Does LinkedIn have a connection request limit

Does LinkedIn Have A Connection Request Limit?

Back in the day, LinkedIn was intended to be an intranet of sorts … you were only supposed to connect with individuals you knew. Try to connect with someone “outside of your network,” and you’d get a not-so-friendly slap on the wrist.

That has changed the past two years since Microsoft purchased LinkedIn. Now, LinkedIn is meant to be a networking tool. You can reach out to individuals you don’t know personally to expand your reach – much more beneficial for business owners and job seekers!

I have based my business on this practice, helping individuals connect with relevant professionals on LinkedIn as a way to grow their businesses. I see connection requests as a great way for professionals to grow their networks while engaging in active lead generation. In my opinion, using InMail for cold reach-outs sends a warning to the recipient, which is: I’m trying to sell you something!

I generate a lot of interest with my lead generation service, but have had the same question asked multiple times over the past week:

“Does LinkedIn limit the number of connection requests you can send out?”

The answer is yes and no. There isn’t a publicized limit, but LinkedIn does pay attention to whether your connection requests are converting. In other words, if you are sending request-after-request-after-request and people aren’t accepting (or worse, they’re reporting you), your account may get flagged for spamming.

Here is what LinkedIn has to say, word-for-word:

“If you’ve sent a large number of invitations, your account may be limited from inviting more members. This is generally due to many of your invitations being rejected or ignored by the members you’ve invited. We recommend you send invitations only to people you know and trust to be part of your network, as stated in the LinkedIn User Agreement. Having only quality connections in your network greatly improves the relevance of content shown in your feed, surfaces more appropriate matches in your searches, and better guides other features to help you discover opportunities on LinkedIn.”

Does this mean you can’t send connection requests to individuals you don’t know? Absolutely not. The key is to send relevant connection requests.

What constitutes a relevant connection request in my book?

The relationship must be mutually beneficial.

This, to me, is Sales 101, but it is critical to recognize that what constitutes a mutually-beneficial relationship is always relative to the business making the request and the person receiving it. There is a spectrum of “sales asks” on LinkedIn, ranging from connecting as a way to network to connecting as a means to sell. I will use three “for instance” examples to illustrate my point.

Example 1: The direct sell

Let’s say you manufacture desks. You want to connect with furniture stores on LinkedIn to ask if they want to stock your desks in their stores. Because you know before you reach out that they have a vested interest in purchasing desks, it is a reasonable reason to connect. In fact, the person you’re reaching out to may be thrilled you did. They are on LinkedIn as part of their profession and you are connecting with them to directly benefit their job.

Example 2: The information share

You also may connect with someone outside your network to share relevant information. If you are a financial advisor specializing in real estate, you may send connect requests to real estate professionals on LinkedIn with a note letting them know you publish articles they may find relevant to their business. This helps them by providing them with information and helps you by expanding your reach.

Example 3: The survey request

It is reasonable to connect on LinkedIn as a way to increase knowledge of your target audience. If you are a business coach, perhaps you send connection requests asking individuals what they look for in a business coach or how they find their business coaches.

With all three of these examples, though, one thing is critically important:

The note you include should be truthful.

Whether you’re looking to sell directly, share information, or request information, be honest about what you want. There is nothing worse on LinkedIn (or sales, for that matter) than a bait-and-switch. Don’t tell someone you want to learn from them only to send them a hard pitch 48 hours later.

Approach your LinkedIn strategy realistically and truthfully, knowing what you want to get out of your cold reach-out strategy and staying true to that goal.

Finally, know that every single professional and industry is unique. You may work in a field made up of people who hate to be solicited. That happens. If that’s the case, go with a networking strategy for connection requests and use InMail for your sales pitches.

The point is that no two situations are identical and it’s critical to approach your situation as a unique one. Know yourself and your audience and stay true to both. That is the best way to be successful on LinkedIn and to avoid being flagged as a spammer!

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

Guilt entrepreneurs

Let’s Let Go of Guilt As Entrepreneurs

Dare I say that many of us became entrepreneurs for the flexibility. So we could dictate our own professional lives and not have to answer to anyone.

Why, then, do we continue serving a boss that isn’t there?

It’s been my experience since I left my job with the Detroit Lions in 2014. I’ve struggled to let go to the “9-5 grind,” even though there is no one pressuring me to hold onto it.

Today my 3-year-old daughter had to stay home from school. My tendency when that has happened in the past is to continue with my day as though nothing is different, pushing my kids (I have three of them) toward the television while I pound out deliverables.

Envision me at my computer while my kids scream from the other room that they’re hungry or bored. I get up to attend to the request and then sit right back down to continue with work.

