Sometimes I accept a connect request on LinkedIn with people I don't know but others in my network do. When this request happens, I look to see who has connected, then I go to view this person's profile to see if it is someone I may be able to refer or if they just seem interesting enough to connect with. Unlike some on LinkedIn, I don't connect to just anyone, and know most of the people I'm connected to or have talked with them since we connected.
Within ONE day of connecting with someone I'm not sure of, I can learn if I made a mistake in having made that connection.
What happens within 24 hours is that this person I connected to immediately sends me a LinkedIn message - now that we are connected. Often it begins, "Thanks SO much for connecting!" Next they proceed to go on and on about their products and services and how much they'd love to talk with me about them.
This strategy is called, "Showing up and throwing up." It is one of the worst things you can do as a seller. I'm posting this because I just got another one today, so my plan now is to simply reply to the seller-focused note with a link to this post, in hopes that they will "get" a better idea of how to build relationships on LinkedIn.
There are at least two types of prospective customers on LinkedIn -
Industry / Niche Specific
Those who are very similar to companies you have worked with already. If I'm an oil and gas company and you have cornered that market with your expertise and specific solutions for my industry - you can approach me as an expert in that market niche. You are a professional contacting a professional - with industry insight - not just products and services.
Those with a pulse and a heartbeat on LinkedIn and your desire to make anyone a customer because you are such an amazing awesome company.
Think About It
Busy professionals only want to speak with other professionals, not sales reps. If you feel like a peddler or sales guy / gal with a "pitch" - you won't get far connecting to the professionals on LinkedIn.
Learn about ME first before you dump your product information on the table. Your prospective buyers are getting dozens and dozens of contacts from bad sales reps every day. Ever since I returned from Dreamforce I've received bad emails and InMails.
One More Tip
When you go to connect with someone you DON'T know on LinkedIn, connect from your laptop, not a mobile device. For some strange reason, you cannot customize a connection request on the mobile LinkedIn app. Say something PERSONAL to that connection - why it is that you are reaching out to connect.
Because You Are A Person I Trust
Using LinkedIn's tired phrase of "because you are a person I trust" has NOTHING to do with me, and everything to do with YOU. You trust me? You don't even know me. I certainly don't know you. Give me some insight about why it would make sense for both of us to connect with each other - not just why it would be great for you. Don't assume you know that it would be great for me. Another bad thing is when you copy and paste the same message - it is generic enough to cut and paste. That makes me also feel like you are being lazy and a personalized connection to me is not worth your time.
Real sales pro's are making connections to build relationships, and over time are introducing potential ideas that could benefit those around them.
If you get this one thing right - you will go far in utilizing LinkedIn as an amazing prospecting tool.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the "Sales Ideas In A Minute" newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.