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!

What to Do on LinkedIn When You Have Little Time for LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an untapped resource for many entrepreneurs … how do you know if you’re leaving something on the table? It’s a question I’m asked time and time again. Let’s get started by gauging the value the platform has to offer you and your business.

Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Are you business-to-business or business-to-consumer? If you are business-to-business, LinkedIn is a must. If you are business-to-consumer, you can still leverage the platform to network, generate media coverage, or – in some cases – generate business.
  2. Is your industry active on LinkedIn? Individuals in some industries use LinkedIn as a critical business tool. Those in other industries have a profile, but rarely use it. If you are in an industry that regularly uses the platform, you should engage on LinkedIn in some capacity.

Businesses should map out a plan before engaging on any social media platform, especially LinkedIn. I’ve heard too many entrepreneurs say things like,

“I’m on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram because I thought I was supposed to be …”

Many of those same entrepreneurs are so strapped for time, the last thing they think about doing each day is engaging on social media. I’ve learned this is especially true of LinkedIn.

Have you found yourself uttering any of these statements?

“I have a profile, but have no idea what to do with it.”

“I plugged in my resume to LinkedIn … is that right?”

“I get a ton of requests, but don’t do anything with them because I don’t want to get a bunch of solicitations.”

“I want to learn more about LinkedIn, but have no time.”

If any of these are you, today is your lucky day! I am going to spell out the three things you should do if you:

  • have no idea what to do on LinkedIn
  • have no time to even think about LinkedIn, let alone the time to log in and engage with someone on LinkedIn

Alright, let’s get started!

1. Determine your LinkedIn purpose

Before you do anything, you need to pinpoint what LinkedIn can do for you and your business. If you conclude the benefit of LinkedIn isn’t worth your time, you can move on to something else. On the other hand, you may realize LinkedIn is a huge untapped resource.

Ask yourself these two questions:

1. What is the best thing that can happen as a result of using LinkedIn?

Think pie-in-the-sky. Perhaps you want to …

  • be featured on a major news outlet
  • get a big-time freelance writing gig
  • connect with one of the biggest influencers in your industry and schedule a networking call
  • land your dream client

2. How do you achieve that “best thing?”

Let’s say your purpose is to land your dream client. What steps would or could lead up to that? Do you reach out cold? Comment on his or her posts or articles? Offer a free trial for your product or service?

If you’re looking to be featured on a major news outlet, you probably start by writing or producing your own original content and then reaching out to media.

No matter your goal, lay out the exact step-by-step process that will result in achieving your LinkedIn purpose.

2. Optimize your headline and current experience

Once you’ve determined your LinkedIn goal, you can gear your profile toward it. The most important sections of your profile are your headline and current experience. You want both to reflect your purpose or strength and include keywords.

Think about the people you want to notice you. What do you want them to know? Put that in your headline.

If it’s possible someone would search for your services, what would they search? Make sure those words or phrases are included in your current experience section. The tone of what you say will be dependent on your personality and industry, but the overall goal is to sell yourself through your profile.

3. Execute or hire based on the potential benefit

This is where the time factor comes in.

If you go through steps one and two and recognize a benefit to using LinkedIn, you’ll want to make sure you invest some time or hire someone to invest time on your behalf.

What does “investing time” in LinkedIn look like?

Engage in the following steps, starting with the first item and adding subsequent steps as you can:

  1. Make relevant connections. LinkedIn is a Rolodex of business value — don’t let it fall by the wayside! At the very least, connect with relevant people and build a quality network.
  2. Like or comment on posts. The more you like or comment on posts, the more users see your headline and, hopefully, click on your profile.
  3. Share relevant content. One step further than liking or commenting on other people’s posts or content is to post yourself. Share content helpful to your target audience that accurately represents you as a professional.
  4. Go premium. If there is money to be had through LinkedIn, you probably want to invest in a premium account. There are five different types of premium accounts: Premium Career, Sales Navigator, Recruiter Lite, Premium Business, and LinkedIn Learning. Each provides a unique set of benefits – you can “see who’s viewed your profile,” InMail individuals who aren’t connections, and do some serious prospecting through Sales Navigator.

If you see a significant benefit to using LinkedIn but don’t have time to do it yourself, you can always hire someone to do it for you. Helping clients engage and convert leads on LinkedIn is one of my favorite things to do!

There are plenty of options to get started with me, including a strategy session to learn more about how you can leverage your brand, LinkedIn profile optimization, or a strategy audit to receive specific steps to grow your online presence.

I’m looking forward to your comments below and emails to chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com!

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!

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!

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?