That isn’t happening today.

Today, I’ve embraced my daughter being home with me and have paid attention to her. We’ve played Candy Land, gone to the park, and ate lunch together. We spent an hour in our family’s upstairs playroom – her playing and dancing to music while I worked at our art table.

Now I’ve sat down to write this story while she is in the living room watching Disney Junior. Once I’m finished with my story, we have a date to play Mario Kart.

This is worlds apart from how I’ve behaved in the past and I’m glad to have a different perspective now.

How has my perspective changed?

I think we are raised in a culture that sees stress as a badge of honor. If we are too busy to do fun things, we must be doing something right. For early entrepreneurs or business owners — especially women — this can result in massive amounts of confusion.

  • Instead of working on our businesses (the fun stuff!), we spend all of our time focused on client businesses. This hurts our ability to grow.
  • We eat standing up or in front of the computer, searching for whatever we can find in the cupboards or refrigerator. The message in our minds? Get back to work!
  • We feel guilty not working while the rest of the world is. If others are in an office, we should be, too … right? Not necessarily. A benefit of being a business owner is that we get to make our own schedules and we need to own that.

It has taken me a long time to get to the mindset I’ve had today: enjoy the day with my 3-year old while I can, balancing work with play. Does that mean I’ve skirted my responsibilities as a business owner? Nope. My husband will be staying home with her tomorrow so I can focus on my work.

Today, however, it’s take-my-daughter-to-work day.

Work just happens to be at home.

business lessons

This Is What My High School Track Career Taught Me About Business

When I was in the 7th grade, I joined the track team.

I wasn’t given an event for our first meet until another girl dropped out. My coach asked if I wanted to take her place in the 1,600-meter relay and I agreed.

The gun sounded and I just ran. I had no idea what I was doing. I finished the lap, handed off the baton, and moved to the side. My coach was elated.

Apparently I had done well.

One day at practice, my coach suggested I run the 800 meters to improve my time in the 400. I don’t remember what my time was (on a gravel track, no less), but I do remember my coach going crazy with his stopwatch, telling me I had to run that race.

So I did.

For the remainder of my middle school career, the 800 meter run was my race. Schools ran boys and girls together and I would beat everyone, every single time. My best time was a 2:32 (yes, I still remember) and the feeling of being so good at something was an absolute high.

I had struggled with bullying throughout my middle school life, but once I became a “track star,” that changed. Others respected me. I had talent.

My high school track career didn’t start out as great as I wanted it to. Instead of running my two best races, the 400 meters and the 800 meters, I was given the mile, a race I wasn’t as good at. I still remember having to run in the top heat in an invitational and struggling not to finish last. I hated having to run that race and it wore on me.

The sport itself was fun, though. I made wonderful friendships. I learned how to play Euchre during the long invitational days, spending time with the upperclassmen I genuinely got along with. The girls’ team won our league that year, meaning we moved up a level our sophomore year. That separated us from the boys’ team and we began traveling separately.

business lessons

We won our league meet when I was a freshman.

In addition to that change, I gained weight my sophomore year and my times suffered. Combined with not being able to spend time with my male friends and competing against more talented individuals, my love for the sport declined. Running had always been a painful endeavor. The 800-meter run is no joke. It’s nearly a sprint (at the highest level, it is a sprint) for a half mile. It hurts.

As soon as the overall experience stopped being fun and I wasn’t getting the payoff of winning, my motivation waned. I hated practice. Hated the meets. My anxiety level around running rose.

I made the decision to quit after my sophomore year. It was a difficult choice to make – it had become an identity for me. It was what I was good at. But the sacrifices outweighed the reward. My parents were crushed. They loved seeing their daughter excel at something and walking away early was a tough pill for them to swallow.

Now, almost 36 years old with three kids of my own, I look back on my decision to quit with mixed emotions. I know it was the best decision at the time, but I do wish circumstances had been different.

I wish that I had been able to find fun in those days and that my stress levels hadn’t resulted in weight gain that hurt my performance. I’m actually in better shape now, post-kids (I have a better diet and a regular yoga practice) than I was my sophomore year of high school, which creates regret that I didn’t keep myself in better shape to capitalize on my talent. Who knows? Maybe I could have run in college.

Ah, what could have been.

Looking back on this experience provides a valuable case study that pertains to business, however. There are three things I can pull from my track career that apply to my life as an entrepreneur:

1. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The yoga I practice is hot vinyasa, which challenges me every single session, pushing me out of my comfort zone. It is so easy to let my mind talk me out of staying in a pose while my body is on fire, especially since no one is forcing me to stay.

