LinkedIn is without a doubt the leading social media platform for business. There are more than 130,000,000 users on LinkedIn in North America. If you want to be where your customers are, LinkedIn is your answer.
The question is how do you make use of the platform in the most effective way to grow your network and generate more leads?
First, set yourself a goal to grow your network by X new connections by the end of the next quarter. Then, follow these 7 lead generation tips you can start using right away to grow your LinkedIn network.
If you want to skip ahead to a free LinkedIn consultation, book your 15-minute session with a growth expert here.
1. Optimize Your Profile
What’s the first thing you do when someone or something intrigues you? You probably search for them online. The world of LinkedIn is no different.
When you send a connection request to a potential lead, they’re likely going to check you out first — and first impressions matter. Your LinkedIn profile is like a business card for your company.
Fill out your profile by following these steps:
- Ensure you have a good, professional headshot.
- Add a banner image.
- Write your ‘about section’ with your A-client in mind. Tell them why you care about serving your industry, how you do it differently than others, and why it’s important to you that you do it that way.
- Ensure your description is optimized for SEO by incorporating your industry’s keywords.
- Add your relevant skills, experience, and awards.
- Showcase the services you offer.
Ideally, your profile should be an accurate reflection of your brand message. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it needs to be professional.
2. Send Connection Requests
Now that your profile is good to go, you need to start building your network. There are 3 primary reasons for this:
- You can see more information about the people your connections know
- More people will see your content
- It builds the foundation for referrals and introduction requests
LinkedIn gives you a hand by showing you contacts that you probably know. Start by sending them a connection request. If you don’t know them, it helps if you have at least one connection in common. Simply add a note and write: “I noticed your LinkedIn profile and saw that X is a mutual connection. I thought it would be great to connect.” You should see about 50% of the contacts you don’t know accept your request with that message.
Action: Get in the habit of sending 20 requests per week. That’s nearly 1,000 requests every year. At 50% acceptance rate, your network will grow to over 2,500 contacts in 5 years.
3. Join Relevant Groups
LinkedIn groups are valuable as they give you access to members who are interested in a specific topic and looking to interact with other industry professionals.
Start by searching for groups that are relevant to your A-Clients. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 100 groups, but you want to be selective of the groups you join so that you’re not wasting your time. Use keywords that are relevant to your industry to narrow down your search for suitable groups.
Having a hard time finding relevant groups on LinkedIn? No sweat! LinkedIn gives you the option to create your own groups. This is a great way to create a forum to nurture relationships and connect with highly targeted individuals.
Watch this video on how to join LinkedIn groups:
Action: Start by joining 5 groups with 500+ members in each. Write a short post to introduce yourself and mention that you’re looking to make new connections. Comment on the last five posts that were submitted to start engaging with the existing members.
3. Always Add Value
A key pillar to your outreach strategy needs to be based on offering value to your core audience. You can do this by writing and posting well-researched blogs, articles, infographics, and videos.
At Intrigue, we curate content on our blog based on commonly asked questions from our clients and the challenges they face. We also offer downloadable guides and resources for leads who are interested in taking things a step further.
This type of content is great to share on LinkedIn and in direct messages. To create valuable content for your audience, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the most common questions you get from your leads?
- What tips, best practices, and insider knowledge can you offer?
- Where can you add value to your potential customers?
Once you identify these areas, create content around these ideas which you break down into shorter, bite-sized LinkedIn posts. That way, you can build your lead generation strategy for the next several months.
5. Engage Consistently
Building a network on LinkedIn and creating an influence is a long-term game. It requires time and effort. Don’t give up if you’re not seeing results after a few weeks. Your list of contacts is unlikely to grow exponentially overnight. Just like building muscle, consistency is key. The only way to ensure results is by sticking to your strategy week by week, month by month.
Follow these simple rules to stay consistent:
- Allocate 5 minutes of every day to respond to messages and connection requests.
- Create a content schedule to post regularly. As mentioned above, focus on curating high-quality and relevant content.
- Engage with other posts in a meaningful way by liking, commenting, and sharing often. Remember that LinkedIn is a two-way street.
- If someone has liked or commented on your post, express your gratitude by responding to them.
6. Host a Virtual Event
The relationships you establish on LinkedIn are meant to be meaningful, long-lasting, and partner-oriented. By hosting consultative, peer-to-peer events, you stand out from the crowd and position yourself as an industry expert.
Here is an example of a Landscaping Mastermind event series we host on an ongoing basis for landscape business owners:
The idea is to host groups of 8-10 prospects — with a client or two in the mix — for a 60 minute roundtable in an exclusive, confidential, and peer-to-peer environment. As the host, you facilitate the discussion by asking questions and allow guests to bring their insights, best practices, and ideas to the table.
This positions you as an expert and a connector, not as a seller. People want to hear from their peers, and you’re facilitating meaningful connections. It’s authentic because 90% of the content covered in the session will come from the attendees — not a presentation from you.
The beauty of this approach is that it brings you insights into the biggest challenges your potential clients are facing. Are you positioned to help them, or do you need to shift gears to maintain relevance and a leadership position in your industry?
7. Send Direct Messages
Once someone accepts your connection request, it’s time to build your relationship. Before you do so, it’s important to remember that people hate to be sold but love to buy.
LinkedIn is a social platform — it helps you connect with people. Trying to sell directly in your first interaction can be similar to meeting people at a tradeshow, giving them your business card, and telling them why they should buy from you. Nobody likes that!
Let’s keep in mind that the human approach to sales remains true to LinkedIn. When it comes to sending direct messages on LinkedIn, we can group this approach into two buckets:
- Sending messages to people you know
- Sending messages to people you don’t know
Sending messages to people you know
You can be more direct here. A good approach is to send a message looking for feedback, such as:
Hi Sue, as a leader in X industry, your perspective would be appreciated on a new program we’re rolling out for XYZ company.
We have a new approach to help solve problem 1, 2, and 3. My question is: do you experience any of these problems?
Thank you for taking the time, Sue.
If she replies, “yes we do”, great! It’s an opening to set up a quick call to understand her challenges. If she replies ‘No, we don’t’, that’s also great! It’s an opportunity to set up a quick call to better understand what issues she is experiencing. It’s simple, and it works.
Sending messages to people you don’t know
This requires a bit more tact and resources. You should assume that the majority of your market is not in a final, ready-to-buy stage. So, your job is to help them understand their problems better and provide insights into what they can do about them.
Here are 4 effective ways to connect and engage with someone you don’t know on LinkedIn:
- Include an industry article (best practices or growing trends, for example)
- Send them your latest guide, checklist, or e-book
- Invite them to an exclusive event you’re hosting
- Invite them to join a new LinkedIn group you created
At the end of the day, building relationships by offering value is what LinkedIn is all about. Do that consistently over time, and you’ll grow your network and your business.
At Intrigue, we help empower leaders to strengthen communities. If you want to learn more about these strategies and how to apply them to grow your business, book a free 15-minute Linkedin Learning session here.