What do advisors wish for? For decades, they’ve wished there was an alternative to cold calling, something painless you did that brought business through the front door. First it was having a website. Then e-mail was the solution. Today it’s social media. Meanwhile, the pendulum has swung. Firms have gone from forbidding advisors use of social media to encouraging advisors to embrace it. LinkedIn is the platform of choice for most firms. So where does the business come from?
It’s the Dialog
You can make a case LinkedIn is a technology platform facilitating face to face meetings. Advisor A is connected to friend B who is connected to stranger C. A phones B, asking for a face to face introduction to C.
But advisors wish for more. What can I do, sitting at my desk that will bring interested prospects to me? That’s where getting a dialog going with a LinkedIn connection makes sense.
About a year ago, an advisor who’s an enthusiastic LinkedIn user explained the object is to get a back and forth dialog going with another person out there in the LinkedIn universe. If you went back and forth 5 – 8 (or more) times, the other person is pretty interested in doing business. All this can be done from the comfort of your office.
How Do You Get a Dialog Started?
Let’s look at good and bad ways to initiate conversation.
- The initial connection. You sent or received an invitation to connect. Now the deed is done. LinkedIn prompts you to get a conversation going.
Strategy: Send a message. Thank them for connecting. Ask some general questions to learn about them. Take baby steps.
- You are prompted with birthdays and work anniversaries for your 1st level connections. You hear about job changes too. LinkedIn even prefills a generic comment for you.
Strategy: Personalize the comment. Many people will respond, saying thanks or giving a thumbs up. Others will compose a message. Respond to their message. Get a conversation started.
- Who are you? Personally, I have 1,200+ connections. Some are friends, other business connections. Some are complete strangers. They read one of my articles and invited me to connect. In 2017 and 2018 I undertook a project to gradually work though those 1,200 names and send about a dozen e-mails a day. I used a standardized text, which I customized with information I knew about the person.
Strategy: My personalized message explained my project and asked “How do you use LinkedIn?” It’s something we have in common. It’s an offer to exchange information. Some people responded. Others asked me to call. Business came from it.
- Personal notes. The above project has a drawback. Most of it was boilerplate. This turned some people off. “Didn’t you check my profile before asking how I use LinkedIn?” Time for plan B.
Strategy: Each day, I try to write five personal messages to people I know on LinkedIn. I work alphabetically, so if you and I are connected and your last name begins with “S”, it will be awhile. I ask about family, the hurricane and holidays. I fill them in what Jane and I are up to. I include I’ve got my nose to the grindstone with work. I keep the professional tone. LinkedIn is professionals talking with other professional. People respond.
- Segmented lists. Within LinkedIn, I’ve broken out a few groups. Since I present training, Complex and branch managers is one group. Potential sponsors is another. Editors too. Strategy: On a quarterly basis, I work down a list, sending along a link to one of my recent articles with a short message, under ten words. It keeps me on their radar screen.
- The immediate business approach. Someone invites you to connect. You accept their invitation. Seconds later, a message says: “Thanks for connecting. How about doing business?”
Why it’s bad: It appears they had no interest in you, other than as a person they might make money from. People occasionally rant about this in posts to the daily feed.
- The invitation to become a client. This approach is even more direct than the first! It’s a personalized invitation to connect, that also asks if you want to do business.
Why it’s bad: The person receiving it really feels used. Even worse than the first example. I implies an unspoken agreement: If you connect, then you also want to do business.
There are many ways to get a conversation started. The takeaway is you want to get a dialog started.
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