Over the past 2 years, I’ve shifted from generating leads primarily through outbound to getting the majority of my quality leads via inbound – with the largest percentage of them coming from LinkedIn.
And I’ve spent zero dollars on ads, tech, automation, or any other hack or tool to do it.
How you ask? It’s actually been pretty simple… all I’ve done is find unique ways to add value to the community there.
See, the truth is, most people think about social selling the wrong way. They think that since 75% of B2B buyers consult social media when making purchasing decisions, it means LinkedIn is a place to sell.
But it’s not. And LinkedIn never intended it to be either.
Instead, they created it as a place to help professionals build and maintain relationships (much like Facebook was originally created to help college students keep in touch).
That means if you want to use LinkedIn to generate quality leads, you have to “connect” with those people first. But like really connect – not just click a button.
Here’s how I’ve done that using LinkedIn.
How to Build Your LinkedIn Lead Generation Strategy (Step-by-Step)
Before we dig in, it’s important to understand why you should use LinkedIn. As Simon Sinek would say, ‘it starts with why’ and I couldn’t agree more.
When it comes to B2B, LinkedIn is the most powerful platform. It’s one of the places where millions of engaged professionals visit the site, share information that they care deeply about professionally, and most importantly, return often.
According to Hootsuite, 91% of executives rate LinkedIn as their first choice for professionally relevant content with 80% of B2B social media leads generated from LinkedIn.
It’s the most effective platform to connect with the people that matter the most to your business. Take SocialPilot for example, they reported that LinkedIn ads are 227% more effective for generating leads than other networks.
Bottom line, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful place for professionals to seek, share, and collaborate on specific business objectives making the platform a phenomenal lead generation tool.
1. Set your focus: building a brand.
The power of brand is real, especially in sales.
Salespeople at companies with an established brand (or those that have a strong personal brand and network) have a much easier time getting their foot in the door with prospects because of it:
“81% of buyers are more likely to engage with a strong, professional brand.”
Since most buyers are on LinkedIn looking for help, the surefire way to get your prospects to engage is to be known (i.e. “branded”) as a valuable person to know with a fresh perspective and an authentic point of view..
I do this by finding ways to show that I can be trusted as an advisor on subjects related to my buyers’ businesses and mine. I want to be the one they know they can turn to with their questions, concerns, and ideas knowing they’re going to get a no-BS answer.
That’s the key for you as well – and it’s what all of the tactics that follow work to support.
LinkedIn has no shortage of people who are out for their own interests. So one of the best ways you can stand out is to establish yourself as the opposite.
I do this with content:
- LinkedIn Posts: With 1300 characters, this is a great way to share your point of view with meaningful insight to help. It’s like a super magnet for the people you’re wanting to talk to the most. Note, this is a long-game strategy and not the place for you to be self-promotional.
- Pulse Articles: I think about this very much the same way as I do posts. It’s an opportunity to showcase your knowledge to start conversations.
- Comments: My rule is this, if you’re not going to contribute to the discussion with a deeper thought beyond the word ‘love’, then you’re better off simply liking a post and moving along. Thoughtful comments make you look authentic, interested, and intelligent.
- Shares: Sharing a key prospect’s content with a summary of why it packs a punch to give them increased visibility while showcasing some extra insight that could be useful.
The key is making sure your content solves/answers the burning problems/questions your prospects have. The better you can help them achieve their goals and solve their problems… the more you’ll achieve that “valuable to know” brand.
Not quite sure how to do that? Here’s a killer suggestion:
One critical key to this… whatever you share should always come from what you’ve actually seen, experienced, and accomplished. Linkedin is cluttered with much of the same topics being shared. The only way to truly stand out while being magnetic is to establish your own point of view.
When it comes to LinkedIn, the best way to think about it is to give more than you get. Look for ways to help..always. Invest in the relationship.
Stay authentic and remember – no one has all the answers, so don’t be afraid to be wrong. Treat it like a discussion and keep in mind that humility goes a long way!
3. Personalize every single connection.
Most salespeople are trying to mass connect with prospects these days using automation (I get a TON of these).
However, buyers can tell these messages are automated from a mile away. So instead, take the time to personalize every single one of your connection requests.
It will certainly take some additional work. But you’ll immediately stand out if you do. Plus, you’re much more likely to get a response.
Ok so yeah it’s about me… can’t say I didn’t enjoy seeing this 😉
Here’s how I personalize my LinkedIn connection requests and get a response almost every time:
- Have a compelling reason to connect. If you’re not connecting over something THEY care about, what’s the point? Your prospects are busy, so if they’re not going to care about why you’re reaching out, don’t reach out yet. It’s better to wait until you do.
- Nail the timing. Keep tabs on what’s happening in their world and make sure you’re reaching out when they’ll be most receptive. I do this with Nudge.ai.
- Individualize your message. The person receiving this connection request should always feel like you’re speaking to them and them alone. Otherwise, they’ll be quick to write it off as an automated message.
This approach signals to them that they’re not just another face on your hitlist and that you might actually be someone who can help.
4. Give before (and more than) you take.
Relationships aren’t one-sided nor do they start best with an ask. Instead, it’s better to give something to your prospects (or do something FOR them) first and on more than one occasion.
This video explains the concept really well. And some of my favorite ways to do this on LinkedIn include:
- Sharing their content and a summary of thoughts on the subject with my network to give them increased visibility and additional insight
- Connecting them with a person to make a thoughtful introduction where both parties will benefit from knowing each other
- Paying attention to what they’ve been talking about or are going through to share a useful piece of content they would find helpful (whether it’s mine or not)
- Thoughtfully chiming in on their conversations to provide a different perspective that packs a punch.
However, I’ve also done fun things like sending a personalized meme to a CRO who flew a specific kind of plane:
A bit corny, yes, but 100% personalized and effective. Response time = less than 5 minutes.
Anything is possible, so get creative! Just make sure whatever you do is thoughtful, authentic, selfless, and value-added.
5. Prioritize consistency… this is a long game.
A brand is not built overnight. And one of the most important parts of this strategy for me was committing to using it day in and day out.
Justin Welsh nails it yet again:
There will be days when your content doesn’t connect, prospects don’t respond, and it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. But that’s when you need to stay the course. Chasing the next shiny sales hack will sound good, but it will just distract you.
I keep a folder of feedback for the people that have told me how much what I’ve shared has helped, introductions because of my content, thoughtful feedback, and of course leads. Taking a look back in the rearview mirror to know it’s just a bad day and what I share really does make a difference is part of what propels me forward on those icky days.
This is the right work. Stick with it, keep learning.
At the end of the day, this is about being a human and putting yourself in your buyer’s shoes.
After all, LinkedIn is just an extension of real-life – the same social courtesies, interactions, and manners apply.
Think about it… how would you like to be approached? How would you NOT like to be approached? Interact with your buyers like that.
Above all else, always lead with a helpful foot and you’ll set yourself up for success!
This post was written by a guest author: Amy Volas.
Amy Volas is a sales fanatic turned entrepreneur, bitten by the startup bug many moons ago and couldn’t imagine spending her time anywhere else. She created Avenue Talent Partners to help with the tremendous task of growing startups through some of their most valuable assets — executive sales leaders and experienced enterprise salespeople.