But the benefit of learning how to shut my mind voice off and find a way to be calm in an uncomfortable situation translates to all areas of my life.

Finding a way to be comfortable in the uncomfortable means I can push through projects I don’t want to do, engage respectfully with people who aren’t the friendliest, and continuing doing things for my business that don’t have an immediate payoff.

2. Find a Payoff

Speaking of an immediate payoff, it’s important to have at least one. As the things I loved about track fell off, one-by-one, enduring the pain of running became less and less tolerable.

This is true in business as well. So many entrepreneurs push way further than they should without allowing themselves something fun or gratifying from their businesses.

This results in burn-out.

Mike Michalowicz talks about this in his book, Profit First. He suggests putting a small percentage of earnings (as low as 1%) in a “profit account” each month and then spending it on yourself at the end of the quarter.

This improves morale because it means the business is working for the entrepreneur. It is critical to receive a payoff for all of our hard work, even if it’s a new outfit or a night at the movies.

3. Do What You’re Good At

Winning was an amazing feeling … even when it hurt like hell. Why? Because I was good at it!

Focusing on what we’re good at keeps us in flow. Even if it’s boring (or it hurts), doing what we’re good at has a special sort of payoff. In business, it pays with money and confidence.

So often we focus on bettering ourselves in areas we aren’t good at while avoiding what comes easy. In fact, for a long time, I felt guilty charging for what came easy to me.

The truth, however, is what comes easy for one person doesn’t come easy for most, which is why we should actually be charge more for what comes easy to us!

Left in the Past

I still run in the spring, summer, and fall months (you won’t find me running in the snow or freezing cold), pushing myself to get better.

I have found a “happy place” with running, averaging 3-to-5 miles at a time and listening to my favorite podcasts or audiobooks during my runs. I used to run with my kids in jogging strollers.

I time myself from time-to-time, getting “competitive” to prove to myself I still have talent. I do, but I haven’t run competitively since I hung up my cleats in high school. I’m afraid that I’ll push myself to the point of massive pain in an effort to win, and I’m not up for doing that just yet.

Maybe in another 10 years.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a LinkedIn specialist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

What’s the Proper Etiquette for Prospecting on LinkedIn?

Do you know LinkedIn could be a big lead driver for your business, but aren’t sure how to get started? Have you “tried a few things” but aren’t sure whether you’re headed in the right direction? I recognize a lot of people are in that spot, so I asked my network to post their LinkedIn questions.

I hope they help you as well – please post additional questions in the comments section if yours isn’t addressed!

Q: After I’ve made a new connection and introduced myself, what’s the etiquette for following up? Is it simply a question of commenting on their posts and articles or should I be doing more?

There is a spectrum of ways to follow up, depending on your lead generation strategy. If you are reaching out to schedule a discovery call, you will want to follow up to ask if the person is willing and available for that call. If, on the other hand, you are nurturing long-term relationships, you can just follow up with a thank you. Try to avoid overwhelming the person with an immediate, “Here’s my free download!” or “Join my email list!”

I do recommend keeping track of these people in a spreadsheet, though, so you can follow up later with relevant content. Let’s say you design websites and your target audience includes marketers looking for website help for their new or existing clients. If you write an article about website design best practices, you can share it with a potential lead with a note of, “Hey XX! I just wrote this article and think it might be relevant to you or your audience. If you like it, I would love it if you could share it!”

This way, you’re not only helping the potential lead, you’re getting your content out there to another relevant network and it’s a soft ask. In my opinion, this is a win-win-win.

Q: In your pro opinion, when does it make sense to use premium levels of LinkedIn (ie. Sales Navigator) for lead gen?

Look at whether you intend this to be a primary way you generate leads. If you have another source of steady leads, you may simply want to browse through LinkedIn to find relevant connections and track your outreach through a spreadsheet.

If you want this to be a more robust way of generating leads, however, you’ll want to pay for the premium service because it allows you to track leads and easily engage with them, whether you’re connected or not.

You can look at the value of a lead vs. the cost of the service, but I would wager that anyone looking to generate leads on LinkedIn has a client value above $79.99 (the cost of Sales Navigator). Many people won’t see a return for months, though, because it’s a nurturing process, so looking at whether this will be a primary source or leads is the important thing.

Q: What is the proper etiquette (for lack of a better word) for prospecting on LinkedIn?

Connecting on LinkedIn should always be about a mutually-beneficial relationship. If you reach out to someone, do so with the intention of creating a relationship that will benefit both parties instead of reaching out with, “buy from me!”

The exception is if you can tell without reaching out that the people you’re reaching out to already need what you’re selling.

