So who else out there is tired of the LinkedIn sales messages? I have to admit, I am torn by the approach. The good ones include a personalized message rather than a cut and paste blanket invite. I have always said, I will accept invites that are personalized.
I recently received one that said, “I’m currently reaching out to established speakers and am hoping to learn more about your work.”
Based on his description, I knew he was prospecting, but we had many people in common and I accepted. I always send back a note commenting on how many people we had in common and directed him to my website to learn more about my work. I thought that was a polite but clear, “not interested” message.
His response changed everything. Though too long to share the whole thing, there were a couple of key pieces that extended the conversation. This made me think about a few key rules to reaching out.
1. Make It Warm. He responded back, “I just went through all of them and it’s interesting how they come from all different walks of life (newer contacts, former clients, even a family member).” Well, that piqued my curiosity and I asked who the family member was. That created several messages back and forth as I am closer to his family member than he is! Warming up a reach out can be through a mutual person, place, group, interest. This is exactly how I landed Deutsch Bank as my second client. I had 3 different people make warm introductions. It took all three before getting a response! Do a little leg work and find a point of connection between you and them to warm up your reach out.
2. Don’t Get Right Down To Business. I may be old school, but I believe the small talk, rapport building time is critical. That’s the time when someone stops bracing for the pitch and relaxes into a potential new relationship (if you do it right!). So instead of getting down to business, get down to relationship building. A client is not going to trust you, or want to work with you if they don’t know you, and even more importantly, don’t feel like you know them. Ask questions, learn about them, their family, their interests, or whatever else comes up. When you do start talking business, you will already be in a place where they want to say yes.
3. Add Value. I must admit, I do see this tactic often and appreciate it. But they could do it better than the standard response that says they want to add value and let them know if they want an intro. Offering something specific truly creates value and captures attention. This new contact and I were now at least a dozen exchanges in when he wrote, “I’m currently writing an article for my Entrepreneur column and am interviewing people on how to land big-name clients… Given your work with the major corporations, is that something you’d be interested in doing?” Well, sure I would, and I did.
For the record, he and I did eventually talk about what he does and I listened and was open to the pitch. Though I haven’t used his services, he is in front of my mind if I ever need them. Better than that, I already connected him to someone else who could use his services. Sometimes the referral is just as valuable. Building new relationships and landing new business is hard and even harder over the past two years. If you read articles on how to win big-profile clients, what you often get told is advice about how to make the perfect pitch, increase your confidence, and do your research. While you can’t ignore those elements, in my experience, these three tips will get you further faster.
These tips may seem simple or straightforward, but so many people forget that any business relationship is just that–a relationship. And all relationships start with a genuine connection.