LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for getting more leads for your business. I’ve personally used it to do this and can show you how. But this is no quick fix, it’s a process you have to invest some time in.
How to get more clients on LinkedIn
If you do this you will make a big impact, and you will be able to build relationships with the kind of people you actually want to work with. It’s definitely worth the investment.
Optimise your profile
Your LinkedIn profile is part CV, part business card, part brochure, and part conversation forum.
You should optimise your LinkedIn profile with these steps and then you’ll have a solid foundation for connecting with other people.
When people see your profile they’ll know you mean businesses and aren’t going to be a waste of their time. You can then build on this solid first impression to get more clients on LinkedIn.
Identify companies and people you’d like to work with
LinkedIn has hundreds of millions of registered users from all over the world. It may not be as big as Facebook, but there’s no way you can connect with them all!
And even if you did it would be a waste of time because most of them wouldn’t want to work with you, and to be honest you probably wouldn’t want to work with most of them either.
It’s not until you identify who you want to work with that the magic starts happening.
Start a list of people you want to work with. You probably have a vague idea in your head but you haven’t pinned it down. A list is a great way to do this.
Be realistic about who you connect with
It might seem that the most influential people are just a few clicks away, but as a general rule the more successful a person is the less likely they’ll accept your connection request.
My suggestion is that you start connecting with peers in your industry, rather than the heavy hitters. Go for the CEO of a promising tech startup in your area rather than Bill Gates.
When connecting with people on your level you will have much more luck getting them to accept, and this will give you the confidence that your strategy is working.
As your connections grow and you build your LinkedIn presence you will be in a much stronger position to connect with people much higher up the ladder.
Develop a consistent, manageable outreach routine
Once you know who you want to work with you need a strategy for making a connection with them.
Go to your list of people you want to work with and first see if they are on LinkedIn.
If they are it’s a good idea to follow them for a bit before you make a connection request.
To do this on desktop go to their LinkedIn profile and click the ‘more’ button next to the message icon, then select ‘follow’ from the drop down menu.
This will make their posts appear in your timeline.
Keep an eye on what they post. Look out for opportunities to contribute to their feed in some useful way. The earlier you can comment on a post the better, because if they have lots of engaged connections they probably won’t respond to later comments. If they like or reply to your comment in a positive way you now have a great opening for connecting with them.
Send them a connection request with a personalised note. Say something like…
“Hi Jo, thanks for your post on [TOPIC]! I’m a [SPECIALISM] based in [LOCATION], I thought it’d be useful to connect with you. All the best, [NAME]”
This is a solid way to connect with people, but it’s not the only way.
Here’s a simple way to connect with people on LinkedIn that can also be very effective…
Target specialisms by location
Instead of targeting specific people, search for specific job descriptions. Start with people in your area. This gives you an obvious ‘in’ for connecting with them.
For example, I might search for ‘marketing consultant, Scotland’. I’ll select promising looking people, then check out their LinkedIn profile to find out what they’re all about. If there’s a link to their website I’ll check it out. Next I’ll look to see if they have any content on their feed. I’ll read their most recent content and leave a comment if appropriate. Then I’ll send them a personalised connection request saying something like this:
“Hi Jo, I’m a copywriter based in Glasgow. I find it useful to connect with marketing professionals in Scotland and thought I’d reach out. All the best…”
Because I’ve optimised my LinkedIn profile and because I target realistic people to connect with and send a personalised request I find that most people accept my requests.
Once people accept my request I send them a brief message and link them to a page on my website where I have a ‘thank you’ message that gives a little intro to me, without trying to sell anything to them. I’m quite an introverted person so I don’t like pushing myself on people, and anyway marketers are starting to realise that this approach doesn’t really work!
How to turn a LinkedIn connection into a client
OK, so you’ve worked out how to connect with people, but there’s a massive elephant in the room. How do you turn your LinkedIn connections into clients?
I’ll be very honest with you: the majority of people you connect with will not become your clients. That’s just the nature of the beast.
But… those connections will start to notice you. And they will start to talk about you. I’ve won clients because one of my connections has recommended me… without ever working with me themselves!
Remember: people are watching
The thing about social media is that we have become so conditioned to thinking that if people don’t like, share, or comment on our posts that they aren’t interested, or haven’t seen our content. But that’s not the case. The vast majority of people on social media are what is described as ‘lurkers’… they are silently watching without making their presence known. Think about it, we all do this with most of our feeds.
Think of all the content that you passively consume. You may not engage with it directly but you do take it in, and it influences you. How many times have you nodded affirmatively when reading a post but not engaged with it? Probably a lot.
Timing is everything
When you connect with someone on LinkedIn it’s very unlikely that they just happen to be in a buying phase in that very moment. That’s one of the reasons why hitting people with a sales pitch as soon as you connect is a bad idea. There’s nothing more irritating than people trying to sell stuff to you when you don’t want to buy.
