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.

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