For example, you’re selling doorknobs and you’re reaching out to door companies. They need doorknobs. You don’t have to ask if they need doorknobs — there is a clear need. It’s easy to reach out and say, “Hi, Door Company! I’m reaching out to see if you are in need of a new doorknob vendor. Our product is superior because A, B, C.”

Note, though, that even when you are reaching out with “buy from me” it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Door Company needs doorknobs. You need to sell your doorknobs. It’s a win-win.

Q: Isn’t that the best way to “sell” anyway? Through engagement and connection and the sales will follow.

Yes, it is, but there are two things here.

  1. People don’t actually do that. There is some bad “selling” going around. I’d wager everyone reading this has been on the receiving end of bad selling.
  2. Relationship building is more important on LinkedIn, because you know who you’re talking to when you reach out. It’s easy to completely ruin a potential relationship from the beginning if you don’t have the proper tone as it pertains to your audience.

If you advertise on Facebook, Twitter, Google ads, or you have a content marketing plan on your website, you can see traffic, but not who is looking at your content. This is the one platform where you see who is looking at your content or messages AND who they are as a professional.

Q: I’ve wanted to start posting articles to LinkedIn, but, wasn’t sure if they needed to be written ‘differently’ than how they are on my blog… can they be re-purposed word for word, or, is that frowned upon?

Totally not frowned upon. The question is whether you are writing for the same audience in both spaces. I am working with someone who owns her own nonprofit school. On Facebook and with her website blog, she is speaking to the parents of current and potential students.

On LinkedIn, however, she is speaking to other businesses with the hope of garnering donations and interest from local entrepreneurs willing to mentor her students (her school engages in personalized learning with many hands-on, real-world experiences).

With her blogs, we can tweak the same message to make sense for the business audience compared to her parent audience.

Q: What’s your best tip for someone starting out with cold outreach for lead gen using LinkedIn?

Check your business for these two things before you create your marketing plan:

  1. Is your audience on and using LinkedIn? If they aren’t, you’re not going to get very far.
  2. How will your audience want to be sold to? Will they need to be nurtured along with multiple touch-points or can they be asked, point-blank, whether they want your product or service?

Q: What are your thoughts on thanking new connections? If yes, how do you do it tactfully?

I think it is important to be truthful and non-intrusive at the same time. I will often say things like, “Thank you for connecting – please let me know if any LinkedIn needs come up!” or “I’m excited to connect – I look forward to learning more about your business!”

When I am executing LinkedIn on behalf of a client with a more straightforward ask, I will follow up by asking if they are open to a discovery call and whether they have availability. The most important thing is to be a real human and not a sales robot. Stay true to yourself and your business while holding a real conversation.

People can often see through a “plan” being executed to a tee vs. someone having a real conversation. It’s why I manually work lead gen on behalf of my clients, I don’t automate the process. When I type in a response, it comes across as a conversation instead of a copied-and-pasted response.

Q: What is the most important thing to optimize on my profile before starting to reach out and connect to potential clients and collaborators?

Look at your profile as your own personal sales page. The same way you would optimize a sales page before launching a new product, you do for your LinkedIn profile. The three most important components to doing that are:

  1. Headline
  2. Current experience
  3. Summary

If you expect your audience to search for what you’re providing, embedding keywords would be at the top of the list as well.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

Are You Leaving Money on the Table By Not Using LinkedIn?

LinkedIn could be a gold mine for you and your business, especially if you are business-to-business and offer premium services. Unlike other social networks, LinkedIn provides the ability to talk to the decision-makers of businesses you are targeting. What’s more, people are on LinkedIn to talk business. You don’t get that with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

How do you know if you’re leaving money on the table? Ask yourself these three questions:

1. Is my LinkedIn profile optimized?

If you have a half-filled-out profile, you are leaving money on the table. Period.

Your LinkedIn profile should serve as a lead page for you and your business. It should follow inbound marketing practices and include specific keywords related to your business. A friend and business associate of mine, Maggie Patterson of Scoop Industries, told me that following my advice to add keywords to her profile resulted in significantly more attention to her profile.

It makes a difference.

Additionally, having a profile that guides curious individuals through your initial sales process will be the difference between them reaching out with an inquiry and clicking away to something else.

2. Does my business offer premium services?

Let me put it to you this way: if you stand to make thousands off of a single conversion, you can’t afford not to invest in LinkedIn for your business. Nowhere else in social media marketing can you achieve what you can with personal, one-to-one reach-outs on LinkedIn – a platform created to talk business.

