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Are You Giving People Access to Your In Box by Accepting LinkedIn Connections

I love that special time every day when the mail truck arrives.  I run out to get the mail.  I set aside those letters that are personally addressed to me so I can open the junk mail first.  After opening the junk mail I then go for the blind advertisements and set aside any that I can sign up for to get more junk mail.  I then go back to the junk mail and give the requestor all my information so I can receive other junk mail.  If you have read this far you are probably saying, “Gerry is nuts.”  Let me explain.

Getting referrals is the heart of what I do to get new business, and I hope it is for many of you.  It keeps our pipelines full.  One hundred percent of my business is by referral and should be a goal for all of us.  Those of us who are in sales (we are all in sales) know that one of the best ways to get referred is to ask for referrals.  When interviewing prospective clients and those who are existing clients, one of the hardest things to do in the selling process is to ask for referrals.  The best tool I have found is to ask for referrals through LinkedIn.  The best way I know to ask for a referral is to be able to see who you want to do business with by being able to qualify them as your pure market match.  Our first level connections are the best to ask when knowing who it is that is your pure market match.  When you can see your first level connections, people you already have established a know, like, and trust relationship with, you can then ask first level connections to connect you to someone in their network who matches someone that you can help.  Creating a method for asking becomes a crucial step in this activity.

So here is the dilemma.  Most of you are accepting every invitation to connect on LinkedIn that comes your way.  Most of these connections are people you have yet to meet.  The way I know this is that when asking my connections for a referral, more than 50 percent of the time I am told, “Gerry, I do not know that person.”  The reason I believe that many of you are doing this is the belief that the person with the most connections goes to Heaven and is first in the line.  I am here to burst your bubble.  The person with the highest quality connections goes to heaven and is the first in the line.

Many of you are probably scratching your heads right now.  It is your understanding that LinkedIn is to be used as a tool much like the early days of networking.  Some of you still invest your time doing it.  You go to networking meetings where the goal is to be noticed.  Maybe you wear a hat, a nice suit of clothes, and bring brochures to pass out with your business information.  There you exchange business cards and set coffee dates to reconnect, so you can build a know, like, and trust relationship.  It is all good as you are getting measurable results that give you the expected return on your time investment.  When transferring similar consciousness to our LinkedIn social media activity, we make sure our picture is unique so as someone might stop to see how creative we are.  We publish articles and books to our connections so that people can “like us.”  Most of you reading this have over 500 LinkedIn connections.  Statistically, how many people who are my first level connections, who want to do business with my first level connections will ever see your posts by chance or even if they run a key word search?  Without doing the math I can predict that the chance of making the connection is very low.  The greater likelihood of making the connection is doing a LinkedIn search describing your market match with key words, then asking your first level connection for an introduction to their first level connection, who is your second level connection.  The idea is to get to the decision maker who you can help and who is authorized to write the check.

To summarize this and make it simple, let’s look at this example.  I give you a magic telephone. The magic telephone is yours for 24 hours.  Every time you dial ten numbers into the telephone it will turn into a new piece of business.  In the next 24 hours, how many breaks would you take and stop dialing?  My answer is none, and I hope the same is true for you.  My point is, we always want to be the one who is taking action to get in front of our market match.  We want to be the one who is asking the buying questions.  When we are waiting to get noticed it is the same as the store owner who creates a store front, stocks his shelves with inventory, then pulls up a chair to the cash register and waits for business to walk through the door.  It can happen, yet it is a slow process for creating a successful business.

I want to encourage you to consider accepting every connection request. From now and into the future qualify that connection so as to establish a relationship.  Remember LinkedIn is part of social media.  As defined, social “relating to people or society in general, involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other” per Webster.  Here is a way to get social with your requestor you have yet to meet.  Reply to their request to connect by responding to their email request rather than connecting immediately.  In your response say, “Thank you for asking me to be part of your LinkedIn connections.  How can we help each other?”  Some of my colleagues go one step further and add as the second sentence, “How do we know each other?”  As most of you know,  LinkedIn etiquette tells us to only connect to people you know well.  The reason that the question, “How can we help each other?” is so important is that the person asking to connect might be interested in doing business with you.  They also might want to refer business to you.

In 2011 I started asking the question, “How can we help each other?” from people I had yet to meet.  This guy responded asking me if we could speak by telephone.  Coming back from a client meeting in Los Angeles that day, we spoke for 35 minutes.  By then I was in my driveway in Oceanside.  He was in Carlsbad.  He asked if we could meet.  He came to my home office in Oceanside a half hour later.  We spoke that afternoon for three hours about how we could help each other grow our businesses.  Since then he has tripled his fees.  I have received many wonderful connections, created two new product offerings all from asking the simple question, “How can we help each other?”

Getting back to our junk mail, none of us will consciously give our information to any random advertiser to fill our mail boxes with spam.  Yet we allow access to our business mail boxes by connecting to every request to connect.  Sure, my suggestion takes an extra two steps, sending the email and waiting for the response.  However, is the extra time needed to go through every piece of junk email worthy of your time investment?  I will let you ponder that.

For me and LinkedIn, I have two goals.  One goal is to eliminate people who will not connect me to their warm market.  The second goal is add only connections that want to use LinkedIn as a business tool.  Taking this line you have to be prepared to share your connections with those in your LinkedIn connections.

 

Gerry Rose runs INTEGRITY Networking Solutions in Oceanside, CA.  He works with people in business who want to attract the right prospects and generate more referrals.  More than 10,000 businesses have been presented the INTEGRITY Networking Solutions system in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange Counties.

Gerry’s stimulating presentation Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals is ideally suited for small business owners, home-based businesses, and independent professionals who want clearer direction and want to attract more prospects, develop dynamic systems, and strengthen their companies’ accountability.  Gerry does one on one consulting, conducts a range of keynote speeches from thirty minutes to full-day education workshops.  His book series, Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, are available on the website, www.integritysd.com.

Gerry has more than 20 years’ experience directing business owners how to grow their businesses.  He is a networking dynamo.  Those who know him will assure you that he does a great job of bringing people together—which is why he started INTEGRITY.

Involved with networking organizations since 1984, Gerry is a Distinguished Toastmaster, a member of Toastmaster International, and has chaired numerous chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations.

Are you truly committed to attracting the right prospects and generate more referrals?  If so then contact INTEGRITY Networking Solutions for availability and information.  You can contact Gerry by mail at 1610 Quiet Hills Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056.  Direct dial (760) 439-4623; e-mail to gerry@integritysd.com.  For more information, go to www.integritysd.com

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