GENERATING LINKEDIN LEADS

Generating LinkedIn Leads: Paid Ads vs. Content and Engagement

After optimizing your LinkedIn personal profile for inbound marketing, where do you go from there? Regardless of the option you choose, it’s important to know there will always be an associated cost.

If you choose paid advertising, you’ll be paying LinkedIn directly. If you go the organic route, you’ll either be paying a consultant to engage on your behalf, or you’ll be investing your own time.

The moral of the story: you get out of lead generation what you put into it!

Paid LinkedIn Advertising

While this seems like the easiest — most direct — plan of action, leveraging paid advertising on LinkedIn can result in a great deal of frustration if you aren’t sure what you’re doing.

LinkedIn offers a few paid advertising options, but I’m only going to focus on two: Sponsored Content and Sponsored InMail. Other options — text, dynamic, and display ads — are all located on the right rail and aren’t ideal for service-based businesses to generate engagement, in my opinion.

Sponsored Content:

With this option, you are paying for a spot in the LinkedIn news feed. You can pay to have one of your existing posts sponsored or you can create a post from scratch.

  • PROS: You are gaining exposure to your specific target audience through the news feed. This is especially helpful if you target individuals based on their title, business type, or location.
  • CONS: Compared to Facebook, which provides substantial results as low as $5 per day ($0.30 – $0.50 per click, ideally), LinkedIn clicks tend to run $5 each. To run a CPM ad (cost per impression) means you’re paying for every single view, which can also get pricey if you aren’t generating results.

Sponsored InMail:

With this option, you are gaining access to inboxes of your target audience, creating an email message that LinkedIn distributes.

  • PROS: You can personally invite individuals within your target audience to an online or in-person event, to download promotional content, or to engage in a demo.
  • CONS: You are invading the personal space of people you don’t know. I am an advocate of nurturing online relationships instead of slapping people across the face with an ask, which is why I am not a fan of this type of promotion. There are those who make it work, however!

My advice: if you are going to go the paid advertising route on LinkedIn, go in with a very specific objective, such as promoting a downloadable item in exchange for contact information. If you don’t, you will probably end up with a big bill and a lot of frustration.

Content and Engagement

My method of choice on LinkedIn is content and engagement. Write articles or post videos to showcase expertise and draw attention to your brand. You can also engage with others to increase visibility.

As I mentioned before, the cost associated with this is the consultant you pay or the time you invest. Premium consultants should be able to do all of this with little input from you. Those who charge less will more than likely need a greater investment of your time to ensure what you’re publishing is truly “you.”

A step-by-step process in engagement:

  1. Get your LinkedIn profile ready to be seen. Create a great headline, optimize for keywords, add multimedia, and make sure it’s readable. Dig deeper into this here.
  2. Like, comment, and share content of relevant individuals. The hope is that your headline and profile catches the attention of those individuals and they may reach out to learn more about what you provide.
  3. Strike up conversations. Search for individuals within your target audience and reach out to connect. Add a personal note mentioning why you’d like to talk further. If they accept, thank them, and don’t pitch! Take note of their name to follow up or mark them as a lead in Sales Navigator, a great tool ($79.99 per month).
  4. Generate quality content. Write blogs, post videos, or share relevant articles. You want everything to appeal to your target audience while showcasing that you are a great source of information and that you have great expertise.

No matter the option you choose, you will truly get out of lead generation what you put into it. Conduct research around what will work best for you — paid advertising, hiring a consultant, or engaging on your own — and then focus on it to the best of your ability!

generating leads on social media

Is Your Social Media Audience Ready to Buy From You?

Last week I wrote about not getting discouraged when your social media campaign doesn’t generate leads right away. Today I’m going to dig deeper into the reasons why.

Before we continue, however, please know that the foundation of my business is to help others with a proven product or service generate leads through building credibility and trust. If a business doesn’t have a proven product or service, this process is far more complex with plenty of additional elements. When a business has already established itself as viable, finding success online is just a matter of time (though there are always exceptions).

If a business with a viable product or service comes to me looking to generate leads online, there are specific questions I will ask (in a specific order) to determine where we start the project and how long it will take. With every “yes” answer, the timeline for generating leads gets shorter.

1. Do you have an online audience?

If yes, move on to question two.

If no, you will — without a doubt — be looking at months before you are generating leads online. Building an online audience isn’t a simple process because there are so many factors involved. Here are a few questions highlighting those factors:

  • On which social media platform(s) does your audience spend the most time? Which makes the most sense for you to try and engage them?
  • What are the best ways to attract your audience to your page or profile?
  • Are there specific segments of your target audience we should focus on in the online space? In other words, does only a portion of your overall audience actually spend time on social media?

Some brands can build online audiences at lightning speed. Others build them at a slow crawl. It depends on what is being sold and the personality of the target audience (yes, entire groups of people have a “personality”).