I am working with one client that needed just two conversions over the course of a year to consider the work put into LinkedIn a success. We achieved that in less than two months. If your business offers a premium service, the pressure to convert immediately goes away, resulting in a much higher likelihood of conversion.

Why is that? People are more likely to buy from those not pressuring them to buy. It’s that simple.

3. Is my sales team struggling with cold calls?

If you have a sales team cold-calling with little success, consider optimizing their profiles and conducting reach-outs on LinkedIn. It is a less intrusive process than cold-calling, allowing the potential lead to consider the conversation and respond on his or her own time.

The key is to reach out with the intention of setting up a discovery call. Don’t reach out and provide a link to buy. Instead, work to spark a respectful conversation with potential leads.

If you don’t want to invest in LinkedIn profile optimization for sales team members that might leave your business, invest in optimizing your own profile and pay for a business summary. That way, your sales team can add the business summary to their profiles and personalize their full profiles to their own liking.

Another option is to have members of your sales team conduct reach-outs with a higher-level executive’s profile. Often times, the weight of an influencer will generate more interest, especially when combined with a solid content strategy.

So … how did you do?

Are you leaving money on the table? That’s actually great news!

For a couple thousand dollars per month, your business could conduct regular, personal reach-outs to your target audience. If you are interested in developing a strategy like this, take a look at my B2B LinkedIn Lead Generation page and reach out for more information.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

This Is How Engaging With Peers Can Help Your Business

This evening I was dropped off at the airport by my husband and three young kids – they are 7, 5, and 3. All three kids protested my departure.

“Why do you have to go, Mommy?” asked my 7-year-old.

Total knife to the heart. But I explained to her that, “Growing my business is important and it’s something I love to do. I don’t have to go, but I choose to go.”

I took my Polaroid photo of me and the three youngsters and entered the airport, headed for Orlando.

The truth is, intensive work on my business has to be a priority if I want it to thrive, and the same is true of any business. As entrepreneurs, if we focus all of our time and attention on our clients, we aren’t nurturing the business that is, in turn, servicing those clients.

The last time I went to an event like this was in October when I attended BizChix Live, Natalie Eckdahl’s event. The content was spectacular, but the biggest takeaway for me was perspective, something every entrepreneur should strive for.

As much as we know our own businesses inside and out, there is a difference between what we believe people should want and what they actually want. The former can be idealistic; the latter is a true look at behavior.

I will work the next few days with Maggie PattersonBrittany Becher, and the rest of the mastermind to gain as much perspective as I can on two specific things:

1. What does my audience need to hear?

I learned this early in my career when talking to my peers. They wanted to know more about LinkedIn. When I asked what they wanted to know about LinkedIn, they simply said, “What should I put in my profile?”

I walked them through my process in a 2-3-minute video to rave reviews. They told me what I said was incredibly valuable, which surprised me. Sure, I had good things to say, but I didn’t think it was that good.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the phenomenon called being an expert. When we know more than the average person about a particular subject, we can lose what the average person wants to hear about that subject because we are knee-deep in it.

2. What makes me valuable?

This isn’t a question rooted in insecurity but, again, in perspective. Just as our expertise can blind us to the simple things our audience wants to hear, the things that come naturally to us are probably what our clients love about us the most.

My ability to look at someone’s business and create short- and long-term marketing strategies is unique to me, but it’s tough to recognize that because I spend time with me all the time! In other words, it is difficult for us to recognize our own strengths for what they are because they come natural to us.

Allowing others to reflect this skill back to me is critical to really seeing my value and marketing business. Knowing this value is critical to marketing my business and generating leads.

A Fresh Perspective

Even if you have adorable kiddos begging to to stay home, it’s important to get out and explore your own business strategy with your peers.

Allow others to take a look at you and your business and reflect back to you what’s working, what’s not, and how you can move forward to grow your business in the best way possible.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

Michigan basketball

This is Why Winning Isn’t Everything

I remember getting the call. I was confused. My husband was supposed to be in the air with the Michigan Basketball team on the way to Washington D.C. for the Big Ten Tournament.

I picked up the phone.

The wind howled in the background. He was emotional. He told me their plane nearly crashed, stopped just short of a ravine. He and the team had to exit the plane through the emergency exits, but everyone was alright. He had to go, but he loved me so much.

Complete and total shock.

My husband came home for the night, leaving first thing in the morning on a new plane with new luggage (his was trapped under the plane with the rest of the team equipment). Families wouldn’t be taking the new flight, so all of us watched from home as the team took the floor in their practice jerseys.

I said to myself, they are either going to be one-and-done, or they’re going to win it all.

They played like they were going to win it all.

