I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth a deep dive. When you connect with someone do not try to sell them on anything. Think about dating and use a little romance.
Okay, I’m not talking about real romance but the concept of courting. You don’t meet somebody for the first time and immediately say, “I want to marry you!” In much the same way, as you build relationships online don’t look to get something from someone you’ve just connected with. There needs to be a courtship period where they get to know you and you get to know them.
Far too many people have a negative view of salespeople because too often salespeople take a shotgun approach and push their product or service on everyone. They do so without getting to know prospective clients and what their needs are.
Unfortunately, the same thing happens in the online world. But here’s the reality; good salespeople take time to get to know the people that they interact with. Sometimes they have to say, “What I have to offer won’t benefit you.” Other times they need to modify what they offer to meet the specific needs of the client. But they can never really meet the needs of a prospective customer if they don’t understand the client and that takes time. So, what should you do?
Spend time looking at someone’s profile.
So much is available right at your fingertips to help you understand the person you’ve connected with. Start with their LinkedIn profile. Find out where they’ve worked, the roles they’ve held, who they know, and people you both know. Check out where they went to college, find out what activities they are involved with, and places they volunteer. Each of these gives you insight into what’s important to that person.
From there, check out other social media sites – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – to see what you can learn. And, don’t underestimate the power of Google because it might lead you to lots of information outside of traditional social media sites.
Pay attention to their posts.
You can see someone’s activity right on their LinkedIn home page. When you click on “See all activity” you can check out what they’ve posted, what they’ve commented on, and what they’ve liked. Each of those gives you insight into that individual.
If the person is someone who has the potential to become a client this is a great way to try to understand what’s important to them and what they value. It allows you to start thinking about who you are, what you offer, and how that combination might help a prospective client.
Take time to comment.
When someone comments on your post, do your best to reply and acknowledge them. Reciprocity dictates if they took time to read your post and comment then you should do the same. This is a great step towards ongoing communication.
This approach often starts dialog and leads to relationship building. Your comments should not be offers. Look at them as opportunities to engage people in conversation and get to know them.
When is it right to reach out?
Only once you know someone can you begin to understand how you might help them. When you begin to get a sense of this then you might want to gently reach out. Maybe send a LinkedIn message like this:
“Sam, we’ve been connected for a while and I’ve noticed based on some of your posts and comments that it’s a high priority for you and your organization that people respect diversity and inclusion. I’m not sure how many of my posts you’ve seen but a good number have been on this topic. Because of that I thought I’d reach out to share a recent article I wrote on D&I. I hope you find it helpful.”
At the end of the message put a link to the article. This still isn’t asking anything of them. You’re simply sharing content they might find useful. Remember early on in this series I said content was king. This is your opportunity to share something that gives insight into how you think and how you operate. When you start doing this routinely with the right people in a personalized way, it can be a great door opener for you.
I’m tempted to say all of this is just common sense but it’s too easy to look around and see a lack of common sense. In reality, we’re taught common sense and each of us can learn a few new “dos” and “don’ts” to avoid pitfalls and grow a strong network of LinkedIn connections.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was a new release bestseller in several Amazon categories.
Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on the application of persuasion in sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 350,000 people around the world.