LinkedIn is underrated. I say that while so many executives still think of LinkedIn as the place to go when you’re fresh out of a job. The reality is that LinkedIn is the preferred online networking platform of highly successful people.
Interestingly enough, I love it the most because it is the place I feel shielded from unwanted connections and yet, I feel I have access to quality connections and make meaningful contacts. “How do those two co-exist?,” you ask. This duality happens because LinkedIn offers you controls about who you connect with, how you connect with them, and keeps your private information, such as your email hidden. For those wishing to bombard me with products or services I don’t need or want this provides just enough screening for my taste. As I help many people grasp the top tips for LinkedIn success, I also love teaching people the more nuanced effective ways to used LinkedIn InMail for real sales and marketing results.
LinkedIn InMails are markedly different than messages on other platforms because of the immediate content it provides for the sender. They are also different because people are rarely “surfing” their LinkedIn mailbox. When they are engaged on LinkedIn they are typically deep into “work” mode and more likely to be business minded. This is simply not so on other social media platforms.
So, we all agree now that you can be gainfully employed and building your network on LinkedIn, but how is it useful to your sales and marketing strategy? If you’re like me, you need to reach decision makers. Ask around and you’ll find that most decision makers, even when they have relegated email, voicemail and other social media platform management to their assistant, they have stayed at the helm of both their text messages and their LinkedIn mailbox. So, there’s the access. But how do you advance your own goals without sending people messages and solicitations they don’t want to receive?
Making LinkedIn InMail a part of your sales and marketing strategy requires knowing your audience and writing a message that gets noticed and ends in action.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
I first get clear about my goals on LinkedIn. I know the exact ideal client I am looking for and I don’t waste time sending messages to those outside of the buyer persona I have developed. Before you start any sales activity on LinkedIn I highly recommend you know your intended audience. To make it easy, I’ve created a free downloadable tool to help you hone in on your most ideal audience.
WRITE THE RIGHT INMAIL
My 6 step plan (plus a bonus) for crafting the perfect LinkedIn InMail is as follows:
1. Make the Connection
Do everyone a favor and let them know WHY you even bothered with this message. What is the connection and why should they continue reading? This first line is your chance to establish rapport and context. This could sound like:
“I know we didn’t get to meet at the ____ conference, but I would like to connect now.”
“We’re both working in the ____ industry every day.”
“I see you are also a member of ____ group.”
2. Keep it Brief
If detailed information is not a part of your strategy then shoot for six or fewer sentences. Since you’ve used your first sentence up on establishing the connection, you have five more. I do have exceptions to this rule and I have posted an actual InMail here to show you how a longer message could be seriously intriguing, but just make sure you are not HIDING behind filler text. Nothing will kill your potential for a next step more than using more words than necessary.
3. Make Personal
Include a sentence or two that demonstrates your research work and sets this apart as NOT a generic message. This could look like:
“Your work with XXX company is really intriguing to me.”
“I enjoyed your recent blog about ___.”
4. Get Specific
Don’t beat around the bush about why you are sending this message. Do not use phrases like, “I was wondering”, “If you ever think of…” Instead, be transparent. Feel free to say, “It was important for me to write to you today because I’d like to connect about ___.”
5. Get Real
I don’t think it worthwhile to get specific if you haven’t gotten real about whether or not this person needs your product or service. While this is not a separate step where you necessarily add anything, this is the step where I give you my permission to ABORT THE MISSION. If the ideal client persona has truly been developed, chances are you do not need this stop gap. But, it is good to have a check in the system to remind you that genuine offers which will consider what this person actually needs are far more likely to succeed.
6. Offer a Clear Next Step
You may have intrigued a potential client up to now, but without a clear next step you are asking someone else to do your work. Instead, make sure this communication is the only one needed in order to make progress. Simply connecting was not the intention, so don’t sell your self short now. This could look like:
“I have Tuesday at 3:00 or Friday at noon available for a 10 minute demo. Would one of those work for you?”
I also love this step, because I am good with taking a “no” for an answer. Sometimes I actually say that, but I typically reserve it for the second communication. The beauty of LinkedIn InMail is that you truly don’t know where things will end. This is your chance to be authentic so that if and when they do buy and they meet you they will see the reality in sync with the online persona.
So you think I only have six suggestions on me? That’s where you’re wrong! The seventh element of a successful InMail message is humor. You DO get bonus points for using humor. Always be true to your personality, and of course, know your limits, but when presented with an opportunity to show a little humor - take it! Here is a simple idea that doesn’t cross over any lines:
“I’d like for you to call my assistant and set something up, but since I don’t have one I’ll just take your call directly at XXX-XXX-XXXX.”
I love LinkedIn for sales and marketing. It can be such an effective and direct form of communication with high-level decision makers. In the past it was very hard to get to those people through their gatekeepers, but with professional tips and a lot of practice you make make these more complicated connections happen with ease.
Beyond that, it takes time and patience to develop real skill to consistently increase your conversions via LinkedIn. But you have to practice, so get out there and get started. Join a group, share some posts, do some social listening and don't be afraid to learn more about LinkedIn's InMail and see your efforts magnify. Listen in for great LinkedIn tips on this podcast episode and let us know what you want to hear more about!
Are you new to LinkedIn and still building your profile? Check out my 5 Top Tips for LinkedIn Success here.
This post was written Priscilla McKinney, Momma Bird at Little Bird Marketing. As a full service agency, we provide full branding overhauls, website development, and extensive digital strategy including inbound marketing packages. Hear more from this Momma Bird in her podcast, Ponderings from the Perch or follow her on Twitter @LittleBirdMktg.
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Are you still on the fence about LinkedIn? Behold: Priscilla's Top 5 Tips for LinkedIn Success! This free resource will help you get an excellent grasp on how to navigate this powerful social network!