As soon as I saw that win, I knew we had to get to Washington D.C. I called around and learned there would be a bus departing with staff families who wanted to go. I made sure my family was on that bus.

We took a 13-hour, overnight bus trip to Washington D.C. My kids were 6, 4, and 2. The trip was amazing. We made memories as we caught cabs, went to museums, and watched the Wolverines win three more games. They won the tournament, becoming the lowest seed in tournament history to win it all.

Fast forward a year. The Big Ten Tournament was being held in New York City. Remembering the amazing run of a year before, I wanted to take my kids, but it wasn’t in the cards for our family. Instead, my husband and I decided that – if we made the championship – I would fly out on my own.

We made the championship and I woke up at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning to take the only flight available to New York City that would get me to the game in time. We won and I had the pleasure of being there to watch the team cut down the nets.

Next was the NCAA tournament.

I was on a yoga retreat for the first two rounds without a television in my room, so I watched the games on my iPad. I casually watched the first game and the majority of the second, readying myself to accept defeat as time wound down against Houston.

Then Jordan Poole hit that magical shot as the buzzer sounded, taking laps around the court. Michigan was in the Sweet 16.

I watched the next two games from home, my husband in LA with the team. The strong showing against Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 meant one game stood between Michigan and the Final Four.

I couldn’t believe it.

The 2013 Run

The last time the Wolverines were in the Final Four, it was a magical year. Future NBA draft picks Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Nick Stauskas, and Mitch McGary were all part of the team. My kids were 2 and 10 months old. I made the trip to Atlanta while my aunt stayed home with my kids.

Michigan dominated the first half, led by bench player Spike Albrecht, who scored 17. I thought we had it. Then Louisville stormed back in the second half and ended up taking the win.

It hurt.

Bad.

The start of the 2013-14 season was actually tough for me. We raised the Final Four banner at Crisler Center and it brought back the disappointing ending of the previous year.

I have since talked many times about that night as being the most difficult sports loss I’d ever experienced. That’s why, after Michigan beat Florida State to earn its second Final Four appearance in six seasons, I was nervous.

“The one thing I don’t want,” I told people, “is to make it to the championship game and lose again.”

Another Fairy Tale

Michigan basketball

My family before the Michigan vs. Villanova NCAA Championship game.

I took all three of my kids to San Antonio for the Final Four. We swam in the hotel pool, went on a riverboat tour with the Michigan Basketball family, and visited Fanfest.

Winning the first game was amazing. My kids – now 7, 5, and 3 – were into it. It felt right. It felt different.

This was going to be it. I thought. We are going to win it all.

Michigan head coach John Beilein deserved this win, after all. Voted “the cleanest coach” in the NCAA, Coach Beilein is an amazing teacher, coach, and human being.

Special to me has been he and his wife, Kathleen’s, support of The ChadTough Foundation, an organization I work with. He helped us to a back-to-back $100,000 donations and invaluable awareness for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) and pediatric brain cancer research through the Infiniti Coaches Challenge.

This was going to be his moment. I knew it.

Then it wasn’t.

Michigan got off to a strong start, but Villanova took over midway through the first half and swiftly won. The loss hurt. I wanted to win so badly. For my husband, for Coach Beilein, and for the Michigan Basketball family.

I thought about how tough it must be for Coach to get so close – again – and not come away with the title.

Then I read this quote:

“Don’t worry about me,” he said. “I would love to win a national championship for those guys and for the University of Michigan. All those great students and all our alums and everyone. But for me, this is why I coach. To be in that locker room right now with these kids.

“And to have the opportunity to tell them: ‘This is life. You have highlights and then, all of a sudden, your season’s over and there’s sadness.’ But in the long run, there’s a lot of joy with what we just went through.”

The Journey

I never imagined I would learn a critical life lesson following that loss, but – somehow – Coach Beilein drove it home. It’s not about the win or the loss, it’s about the journey.

That message can, and should, be translated into every single area of life. Coach is right – this is life. Whether it’s personal or business, the trials and tribulations are what refine and grow us.

I’ve experienced it in the four years since I set out on my own to start a business. The process has been scary at times, because I didn’t want to fail my clients or myself. Little did I know, those failures were necessary.

I can talk to a client with confidence and knowledge I didn’t have two years ago because I’ve gone through those failures. I’ve seen what doesn’t work. I’ve relied on myself and doubted myself and learned that I can – and should – trust my gut.

Coach Beilein is an amazing coach because he sees beyond the game. He recognizes that preparing young people to weather life’s storms is a far bigger victory than personal accolades.

And because of that, these players had the opportunity to learn something during this NCAA tournament run that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

I know I certainly will.

