It’s very possible to get massive business opportunities on LinkedIn, without spending anything. All for free.
John Lombard, a Canadian, living and working in China since 1993 recently did this and has agreed that I share his LinkedIn strategy with you as shared on his timeline.
I’ve seen quite a few people bash LinkedIn as a poor resource for doing business. I guess that it depends on what kind of business you are doing. I recently scored some huge business opportunities directly via LinkedIn.
And I didn’t spend a cent!
Rather than try to turn this into another “pay me and I’ll reveal my secrets!” thing, I’m just going to share this with anyone who may be interested.
I’m sure that I am not the first to come up with this strategy. And there are probably others who do it even better. But it’s something that I believe could help others out there in their business.
It all started when I faced a sudden challenge of reaching out to a large number of potential corporate clients for my corporate consulting services through my new business, The Language of Culture.
I started by finding LinkedIn groups for my target market. In this case, groups related to corporate diversity. I found the six largest groups, and joined each of them.
Then, once I’d joined, I shared articles that I had written about cultural diversity within corporations. Some people, after reading them, ‘liked’ them, or even commented on them.
For those people, I immediately responded with a personal request to connect on LinkedIn.
“Hey, Susan! Thanks so much for your comments on my article! I’m looking to expand my networks within the corporate diversity community, and would love to connect with you!”
Within two weeks, I had about thirty people that I had added this way. Not a huge number but enough to launch the next stage.
I then started searching the LinkedIn directory for people with the job title of “Chief Diversity Officer”. I’d check out their profiles, make sure that they were a suitable target, and then sent them messages inviting them to add me to their contacts.
The initial message was very simple, along the lines of:
“We’re both diversity professionals, I’m looking to expand my networks in this area, I would love to connect with you!”
Now, the community of corporate diversity professionals is a fairly small one, and many of them know each other (through conferences, groups, etc.). So when they got my invitation, and checked my LinkedIn profile, they saw that:
a) I belonged to a LinkedIn group that they also belonged to, and
b) that we had mutual friends (from the people I’d already added in the first stage).
This made most of them feel quite comfortable to add me. I got positive responses from over 70 percent of the people I contacted. Not only growing my network quite rapidly, but growing it with the exact people that were most relevant to my business.
The next thing I did, once they added me, was to hit them with a sales pitch…not! Nope.
I wrote back to them with links to some of the articles I’d written. “Here are some articles I’ve written about Cultural Diversity in corporations, I’d love to get your feedback”, which helped to further establish me as an authority. And I asked them more questions about their jobs, what challenges they had, etc.
Inevitably, they started asking me about my work, and what I did. And that led directly to them asking more specific questions about my programs — course details, costs, etc. They asked for marketing materials, and I am currently in discussions with three large multinational companies about potentially doing training and consulting programs for them.
And I’ve only just barely started to tap into this as a resource. I’m confident that there will be many more opportunities coming.
The lessons I’ve learned about uncovering business opportunities on Linkedin
1. Take the time to build a foundation of trust and credibility. Being a member of key LinkedIn groups, and contributing to those groups, as well as beginning to build connections with people within those groups.
2. Build on that trust by strategically contacting people who are most likely to also be in those groups, and/or to already be connected to some of the people you’ve connected with. As your list of contacts grows, so does the pool of people that you can connect with as a result.
3. Reinforce that trust by not trying to sell them. Give them something of value (articles, resources, etc.). Take time to learn about them, listen to them.
The key word in all of the above summaries is trust. If you’ve done each of these steps successfully, and if you have a product that is of interest to these people, odds are they will ask of you.
If nobody is asking you, you’ve probably done something wrong in the previous steps.
I would love to hear feedback, ideas, and suggestions from others…as well as any other useful LinkedIn strategies that you’ve found to be useful.