It can be tricky to navigate connecting with potential clients on LinkedIn. On today’s episode of The Same Side Selling Podcast, Ian Altman and Meridith Elliott Powell discuss the do’s and don’ts of reaching out on LinkedIn.
00:04 Ian Altman
Welcome to the Same Side Selling Podcast. I'm Ian Altman, joined by Meridith Elliott Powell. Meridith, welcome once again.
00:12 Meridith Elliott Powell
Thank you. I'm looking forward to today's episode.
00:14 Ian Altman
Well, today's episodes is a direct result of emails we've gotten from people saying, how do I best use LinkedIn to connect with other people? And I figured that maybe you could start us off with the mistakes that people make when trying to use LinkedIn to connect.
00:30 Meridith Elliott Powell
Yeah, I think this is lucky for us and lucky for this podcast. There's a lot of mistakes that people make when they reach out on LinkedIn. I don't know what it is about social media that sort of turns off our self-awareness or empathy bone, but one of my favorites is mistakes people make is lack of doing research. You know, just before you would make sales call on anybody, you would bother to do the research. It's the same online. You need to read the profile. You need to know the blogs and the articles they've written, who they follow, where they went to school. You need to do those things so you can make an educated reach out. But also, so you don't put your foot in your mouth or do something stupid. I had somebody reach out to me that wanted to help train my staff and get my team ready and my company ready for succession planning. Now I own a lifestyle business. All of my support is contract labor. When I get ready to sunset this business, I am going to sunset it. I am not selling it or transitioning it to anybody else. So, the negative of that is not only did they not get a deal on reaching out, but they killed the opportunity for me to refer them any business.
01:44 Ian Altman
Yep, and that level of research. I get it often where people reach out to me and say, hey, have you ever considered writing a book? It's like, well, in fact, I have. It's done quite well. It's in its second edition. It'd be like someone asking you, have you considered writing a book? Like another one? And yeah, the things that are just awful. The other mistake that I see, so that first part, is a lack of research where people just haven't done the research. They come off looking foolish, and their reputation gets tarnished because they didn't do the work in advance. The second thing I find is people who, in essence, just share their own kind of hit list of services. So, they say, oh, do you need x, y, z, a, b, c? Do you need web development? PHP? Do you need, you know, database work? And it's like, just this litany of a list of topics. And what I find in that area is that all they're really doing is commoditizing themselves because they're not showing any differentiation. They're just, everything's a generic viewpoint. Are you seeing that also?
02:52 Meridith Elliott Powell
Oh, my gosh, I see that all the time. In fact, I've had somebody reach out to me in the last three days in a row because I haven't responded. And not only did they reach out and list their products, but then they reach out and say, just in case you missed my last message. You know, the chances are, if somebody didn't respond to you on LinkedIn, and you talked all about yourself, they didn't miss your last message. They're ignoring your last message because it's about you. It's not about me. You also don't have any idea which product would fit me. You're just throwing every product you sell at me. You know, I think really, Ian, what we're getting to is that when you sell on social media when you sell on LinkedIn, there's still the same practical sales strategies that apply for in-person apply for online. And you need to think about before you ever send a message, would you do this in person? And if the answer is no, don't do it.
03:52 Ian Altman
I love that. I love that you mentioned that because I think this is something that is a critical element, which is people forget that you're dealing with a human being on the other side of it. And they think I can use social media to generate some level of scale, but then through that process, what people forget is that human connection. So, they don't connect with any authenticity. So, imagine if you walked into a networking event, and as soon as you saw someone in front of you, instead of offering a pleasant greeting or asking about them, if you walked up to them and said, you need a database? They would throw their drink in your face. I mean, it's just awful. And instead of having any sort of genuine connection, they either use some deceptive practice, like, oh, I'm looking to build my network with other quality individuals. Well, people who know me, I have a shortcut. In LinkedIn, where I type four characters, and it responds to the individual and says, thanks so much for reaching out. What specifically inspired your connection? And the fascinating thing is that less than 5% of the people then respond to that. Because they don't really have a reason for connecting, they're just trying to pitch me something, and it's just a horrible approach to that. So, what could and should people be doing, that'll generate a better result?
05:19 Meridith Elliott Powell
Well, I think number one is, I think one of the best ways to sell on LinkedIn is, number one is to use your existing network. Go to those people who already know, like, and trust you and that you have invested in for them to make introductions and open doors for you. The warmer you can make it, the easier the transition is going to be. And that can lead to the conversation. So, I'd say number one, again, just like you do it in person, using those existing relationships.
05:52 Ian Altman
If you're in an in-person networking event, it would be totally reasonable for me to be at the event and say, oh, let me introduce you to Meridith. And now I can have that connection, and then you get, in essence, my social endorsement, just from that introduction. It's the same thing on LinkedIn. The other thing that I find is that too often, people talk about what it is that they do, rather than the types of problems they solve or describing the situations where they help other people. And so, they'll say, for example, oh, I'm a digital marketing agency, or I'm an insurance agent, or I'm a wealth management person. Instead of, if you're in wealth management, you might say something like, well, typically, I work with high-net-worth individuals on how to improve their tax efficiency, so they're not sending as much money to the government as they currently are. Well, then someone says, oh, yeah, I want to learn more about that, rather than, oh, you're a stockbroker.
06:51 Meridith Elliott Powell
I think along with that, you know, inputting your problems out there with the problems that you solve, it's also using LinkedIn to build your reputation. I mean, I find by putting videos out there, putting articles out there that are of value, speaking to the problems that I solve, the difference I can make, it allows people to get to know me. And what happens is people end up reaching out to me, rather than me having to reach out to them.
07:18 Ian Altman
Yeah. And so, I think we've touched on this, and I kind of want to wrap it up here, and I want to summarize all this because I think it's key for people to understand. So, the big mistakes usually are one, people don't do their research. The second is they talk all about themselves. And the third is that when they're connecting to people, they're not doing it with authenticity. And instead, what we want to do, and I'll give you a chance for rebuttal to cover the things that I miss, but instead, what we want to do is we want to do our research in advance. We want to leverage those relationships we built where people already know like, and trust us to make introductions elsewhere. And I would also add, in addition to talking about the problems that we solve, we want to actively engage in communities of the kind of people we like to work with. Not pitching our services, but offering insight and offering value to those to those conversations without pitching anything. I find that often when I give away input and give away ideas, that's when people say, oh, are you available to come help our team? Are you available to speak at this event? Because I wasn't pitching it. I just saw a conversation where I can help, and I jumped in. Not in an, oh, I know better than you, but hey, if you considered doing this. I love how someone mentioned this approach. Have you considered this instead? So, what have I missed that people should also remember?
08:43 Meridith Elliott Powell
You know, I think I think you really nailed it. I think you got it all. The only thing I'm going to add is to think about the fact that this is a long game. You're not going to go on LinkedIn on Monday morning and post something and get the sale immediately. If you do, then that's a one-off. It's luck. Chances are, you are not going to keep that customer long-term. So, you're looking to invest, build a reputation, and remember, if you invest in people first, they'll ultimately invest in you.
09:09 Ian Altman
I love that. So, we will see you again on the next episode of the Same Side Selling Podcast. In the meantime, be sure to share this with other people that you think would benefit from it. And if there are topics you'd like to hear, much like this one, drop us a note, and we're happy to cover it. Till next time. Bye-bye.