ABOUT CHRISSIE WYWROT

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

4 Years After I Quit My Job, This is My Reality

This Facebook memory popped up today.

Not only did I quit my job, I quit a job sought after by many young sports enthusiasts. I loved my job, but — after 10 years — it was time to move on. I gave my two weeks’ notice and dreaded the act of leaving. Packing up my office was like moving out of my childhood home. I had been with the Lions since I was 22 years old and — in many ways — I grew up there. It was scary stuff.

What I know now …

I could say I wish I hadn’t experienced trials these last four years, but I would be lying. Without all of the twists and turns, I wouldn’t be standing on the firm foundation I’m on right now. I’ve built a business that supports my family, helped buy us a house, and provides immense fulfillment.

But that isn’t the entire story. The entire story is a lot messier and includes things I’d much rather leave out of the “fairy tale” depiction of building and sustaining a business. The mess, though, is what makes it real and what has taught me how to be successful.

Maybe your mess looks a lot like mine.

1. I was terrified.

When all you’ve known for 10 years is the structure of being told where to be, what to do, and how to perform, the sudden free-fall of owning your own business is a major shock to the system. I needed things to do and there was no one there to tell me what to do. The initial shift into this new world was a big one.

It took me awhile to figure out how to own my newfound freedom. I bought a lot of office supplies and drank a lot of coffee.

2. My first try failed.

When I left the Lions, I had a plan. One year later, that plan had completely dissolved and I was back to square one, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. If you’ve never owned your own business, here’s something you should know: it is a vulnerable, soul-searching process.

You find yourself knowing what you’re good at, but not knowing how to articulate it. It’s really humbling to price your professional worth and then ask people to pay you. Trust me, it’s not the same as asking for a raise or interviewing for a 9-5. You feel like you’re “playing job” when you first start.

Someone asks you how much your services cost and you tell them … while praying and cringing all at the same time. Then, after you’ve inevitably priced yourself way too low, you’re cursing the fact that you didn’t set your bar higher.

3. There is guilt.

As I looked to reinvent my business, I felt so much (self-inflicted) pressure and guilt. I tried to continue with what I thought I wanted to do with my business, but — though I didn’t know it then — I had to hit a professional bottom. I got to a point of feeling so guilty for draining my family’s funds that I began applying for full-time jobs.

I was awarded interview after interview, but never landed anything. It may have been because it wasn’t meant to be or because I didn’t want a full-time job … or a combination of both. But the end result was my husband looking at me and saying, “No, I think you’d be great at owning your own business!”

My guilt had blinded me to my incredible support system (and I recognize not everyone has that). After that moment — nearly two years in — I decided there was no turning back. I resolved that I would never work another 9-5.

4. Feedback is essential.

I have pivoted so many times it’s hysterical. Between being deep in my own business and hearing constant feedback from experts about what I “should” be doing, I lost my own vision in the noise.

Epiphanies happened for me when I allowed others I trusted (see one of my very close friends Danielle Liss in the picture) to reflect back to me what they saw in me. And when I say epiphanies, I mean angels were singing.

I would not be where I am today without the love and support of people I didn’t even know when I started this journey (Tara Humphrey, I’m also looking at you).

5. Success is pretty damn awesome.

I don’t think I even recognized “success” until recently. It’s definitely in the eye of the beholder but — for me — success has been the ability to support my family while being fulfilled in my work.

I am someone who has to love my job. I want to make a difference with my work, whether that’s through a nonprofit or by helping other passionate entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

It’s why — four years later, when I really look back — I can see the success. I’ve made a difference along the way and I’ve loved what I’m doing. I can also see how far I have to go, but I know it’s the journey that will shape me even further.

Entrepreneurs, see the truth below.

Embrace it, or you’ll never make it.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

Do You Want to Leverage LinkedIn for Your B2B?

I am asked a lot whether LinkedIn is the “right” tool for a B2B. My answer is almost always “it depends.” One thing that separates me from many other professionals is that I want the best for your business first, regardless of whether you choose to work with me. If LinkedIn isn’t the best option for you, I don’t want you to use it.

So, is LinkedIn the right option for you? The best way to determine that is to jump on a call with me, but here are a few cheats to try to figure it out for yourself:

Ask Yourself: “Is my audience on LinkedIn?”

It’s simple, but it’s critical. If you are targeting a group of people who don’t like LinkedIn, you may struggle with results. That’s not to say your target has to spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. I have clients who have had great success reaching out to individuals who spend little time at a computer.

