How to Connect with Your Potential Clients Using LinkedIn

As an independent consultant, LinkedIn could provide a plethora of prospects. These four steps will help you build a successful LinkedIn marketing strategy.

The 4-Step Share and Engage LinkedIn Strategy for Independent Consultants

A valuable source of potential clients for any independent consultant is social media, and especially LinkedIn. While Facebook is attempting to make headway into the professional market, it is still seen as very much a ‘social club’ where family and friends meet, rather than the ‘professional network’ of LinkedIn.

For LinkedIn to be an effective source of leads and clients, it is crucial that you approach it with a strategy. If you create a profile and then expect people to find you and connect, you will be disappointed in the results. The time and effort that you put into your LinkedIn strategy will pay dividends, but you cannot approach the task as you would when marketing through other channels. You must use a more subtle approach – one that I call ‘share and engage’.

Here are the four steps of the share and engage LinkedIn strategy.

1.      Expand Your Professional Network

To engage with people, you must first connect with people. You must first be sure who your target audience is, and then search them out:

  • The place to start is via your 1st-degree connections. Who are their connections (your 2nd-degree connections)? Explore these by clicking through for likely leads to connect with – those who may become good leads.
  • You may also use LinkedIn’s search facilities to find prospects.
  • Influencers in your field, especially those with wide and deep connection lists.
  • Consider people you know or have met outside LinkedIn. Search for them on LinkedIn, and send a connection request.

When sending connections requests, here are a few pointers to help you achieve a good ‘conversion’ rate:

  • Always send a personalized connection request. Remind the person where you met or how you know them.
  • If they are a 2nd-degree connection, mention that you both know the 1st-degree connection.
  • If you don’t know them but would like to connect, review their profile and mention an article that they posted that you enjoyed (and why).
  • Make your connection request short and to the point, without being curt.
  • Do not send the default connection request – ever.

Another good source of potential prospects is LinkedIn groups that are pertinent to your work as an independent consultant. Join a few select groups where you may find connections – this will expand your connection hunting ground.

2.      Engage with Your Connections

Expanding your list of connections will not on its own produce new clients. It is critical that you engage your expanding list of connections. You must build a relationship with them, gain their trust, and keep your name at the front of their thoughts. Remember, every one of your connections knows many more people – each of those is a potential referral opportunity for you.

To engage your connections:

  • Send a private message upon connecting, thanking them
  • Share content or posts when appropriate
  • Comment and share their posts when appropriate (you’ll find that they are more likely to share your content with this strategy – it’s the law of reciprocal behaviour)
  • Don’t be shy of asking advice from others

Here’s a big DON’T…

Never send a message that smells of a sales pitch in any way. If you do, it’s not going to win you any friends or referrals.

3.      Develop LinkedIn Relationships

Once you have connected and engaged, you must work to develop your LinkedIn relationships. You must build trust and affinity with people to take them with you on a buyer’s journey. The way to earn trust is to give it. Be genuinely interested in what people have to say, and what is important to them. Here are a few pointers to help build the two-way trust that will help your list of connections become a valuable network:

  • When your connections comment on posts you share or articles you post, engage with them
  • If someone likes content that you post, engage with that connection
  • Comment on and share the content that your connections post (if appropriate)
  • Look for opportunities to introduce your connections to each other

If others comment on or share your posts or updates, make sure you engage with these people. Thank them for the time they took to read your content, and respond to comments, questions or queries. Every interaction is an opportunity to enhance your reach.

Finally, you must make sure that your reactions to others is timely – engaging with a comment that is two weeks old doesn’t really cut it when you are seeking to build trust and mutual respect.

4.      Become an Authority in Your Subject Matter

You have the experience and expertise; you shouldn’t be shy of showing it on LinkedIn – though always do so with humility. To do this:

  • Share appropriate content consistently
  • Provide content that is of value to your connections
  • Answer the problems and concerns that your connections may have in the content you post
  • Be active in the groups that you have joined

When creating content to share, consider what is important and interesting to your connections, so that you answer the questions they may have.

Summing Up

Utilising LinkedIn within your content marketing plans can pay tremendous dividends. However, to see the benefits you must work strategically and to a LinkedIn plan:

  • It is critical that you commit time and effort to expanding, engaging and developing your LinkedIn network
  • You must use tactics that build trust, creating and sharing valuable content, and commenting on and sharing content from others
  • Ensure that the content you create answers the questions and concerns that your connections may have
  • Be active and consistent, and take part in relevant groups to evidence your expertise as a subject matter authority

If you are apprehensive about whether your LinkedIn marketing strategy will be worth all the time and effort you need to commit to it, consider these statistics:

  • 97% of U.S. B2B marketers use LinkedIn (Statista)
  • 69% of U.S. B2C marketers use LinkedIn (Statista)
  • LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform for delivering content and securing audience engagement (Hubspot)
  • 80% of B2B leads generated on social media come from LinkedIn (Forbes)

Do you need help to create your LinkedIn strategy? To find out more and discover how we help businesses grow, contact BlabberJax today.

In the meantime, tell us what you have found to be your biggest network building challenge in the comments below. We’ll be happy to get in touch and help you find the solution.

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