get it out there is to pitch it along with an accompanying story.

For example, let’s say you’re putting on an event to raise money for foster kids. That’s really nice, but it isn’t a news story. Add in the component that you grew up in foster homes and persevered through it and you have a fantastic story.

Is your story mutually beneficial?

This is a big one.

When you’re pitching a story to a member of the media, you must think about whether it is mutually beneficial. If all you do is tell a reporter what you want out of their coverage, you won’t be doing the most critical thing of all: building a relationship.

Once you’ve shown a member of the media that you will help them look good by giving them quality stories, he or she will be more likely to pitch their editors to your events or initiatives.

Note: The mutually beneficial part also comes after the story runs. Push out the coverage via social media or link to it from your website with a thank you to the person who wrote or produced it.

What if your story isn’t picked up?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may consider a different way to get your story to the general public. Blog it yourself, write a press release, or post a video to social media talking about your event or initiative.

Bonus: Sometimes stories aren’t big enough for media to cover it themselves, but they will highlight your coverage. Send what you write or record to your media list and you may get coverage regurgitating what you’ve already done.

Do you have to do all of this yourself?

No, you don’t! When you’re just starting out, however, you may have to do a lot of this yourself.

Once you’re more established, it’s a good idea to hire a public relations professional who already has established relationships with the media, writing skills, and the ability to come up with quality stories to pitch.

When you get to that point of hiring someone, make sure you have a specific goal in place such as growing a business or a foundation. That way, you are putting your money to good use and will eventually get a return!

Happy pitching!

5 Myths About Professional Athletes and How to Leverage Them

There are a number of myths out there regarding professional athletes, most of which fuel bar talk among fans. These myths are irritating to professional athletes and many who work in the industry, myself included.

But, as a professional athlete, it’s important to recognize the advantage that can be had by defying these stereotypes publicly. Notice I said publicly. The majority of athletes defy them privately, but that doesn’t pose much of an advantage.

It’s when these actions are promoted within the media that an athlete can benefit through his or her business or foundation.

Let’s take a look at some of the myths.

The Myths

“All professional athletes are rich.”

This one is frustrating. There’s nothing like being treated like scum due to the perception of making millions. Hell, if I’m going to be treated like crap for making millions, it would be nice to actually be making them.

Considering only the marquee players receive mammoth contracts and the life span of an average pro sports career is between three and six years, money is rarely there and — even when it is — it doesn’t go far.

“Professional athletes have the easiest job in the world.”

I’ve seen players limping out of a locker room the day after a game, covered in ice packs, only to suit up the following Sunday. Sports are grueling, and the ones at a national level are punishing beyond compare.

When there are throngs of fans expecting a player to suit up and contention is on the line, there is little room for choice from the player’s side.

Then — to add insult to injury (literally) — fans call players weak when they sit the bench with a broken bone, bad sprain, or other injury that could provide life-altering setbacks if aggravated.

“All professional athletes are self-centered.”

Let’s be honest: athletes are caricatures to the average person. Pawns in a game of entertainment that is far more than entertainment to most. Many fans hold their quality of life in the hands of sports and don’t care that the men or women playing the game are, in fact, human beings.

I truly believe the idea of all athletes being self-centered is a way to subconsciously justify the horrible things fans say about them, but I digress.

“Professional athletes have no idea what it’s like to be me.”

Could this be the most frustrating of all? Yes, there are the celebrity-status athletes who live life differently than most, but most professional athletes couldn’t be picked out of a crowd when wearing street clothes.

“Most professional athletes are immoral.”

Not even close. There are plenty who give all a bad name, however, primarily because the media pounces on the negative stories. We live in a day and age where sensationalism is the way to be. It’s tough to turn our eyes from a train wreck, let’s be honest.

Making the Myths Work

Why bring all of this up? Because professional athletes can use it to their advantage. As painful as it is to look the other way when a drunken fan is hurling insults their way, actively defying these myths or stereotypes can result in great things.

How do they do this?

Here is a step-by-step guide:

1. Have a plan.

Athletes shouldn’t throw money at products or services without an end result in mind. When building a foundation, have a specific timeline laid out before getting started. Recognize what will be accomplished, how funds will be raised, and a plan for growth.

When building a business, athletes must recognize the products or services being provided, who they will be provided to, and how money will be made.

2. Hire a public relations rep.

Whether an athlete played three years or three days, there is an advantage, and it’s important to hire someone who knows how to work it.

Here are some guidelines:

  • They must know how to frame a story. This is critical to getting it picked up. Hosting a holiday toy drive is nice, but it isn’t a news story. Talking about a father of four, recently laid off, who will be able to provide Christmas to his kids because of your toy drive is absolutely a story.
  • They must have a great network. Between media contacts and people of influence, make sure your PR rep has relationships to leverage.
  • They must have basic communication skills. The last thing you want is a piece of content — press release, flier, etc. — published on your behalf looking like a child put it together. Your PR rep is your rep.

Make sure he or she knows how to speak and write. Design experience is a plus, but good taste (and a willingness to defer to someone with design experience) will do.