The key is to look at the connections of the people you are targeting. If your ideal client has fewer than 100 connections, no headshot, and next to nothing in his or her profile, you may want to avoid LinkedIn. Again, this isn’t a dealbreaker, but it’s one thing to consider.

Ask Yourself: “Can I easily identify my target audience?”

This is a big one.

The first thing someone is going to do when you reach out is qualify whether you have a legitimate reason for reaching out. You have a split second to catch his or her attention before being written off as a spammer.

This is why people who target a specific geographic location can often have more success than those who target behaviors or industries. If you start by saying, “Hi, I’m reaching out to local businesses to ask …” you are instantly relevant. Yes, some people will still be annoyed, but it’s a far cry from reaching out with something along the lines of, “Do you need a new website?!”

If you provide bookkeeping services for influencers who have little time to focus on anything other than influencing, you have that same relevance. “Hello, I see you are a big-time influencer in your space and I would love to chat with you about the bookkeeping services I offer.”

On the other hand, if you are target people who are dissatisfied with their websites, you can’t know that without asking. That drastically increases the time and energy you will have to expend before you uncover your ideal target and it makes for a tough ask. Think about it: by approaching them, you have to assume they hate their website. And what if they are the ones that designed it?

Ask yourself: “Are those within my target audience disgruntled?”

I once worked with someone whose target audience was angry. Every fifth person I looked up had “don’t contact me or I will publicly shame you” written within their profiles. It was so stressful!

If the people you are contacting have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to cold reach-outs, there’s a good chance you’re going to fail miserably at your LinkedIn sales endeavor. You’re probably best to settle in with a nice, safe inbound marketing or SEO campaign and call it a quarter.

Ask Yourself: “Will my leads make me enough money?”

Personalized reach-outs take time, which means money. This is true whether you’re conducting them yourself or hiring me to do it — time equates to money regardless.

It’s important that what you’re selling will make you enough money to make the reach-outs worth it. This can happen in volume or value. Convert many lower-tier services a month to cover the cost of outreach or convert one high-end service a month to cover the cost – either way works.

Okay, you say. If time is money, is it better to just go with ads?

If you are selling on LinkedIn, I see one reason to leverage ads instead of personalized reach-outs and that is if your ask will insult your audience. As mentioned above, if the only way you can approach your audience is by asking whether they’re dissatisfied with their current way of doing things, ads may be a better approach.

So, what do you think? Are LinkedIn reach-outs the way to go for you? Do you have any questions? Ask them in the comments below!

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

This Kind of Lead Generation Advice Drives Me Crazy

I love lead generation. To me, it’s like a code to be cracked. I work with all types of businesses with many different goals to determine what marketing strategy and lead generation tactic will work best.

That’s why it drives me crazy when anyone touts that one type of lead generation strategy will work across the board.

I recently came across a professional on LinkedIn who made a bold statement about nurturing leads. She posted a pitch someone made and — I’ll be honest — it was a bad pitch. In response, she posted about the importance of nurturing people into becoming leads.

I agree that is a good tactic, but I don’t necessarily think it is a good tactic all the time.

Here’s why.

Let’s say you are trying to sell to Person A and Person B. Person A hates being pitched. She feels uncomfortable and irritated when anyone tries to sell to her. Person B considers her time valuable and prefers that people get to the point. If she is being sold to, she’d prefer to be asked point-blank whether she wants the product or service.

Clearly, attempting to sell the same way to both people is a bad idea. Person A needs to be nurtured. The pitch has to be disguised. Person B wants the opposite. Just cut to the chase.

Great, you say, but I can’t read people’s minds. How does this help me?

Here’s the thing: you can predict which type of person you will be pitching based on your service and target audience. If you are a vendor for hotel chains, for example, nurturing your potential leads probably isn’t necessary. You can reach out to the decision-maker or gatekeeper at the hotel with a direct, customized ask.

Research the chain and mention important business details. Maybe you recently stayed at one of their hotels and loved the service. Once you’ve written your personal note, you can simply ask, “Do you need [what I’m selling]? If you do, let’s set up a call. If not, it was great to connect!”

On the other hand, you may be an accountant for entrepreneurs. That type of relationship tends to require more nurturing. Instead of reaching out and asking someone to sign up for services, you may say, “Hey, Person B, I see you have your own business. Fantastic! I work with business owners as a CPA and would love to connect with you in the event you need help in the future. Thank you!” Then you work your inbound marketing strategy with blog posts, interviews, and other tactics.

The key here is personalization to both the business and individual. The service you are providing makes a difference and so do the people you are reaching out to.

The point is that it’s all relative, which is why I dislike professionals saying one way is the only way. It’s all about uncovering the right code and executing.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her atchrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.