When I saw the “Top Entrepreneurs in the Bay Area on LinkedIn” with my friend Jayne Brodie’s wonderful face on that list, I asked her to share her methods for doubling her network with our KIT List community. Read on!
I have actively been using LinkedIn for the last 3 months to grow my business, and have learned very quickly that making strong connections on LinkedIn is very similar to making strong and meaningful connections live.
During these past few months, I’ve doubled the size of my LinkedIn Network, increased the size of my personal sales by 18%, and made some powerful and profitable new connections; and equally important, my sales funnel is full.
Now more than ever with the holidays in full swing, it’s a great time to leverage LinkedIn as a way to solidify connections and keep in touch.
Here are My 5 Steps to Building Meaningful Connections:
- Clearly identify your target market – who are you looking for?
Before you start your search using LinkedIn, first create a profile (in Word or Excel) of your ideal connection and then list keywords to search for them. Be clear about who you’re looking for and what their key traits are…some examples would be entrepreneur, wellness coach, personal trainer, jewelry designer, whoever is a candidate for buying your services, or connecting you to someone who would buy or fill a need that you have in your organization. You can narrow this down by zip code or geographic area as well if your services are local, or go national or international if they are not.
- Look for people that are active on LinkedIn, with over 500 connections.
Since you are using this platform to network you want to find others that are doing the same. In both the laptop and mobile devices, this feature is in their profile summary at the top of their profile page.
- Create “Advanced Search” criteria to narrow your search down and find commonality with your market.
You can do this by zip code, what college you went to…any key phrase. On a laptop or desktop, this feature is located to the right of the search bar at the top of the page. (At this time, this feature is not available on mobile devices.)
Advanced Tip: You can look for multiple areas in common with connections as well which boosts response rates. Example: If you market to personal trainers, you could look for personal trainers that are also alumni of your college, have a specialty within their profession, or that share another common interest or have a really specific need you could fulfill. This gives you multiple touch points to begin your connection with. You want to show you’ve done your homework (it’s a fast process) and stand out from the crowd.
- Reach out with a personalized message about what you have in common with them and why you want to connect.
Don’t send out the standard LinkedIn connection message, and don’t pitch your services right away! Your goal is to build rapport, relationship, and create a true connection. Not everyone will respond. It’s truly a numbers game and you have to reach out to enough people to find those true connections.
Advanced Tip: When you hit the “Connect” option a drop down list will come up with options about how you know this person / why you want to connect. I always choose “friend” so LinkedIn doesn’t question that connection. Go down to the “Include a Personal Note” section and type in a personal note.
Example: With the personal trainer example we started with, here’s what I would write if I coached personal trainers and was looking for connections: “Hi Paula! I saw your profile and wanted to connect as we have so much in common. We are both alumni of XXX and I work with Personal Trainers!” That’s it! You will stand out by creating curiosity and being relevant. By going the extra mile and really creating that relationship (and interest) up front, your acceptance rate will be higher and you’re inviting a conversation right away.
- When the connection is accepted, reach back out and start a conversation.
I never say anything about myself until asked, I ask questions about them — what they do and how LinkedIn is working for them, what types of clients do they work with, or how is business going? Whatever seems most relevant to them by what they’ve put out there on their profile. Sometimes this means going back and forth five times, sometimes once. When the conversation gets going, I always take it offline with a phone call or coffee. The chat feature is amazing to start the ball rolling, but it’s not a true conversation tool. The key is to leverage it to then begin the real conversation offline.
When there is engagement after a few back and forth messages and if it’s a good match, take it offline so you can have a real conversation. The messaging component of LinkedIn has opened up so many doors, but it’s still a messaging platform. Conversation creates connection.
Top Tips to Keep The Momentum Going
- Set a time on your calendar to work LinkedIn every day.
15 minutes a day will go a long way. Make a goal to reach out to 5 new people a day and start connecting. If you can make it 30 minutes it will go that much faster. The key is consistency.
- Over time your messaging folder will be really full. Avoid the temptation to just follow up and stay in the chat feature.
To keep that sales funnel full, you must be doing two things…adding new people to it AND following up with those with whom you’ve started conversations.
- Once I started offline conversations, I moved these connections over to my regular CRM system so I could track them and keep everything systematized in terms of follow up.
The good news is you will build a lot of new connections…and make sure you have a way of tracking them that works for you.
About the Author:
Jayne Brodie is a lifelong entrepreneur. After a long and successful career owning an ad agency, she made a career change after turning 50. You can learn more about Jayne and connect with her on LinkedIn. She was able to reach the “Top Entrepreneurs in the Bay Area on LinkedIn” by the daily activity listed above and continues to leverage LinkedIn in support of her rapidly growing business, coaching women entrepreneurs on how to create residual income streams alongside their busy lives.