Sometimes the platform to focus on is obvious. Other times, I will select two or three to test and see which moves the fastest. Then we put all of our strategy eggs into that basket.

2. Is your online audience engaged?

If yes, move on to question three.

If no, this may be an extremely difficult hurdle to clear, because it could take your online marketing strategy back to square one. Why? Because a huge online audience — even tens of thousands of followers — is useless if it’s made up of the wrong people.

Even if your audience is made up of the right people, we still have a problem if they aren’t engaged. What does it mean to be engaged? An engaged audience cares about the content you’re putting out. They like, retweet, share, comment and/or click through to what you publish. An engaged audience means you have individuals that care about you and your brand.

This is online lead generation gold.

If you don’t have an engaged audience, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be generating leads right away. Determining the best way to engage an audience — and then making it happen — takes time and testing.

Here’s why:

  • Each social media platform engages its users in a different way. The same person may follow you on Twitter and Facebook, but only engage with your brand on Twitter. This is because each platform is appealing for different reasons – Twitter tends to be a networking tool or news blotter; Facebook is more about developing content your followers can identify with.
  • You may have to overcome platform obstacles to reach your audience. If your audience spends the most time on Facebook, you will have to get through that platform’s lack of organic reach (and probably leverage paid ads). If your audience spends time on Twitter or Instagram, you may have to increase your followers to give yourself more credibility.
  • You must determine how your audience wants your content. Maybe your audience prefers Instagram videos to photos. Maybe they like it when you hold Q&As on Facebook LIVE. This can be one of the more difficult variables to nail down because it can take weeks to determine whether a particular type of content is going to stick.
  • You have to find the right formula. I oversee all communications for a high profile nonprofit that requires a regular switch in the tone of social media content. The nonprofit raises funds and awareness for a type of pediatric brain tumor that has a zero percent survival rate. If we only posted heavy, emotional content, we would burn out our audience. We rotate between research statistics, emotional stories, and lighthearted videos of the family to keep things fresh.

3. Will your engaged audience buy immediately?

If yes, celebrate (yay!) and then move on to question four.

If no, let the content planning begin. I typically work with businesses or professionals that do not have an audience that will buy immediately, primarily because I work with service-based businesses. Typically, there is an interim step in there, such as entering an email address for follow-up or reaching out for a demonstration of your service.

This process of moving an audience from followers to buyers will look different for each business. I caution you not to compare yourself to another business and think, “That’s how I need to be doing it.” It all comes down to who you are and who your audience is. As you’ve learned from the first two questions, audiences are complex!

There are a number of ways your audience may move from follower to buyer:

  • Signing up for an email list. This is the method shouted from the rooftops as the “standard” for lead generation — building an email list. While I recognize the power of an email list, it may not be your primary method of lead generation. I, for one, have a very personal way of generating leads that doesn’t include collecting email addresses. I tend to make personal reach-outs and connect with individuals online to generate interest. This is a skill not everyone has.
  • Requesting a free trial. Some businesses have such great success that they offer a free trial knowing they will convert a certain percentage who opt in. If this is the case, generating online leads tends to be fairly easy … people respond to results.
  • Engaging with your content. If you are an expert in your field, putting out high quality content will build your credibility with your audience. You may include a call to action within that content that includes a free trial or discount toward your services … or you may just have such a high level of expertise that you know individuals will reach out after reading or watching your content.
  • Building a relationship with you. As I said before, I generate leads through engaging with people online. You may have that same ability and, therefore, reach out to potential leads through a service such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator. If this is the case, your content will act as a support in that process.

4. How do you maintain your process?

Congratulations! If you’re answering this question, it means you’re generating leads … now it’s just a matter of maintenance!

This typically includes regular content, social media posts, and emails to your list (if you have one). Depending on your funnel, you may have social media ads in place. The key is to keep everything going so you are always in front of your audience … you don’t want them to forget about you!

I hope this has helped you understand why generating leads on social media is frequently a 3-6 month process. It all depends on where you are in terms of your online audience and then how long it takes to get them to buy.

And always keep in mind … no two businesses are alike!

LinkedIn help

Don’t Make This Mistake When Writing Your LinkedIn Profile

There are a number of factors to consider when writing your LinkedIn profile: target audience, search engine optimization (SEO), and call to action to name a few. After all, you’re looking to convince users (target audience) to buy from you (call to action) and you want to be found (SEO).

But even when everything is written well, there is one critical mistake made over and over again that can greatly decrease your chances of generating leads on LinkedIn.

And that mistake is … Readability.

You can write the greatest sales copy of the century, but fail miserably if it is thrown into one gigantic paragraph. The average human attention span is eight seconds, which means you have the blink of an eye to make a great first impression. You better have a profile that is easy to digest or you’ll lose the audience you’re working so hard for.