3. Work your network.

Whether it’s online or in person, athletes must be visible. They can leverage social media (which doesn’t have to be Facebook and Twitter … it could be LinkedIn!) and take advantage of these myths by being open about how they defy them.

They should allow a PR rep to pitch stories (so they don’t appear to be boasting), promote via social, and then follow suit with the right actions.

Fans will eat it up when presented the right way.

How to Get Responses on Sales Navigator

Have you invested in Sales Navigator but can’t seem to generate any results?

If so, ask yourself this question: Am I just going through the motions?

Sales Navigator is an awesome tool for any business or entrepreneur looking to generate leads, but it’s important to put in the time and effort it takes to produce results.

Here are five steps you can take to start generating results:

1. Articulate Your Purpose

I’d wager many of us skip this step without even realizing it. You have a business with a clear focus and, therefore, can just dive into searching for potential leads … right?

Wrong.

Make sure you get organized before you set up your searches by asking yourself questions to narrow down your target:

  • Am I targeting businesses or individuals?
  • If I am targeting businesses, who are the decision-makers within those businesses relevant to my services?
  • What is my ultimate goal in connecting with my target? (e.g. schedule a demo, schedule a discovery call, sign up for a service)
  • What are the key fields within search that will produce ideal results? Do I work best with businesses of a certain size or within a certain industry?
  • Am I looking for cold traffic (non-connections) or warm traffic (1st- or 2nd-Degree connections)?

2. Fill Your Funnel

Once you’ve narrowed down who you’re looking for, it’s time to conduct searches to fill your funnel. Use Lead Builder to put together one or two searches for your ideal clients. You may be someone who prefers to focus on one core group at a time (e.g. 2nd level connections within your target) or you may enjoy the rapid fire approach of filling your funnel using 3-4 different searches.

Here are two examples of searches for my business, which focuses on working with athletes, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs:

  • My search around athletes is simple: I input the keywords “NFL” (I have a decade’s worth of experience within that industry) and “Athlete.” Then I specify the Health, Wellness, & Fitness industry. Since most professional athletes are on LinkedIn because they have a foundation or business, those filters get me the results I need.
  • My search around entrepreneurs is slightly more complex. My niche is working with passionate entrepreneurs, ideally within the Health, Wellness, & Fitness industry. I have found that leveraging the search term, “Public Speaker” pulls in the type of entrepreneur I’m looking for: someone with a growing business who is also within the public eye. In addition to those two filters, I use the “Entrepreneurship” function and the business size of “1-10.”

Once you have your searches in place, you can start filling your funnel with leads, but beware! This is where it’s easy to veer off course.

3. Study Potential Leads

This is a critical step. It isn’t enough to just hoard potential leads within Sales Navigator and “like” their posts every day. You need to take a look at what these individuals or businesses stand for before adding them and then read what they post. This will give you an idea of who your leads are and whether they will be a good fit to work with you.

Why is this such a big deal? If you take the time to get to know your potential leads and uncover the mutual benefit of working together, it will show when you reach out. Suddenly, you aren’t just looking for business for you … you are looking for a relationship between you and this business or individual.

That genuine approach makes all the difference in the world.

4. Reach Out … Without A Catch

Don’t reach out to a potential lead with an immediate ask for business. Yes, there are certain situations that warrant this (i.e. invitations to an event), but — for the most part — it’s critical to reach out without asking for a purchase or contract.

Let me illustrate why this is important.

I am an entrepreneur with a service-based business. I receive direct reach-outs from business coaches asking me to become a client. This floors me every single time. A business coach/entrepreneur relationship is personal and isn’t something I’m going to dive into after a blind reach out.

I actually have a business coach (shoutout to Natalie Eckdahl) and it’s no coincidence that that relationship formed organically. I was a longtime listener of her Biz Chix podcast and she was offering a price break on her Strategy Sessions. I had just decided to take a step forward with my business strategy and took her up on that offer.

Unbeknownst to her that I was waiting in the wings, she was nurturing me as a lead with her content. The stars then aligned with her offer and I took her up on it. Our relationship has since progressed to me becoming a coaching client and then a part of her ProfitChix Mastermind.

Use this type of engagement within Sales Navigator. Reach out to a lead you know will be a good fit and simply connect to start the ball rolling. If you’ve done your homework and your reach out is genuine, you’ll more than likely receive a response.

5. Nurture Your Leads

How do you nurture your leads? Do what you do best. Post informative content, share relevant articles, like and engage posts. Maybe you send a private message to a potential lead with a link to an article you think is helpful.

The key is to keep plugging away. This can be difficult because you have no idea how you are impacting those you are communicating with, but trust me when I say that you are. If you have a quality service and you know what you’re talking about, you are making a difference with the leads you are speaking to. The illustration to the right is one of my favorites regarding this principle!

To recap, you can generate responses on LinkedIn Sales Navigator by:

  1. Articulating your purpose
  2. Filling your funnel
  3. Studying potential leads
  4. Reaching out … without a catch
  5. Nurturing your leads

Get started and share your results!

