A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on how NOT to use LinkedIn in your sales efforts (read it here). It was one of our most popular posts all year. Evidently, I’m not the only one who hates hard-sell pitches on LinkedIn.
In a happy coincidence, I was telling a client contact about this post… and she told me a story about how she is using LinkedIn in a friendly, non-salesy and effective way. Here’s what she’s doing…
She mentioned that we all have business trips planned well in advance of the travel… going to conferences, visiting key clients, etc. So, what this smart lady does is that several weeks before her trip, she spends some time searching for and inviting sales prospects (in the destination city) to connect on LinkedIn. No sales pitch… just a plain ol’ invitation.
Then, as she gets closer to the travel date, she reaches out to these new connections (and some older ones, too) to invite them to meet over coffee. It’s a simple, LinkedIn message that reads something like, “Bill, thanks so much for connecting with me a couple of weeks ago. I’m going to be in [city here] next week and thought it might be nice to meet over a cup coffee. Please let me know if you have any availability on the 16th or 17th. Thanks.”
Friendly… non-salesy… and apparently, very successful. My friend tells me that this ‘coffee invitation’ strategy often results in back-to-back-to-back meetings… each of which is the start of a potential new business relationship. Pretty impressive!
NOBODY wants to be the recipient of an aggressive sales pitch – especially when they’re not expecting it, like inside of LinkedIn – but the smart, friendly, human use of a tool like LinkedIn can really help to bridge the gap between buyer and seller and accelerate how they move forward together.
How about you? What use of LinkedIn have you found to be effective in establishing or growing business relationships? If you’re willing to share, my blog readers would love to hear about it. Thanks.