This is especially challenging within a LinkedIn profile because the platform doesn’t allow for formatted text (e.g. bold, italics, font size). You have to get creative to make your profile stand out, but the first step is making sure it’s readable.

Here are some of my suggestions:

Paragraphs

I am a huge advocate of breaking up text into paragraphs. There is nothing worse than trying to read something that is a giant word wall.

Now, I get that paragraph length is a personal preference and that mine tend to be on the shorter side. But in this age of short attention spans, I want to keep eyes moving. To me, structuring paragraphs within a profile is an art form that can make all the difference between someone getting lost in your copy to feeling lost reading your copy.

Lists

Lists are another great way to keep eyes moving through your copy, and you can work them in to just about any section of your profile. Take a look at what you’re writing and if there are sentences structured with commas (i.e. “I am talented in item A, item B, and item C”), consider breaking those items up into a list.

You will have to use symbols as bullet points since LinkedIn doesn’t allow for formatted text within its profile sections, but you can get creative with what you choose. Visit websites like copypastecharacter.com to find symbols for your profile.

Subheads

Since you can’t add HTML to your profile you won’t get the SEO benefits of subheads, but you will break up your text and draw attention to key points within your profile. To see the power of this effect, take a look at my LinkedIn profile.

By capitalizing all words and using symbols before and after those words, the subheads within these profile sections stand out. Not only is your eye drawn to those sections, you’ll find yourself reading them. This technique is a tool to better communicate what you and your profile are all about!

Symbols

I’ve already mentioned symbols in two of the other sections because they are critical within LinkedIn profiles. When you use symbols, it successfully breaks up text and draws attention to key points.

Now, I recognize that symbols are fun and it’s easy to get carried away. Make sure you pick professional icons that look good together!

Final Thoughts on Formatting

Readability is critical for a successful profile and formatting is a key piece of that. Get creative with the way you use capitalization, symbols, spacing, and paragraphs to draw attention to what you can do for the audience you draw to your profile.

And if the entire thing sounds like too much work, take advantage of my LinkedIn Profile Development service.

Good luck!

LinkedIn Profile

Resume Or Life Story? What To Say Within Your LinkedIn Profile

Should you write your LinkedIn profile the same way you would write a resume or should you tell your life story?

Knowing what to say within your LinkedIn profile is much harder than it seems. Sit down to start your Summary or Current Experience section and you may come down with a case of writer’s block.

There are a number of factors involved when it comes to what you should say within your LinkedIn profile and how you should say it.

1. Industry

First thing’s first: what industry are you in? An investment banker isn’t going to sound the same as a film producer. A doctor may lose credibility if he or she cites a love of wine or cigar smoking within his or her profile. A freelance writer may miss out on jobs if copy is dry or uninteresting.

It’s important to look at your profile through the filter of the field you’re in. What would someone looking for your services expect to see? How can you use what you write within your profile to show off your skills or expertise?

2. Personality

Stay true to you when you’re writing your profile. Here’s what I mean: if you don’t like sharing personal information, then don’t. If you like to tell stories, tell them. You’ve reached this point in your career because of who you are — don’t shy away from then when you’re talking about yourself within your LinkedIn profile.

At the same time, you want to make sure what you say comes off the way you intend it to come off. Having another set of eyes look through what you’ve written is always a good idea, especially when you’re really looking to showcase your personality.

Something you think is funny may come off rude. Something you think is clear may come off confusing. Get a proofreader!

3. Credibility

What approach will give you the most credibility? Put yourself in the shoes of the people you’re targeting. What could they read within your profile that would lead them to feeling comfortable giving you their money? What would inspire them to want to work with you?

This is the inbound marketing process, which walks people toward wanting to work with you before you even have a conversation.

The right approach will vary by industry and individual. A sales rep, for example, would want to list numbers to show competency. Someone selling a product would want to list key features or testimonials that showcase product benefits. Know what others will want to see from you and include it within your profile.

4. Context

Take a step back from your profile and look at the big picture. Envision your target audience, or who you want to be viewing your profile. What are their key attributes? Then ask yourself these three questions:

  • Where are they coming from? In other words, how will they find your profile?
  • What must they know about you if they are going to do business with you?
  • What do you want them to do once they’ve read your profile?

These three questions will guide you through the process of understanding what you should say to your audience. If your LinkedIn profile were an experience, what would you want that experience to be like for those who visit?

You may need help or guidance when it comes to answering these questions, which is completely normal. You may not even want to write your profile! No problem.

Schedule a Strategy Call or LinkedIn Profile Optimization. We’ll have your profile representing you in no time!