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How to Capitalize on Being Well-Known

There are many degrees of “famous.” In fact, fame is relative when broken down. My die-hard sports fan of an uncle may know every player to don a Detroit Tigers uniform while my best friend from college may not know what an inning is.

Because there are so many levels of fame, every business person who is “known” should leverage it. Plenty of start-ups publish blog posts to resounding silence and have to pay for every Facebook like, email sign-up, and Twitter follower they receive.

If you have a network, use it.

Here’s how you can get started:

1. Start with Friends and Family

No, I’m not joking. When you are known just for being you — maybe you’re an athlete, philanthropist, or stage performer — your friends and family are your biggest fans. They love to boast about every single thing you do and will share it to their social media platforms, by word of mouth, and through email.

If you are starting a business and you have a fan base made up of your friends and family, start there. Let them know what you’re up to, have them follow your social media accounts, and pass along any materials they can forward to their friends.

Exceptions to the rule: anyone who is toxic or who would purposefully tarnish the image of you or your business. Skip those people!

2. Nurture Your Raving Fans

Anyone who is well known has a core group of raving fans who want to be a part of everything they’re doing. Maybe these individuals love your foundation’s mission, followed your college sports career, or were first in line at your local concert.

The key is to feed any and all material to this group. Make them feel special by giving them inside information. Start a closed Facebook group just for them where you make a point to spend time each week engaging.

These people are your lifeblood and will grow your business or foundation.

Think of a bulls-eye. Your raving fans are the circle at the center. The more you feed those fans, the bigger that circle will get because they will spread what you’re doing to their networks. That’s how you grow.

3. Keep Relationships with Influencers

If you have reached the point of stardom — even if it’s local — there are influencers who have shared your story. It may be a local news or TV reporter, the principal or superintendent of a school, or a PR director.

Nurture those relationships and make sure they are mutually beneficial. Do favors for those influencers (within reason) by coming out to an event or signing memorabilia for an auction.

Yes, there are those who will try to take advantage of you, but try to find the genuine ones who clearly care about you and what you’re doing. If you have to ask a trusted friend and family member to help you spot the good apples, do it. The key is to find the influencers who have your back.

4. Give Your Network a Reason to Care

It isn’t just enough to maintain these relationships — you have to give these people a reason to care.

Whether you have a for-profit business or a non-profit foundation, share the personal side of why you started that entity and then continue to engage with content. Stay active on social media, post photos of your business or foundation, conduct interviews, and talk about the passion you have for what you’re doing.

Leverage the network you already have to kick-start your marketing efforts and then continue to grow as a person and a professional. These people will cheer you on every step of the way and help you make your dream a reality!

I Have to Have a ‘Why?’ … Why?

As an entrepreneur, it is critical to have a ‘why.’ What does that mean?

Your ‘why’ is the reason you are doing business in the first place. It’s what fuels your fire and gets you up in the morning excited to start your day. Businesses with a ‘why’ do better than those that don’t because it connects the consumer with your product or service.

I saw a great example of this on The Partner, the CNBC reality show starring serial entrepreneur, Marcus Lemonis. In one of the episodes, he gave the contestants the challenge of selling products at a mall kiosk.

If you’ve ever walked by a mall kiosk, I’m assuming you’ve also executed the head-down-if-I-don’t-look-at-them-they-won’t-ask-me-to-try-a-sample method. Point being: these entrepreneurs had their work cut out for them, even if they did have cameras following them to add intrigue.

Marcus told the contestants they could research a number of different products and then choose the products they wanted to sell at their kiosk. The group that generated the highest sales total would win.

The contestants chose products they thought would be most appealing to the consumers that also had the best sales margin: candy, popcorn, designer bags, etc. They overlooked Flex watches, a product that donates 10-percent of sales to charity (each watch represents a different charity). Their mindset was that it would take too long to explain the backstory and, therefore, wouldn’t be worth trying to sell at a mall kiosk.

In the show, Marcus steps in after the groups are mostly unsuccessful and has a mall employee (or extra?) pitch the watches to passing customers. She sells seven (or something like that) in 30 minutes because she catches the attention of passers-by when she tells them that each purchase benefits a charity.

Now, I recognize this is reality TV that must have a plot to hold the attention of viewers (so we can question whether some of this was staged), but the overarching message rings true: people stop and pay attention when there is a purpose behind a sale.

Think about it: we are inundated with countless pitches on a daily basis with an ever-decreasing attention span. What is going to set one business apart from another? Tapping into emotions. Even when we are talking about products — cleaning products, for example — there are internal and philosophical reasons we purchase.

Network marketing is another great example. There are countless consultants selling the exact same products to friends and family. The difference-maker is the ‘why.’ Someone is selling products to start a college fund, pay medical bills, or go on vacation. The more touching the purpose behind the sales, the more sales the individual will receive.

If you are a business coach, it is critical to set yourself apart from others within your space. Having a well-developed ‘why’ — e.g. you want to empower female business owners or help driven start-ups — will connect you with your potential clients.

It’s all about the ‘why.’

So, do you have a ‘why?’ What is it?