If you're an entrepreneur, especially one with a service-based business - landing a new client can be very costly. Learn seven easy ways to leverage LinkedIn to increase leads and referrals without breaking the bank.
“Be Yourself, everyone else is taken” - Oscar Wilde
One of the most effective methods is through referrals and connecting to new people.
According to the Harvard Business Review, referred customers can increase your profit margin by 25%.
They also noted that customers who found a business through word of mouth spend about 200% more than other customers.
Where’s a platform that service-based businesses, especially coaches and consultants, can connect with their customers, colleagues, and new people? LinkedIn!
I started out using LinkedIn about 5 years ago. My business coach advised me to get serious about LinkedIn and learn how to use it. She recommended connecting with people I didn't know.
My coach helped me see that only connecting with people that I knew in person on LinkedIn, was very limiting. (Of course, the pandemic really stopped that theory for me!)
During that time, I focused on marketing my web design business to attorneys. LinkedIn is attractive to industries such as legal because it’s compliance-friendly and an acceptable place to do marketing.
Other social media platforms aren’t usually allowed for professional services because of how they share data (cough, Facebook)!
I began seeing that LinkedIn was all about relationship building and direct messaging. There's a lot of magic that happens in there with commenting and interacting with other people's posts.
Over the years, I’ve met a lot of leads and referral partners on LinkedIn. I define a referral partner as someone who trusts me enough to recommend me to their client, friend, or colleague to solve a problem.
Referrals are so much of the bread and butter of how many of my clients receive work. I took it upon myself to understand how I could be treating my own referral partners better and then help educate my clients on how to do that.
I find that many of the tips below align with the famous book “How to make friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie.
This book was written in 1936, almost 100 years ago. I read it about 15 years ago and it really helped me see the potential of connecting with people and how to build relationships that last.
Seven Simple Ways to Leverage LinkedIn for Your Business
Here are some of my go-to tips to share on how to connect with potential clients and referral partners on LinkedIn. Everything I share below can be done with the free version of LinkedIn.
1. Get over 500 connections.
Be sure to connect with 500 or more people through your LinkedIn account. Why should you aim to have more than 500 connections on your LinkedIn Profile? Here are some nice benefits:
- You'll appear more often in search results
- You'll be higher in the search ranking
- You'll have more shared connections and have easier access to the right people
- You'll show up more often in People Also Viewed
- You'll appear more often in People Similar To Your status updates and published posts are more likely to receive views, shares, and comments
To get your 500+ connections, start reconnecting with old colleagues and co-workers. Connect with people that you've known for the last 20 years, and you probably haven't talked to in a long time.
It's easier to engage with people you already know. Make it a game and connect with 10 new people a week or 40 a month. If you do this consistently for 6 months, you will have 250 new connections!
2. Connect with NEW people.
Reaching 500 connections helps you build more confidence to start reaching out to new people.
The more people you're connected with, and you start posting engaging, they're going to see it and start spending more time commenting with you and engaging with you. It's to your benefit to at least start within your own network and branch out from there.
Keep making it a game and connect with 5 new people a week. The best way to find these people is if you have other folks in your network. Find these people when they comment or like colleague’s or client’s posts.
3. Connect after an in-person or virtual networking event.
Anytime, you attend a meetup or networking event, be sure to connect with everyone who attended (in-person or virtual).
Virtual networking is easier because you can get their name or website and get the direct link from there.
4. Use canned responses for direct messaging (DM).
There is a lot of spamming in the DM (Direct Messaging!) and you can let it go.
Ignore them and know that is not how you want to come across. What's worked for me and my clients is being authentic.
I recommend having some canned responses - wait, I know it sounds counterintuitive, but listen. These canned responses are friendly messaging that you've already pre written that sounds like you. (I have examples of these in my LinkedIn Masterclass).
Work on saying the canned responses out loud and then tweak them to use your own language.
Watch how you say “Hi” and be yourself. There's some colloquial terms or some sayings you are probably using.
Define who you want to connect with. You don’t need to answer every Direct Message you receive.
Take time to review the person’s profile and see if there is something in common and the opportunity for you to help them or collaborate.
5. Find a connection with someone.
Take a look at people's profiles and look at what you have in common or you find interesting or can be curious about.
I like to see what college or certifications people earn or where they like to volunteer.
It’s touching and it makes it a much more meaningful relationship building aspect to connect on something you have in common.
6. Be curious and helpful.
Asking questions and being a naturally curious person is to your benefit when you are on a platform such as LinkedIn.
You can ask questions “Is there someone I can introduce to you that can be really helpful?”
Giving people resources that don't cost you anything but your time and helping people find solutions can go a long way.
Be sure to give resources ONLY if people give you permission, don’t shove a PDF or video at someone.
7. Have fun and experiment.
I encourage people to experiment with the different features in LinkedIn.
In the last few years, we didn’t see a lot of folks in person so I did an experiment of sending video messages and audio messages (right through the LinkedIn app on your phone!) to people and say hi out of the blue.
I didn’t hear back from everyone, but that’s ok. The folks who enjoyed the message were delighted!
Especially some of the people I hadn’t seen in a while. This works best with people you KNOW. I find if it’s new people on LinkedIn, commenting and DMing, like I spoke about earlier, is a better way to communicate.
BONUS: Another fun feature of LinkedIn on the profile page is you can record your voice (up to 10 seconds) sharing how to pronounce your name. With a name like mine, that can be handy!
I believe if you begin connecting and using 2-4 of the suggestions above for a month, you will start to see traction!
Posting on LinkedIn is always good, but engagement and being a nice person can go a long way.
Let me know what you try and what’s worked for you. Especially if it’s something I didn’t list above.