But over time potential clients may enter a space where they need help, and if you have made a good impression they may well gravitate towards you.
The ball’s in their court
This is the thing about getting clients on LinkedIn… the ball’s not really in your court. When a buyer is ready to buy they will take actions to make that happen. What you need to do is be visible and easily accessible when that time comes.
But that doesn’t mean that you should just passively sit around doing nothing.
What you need to do is stay visible and deliver genuine insight and assistance, before you ever work with a client.
Marketer Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how marketing online is about creating a media outlet. This is a bit of a simplification, but his point is essentially valid. You need to create content on a regular basis and distribute that content effectively… just like a media company would.
Go it alone
To get more clients on LinkedIn we need to be more self-reliant, and self-motivated. We need to take action without expecting immediate rewards. Don’t expect to get results in less than 3 months. That’s not to say you won’t see results earlier, it’s just that you will get demoralised if you expect to immediately win a new client. When I first started seriously trying to generate clients on LinkedIn I got a new client within a few days. But it took me significantly longer to get my next client.
Clients want to see your dedication
The worst thing when building relationships is to be too needy. It’s really off putting for people. People want to know that you are self reliant and that you can work under your own steam. That’s another good reason why it’s so important that you take the time to create regular content for your LinkedIn feed. If you can deliver consistently good work on your own, potential clients will realise that you will be able to create amazing work for them too.
Publish regular posts and articles
Staying visible is so important. The best way to do this is to regularly publish content. If you’re not already posting 1-3 LinkedIn posts per week you are missing out on an opportunity to be visible and attract the attention of prospective clients.
On top of this you should be posting articles, ideally 4 per month. If this is not realistic, then at least 1 very strong article per month at a minimum. There are a number of reasons for this:
We are operating in an ‘attention economy’ where you are likely competing with similar professionals who either have more money or time to devote to marketing than you do. Publishing regular content will help keep your presence afloat.
It needs to be easy for you to point to examples of your thinking on your specialism. At least one article per month will mean you can get a wide sample of your expertise out there. By building up an archive of your insights you will have content you can share with your clients when you do get them… this can help rapidly orientate them to working with you, answer key questions that might arise, and demonstrate how you can help them practically and strategically.
What’s the point of LinkedIn posts?
If your articles provide food for thought for your potential clients then your posts are a way to keep the conversation going between main courses.
They take less time to create and are more informal than your longer articles. And they are ways to generate talking points.
You can use LinkedIn posts to ask questions, generate feedback, and curate personal experiences from amongst your network.
In social gatherings people tend to gravitate towards conversations that seem lively and appeal to their interests. So it is with your LinkedIn feed.
Talking to your connections
There’s a reason they call LinkedIn a social media platform… it’s a communication medium where you can have conversions with the people you want to work with.
In many ways this is the equivalent of having a mini job interview with potential clients whenever you want.
Like any conversation you need to pay attention to what the other person is saying and respond in an appropriate way. Act natural, talk about the challenges of your industry in an authentic way, and trust that your authority will shine through. Never force it.
So far we’ve talked about doing the following:
- Identifying who you would like as clients
- Optimising your LinkedIn profile so it shows you off in the best light
- Sending personalised connection requests to prospective clients
- Publishing regular content so you stay visible and can demonstrate your expertise
- Engage in conversations with people
By doing all of the above you will create the optimal condition for winning new clients on LinkedIn.
If you follow all these steps you will start building relationships with the kind of people you want to work with.
Once you have a relationship established with a prospective client, you are in a position to discover their current needs. Then you can match your own solutions to their challenges. For example, you can share an article you’ve written with them that shows them how to solve a particular problem. This may lead to a conversation about what you do.
At this point you can arrange to talk to them by phone, Skype etc… or perhaps email them more about your services.
The importance of following up
It’s tempting to think that once someone is interested in your services that it’s a done deal. But you’d be surprised how much follow-up can be involved in turning that into an actual contract of work.
This is sometimes because buyers like to keep their options open and test the market to see what kind of rates they can get.
So you need to make sure you follow up on promising discussions about work. Make sure you don’t bombard people, but after a few days send them a reminder. Then maybe leave it a week and send a follow up. You’ll get a sense from that person whether or not the trail has gone cold. Most of the time people are busy and have other more pressing day to day concerns to deal with. As long as you are respectful and polite people tend not to mind you persevering with them when following up potential work. They get it.
OK, so I think I’ve covered the essentials of how to get clients on LinkedIn. You’ll notice that there are no easy, one-size-fits-all answers. If it was that easy everyone would be doing it. But these methods I’ve shared with you do work, assuming you are able to provide skills that are in demand and position yourself well by optimising your profile, making the right connections and engaging with people… and publishing regular content of course!