With all hyperbole aside, I can honestly say this is the single biggest (and most important) improvement to LinkedIn lead generation efforts since the platform’s inception.
It involves the ability to have casual, 1-on-1 conversations in real time (similar to text messaging) with your ideal prospects and potential clients on the world’s largest platform for professionals.
“New LinkedIn data shows that more than one-third of members have surfaced new opportunities through casual conversations via messaging on LinkedIn,” noted LinkedIn’s Julie Inouye in a recent post. “And we know timing is everything when striking up a conversation, so we’re making it easier for you to know when your connections are available and active on LinkedIn. Whether you’re messaging a friend, scrolling through your feed, or checking your notifications, simply look for the green status dot to see if your connection is online.”
The Magic Green Dot
Think about it: LinkedIn’s new messaging experience essentially replaces the need for face-to-face networking.
Because of your ability to instantly scan someone’s profile, see conversation starters (where someone lives, works, went to school, etc.) and then engage in a real-time, 1-on-1 conversation, you can now chat up prospects at a scale like never before.
With an ability to see when a potential client or customer is active on the platform, you can instantly engage him or her in a conversation, going back-and-forth like you do via text or instant messaging.
With the ability to add images, attach files or send GIFs, you can also quickly move from casual conversations and ice breakers into talking business.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
“One-quarter of professionals globally have established a new business partnership through having a conversation on LinkedIn Messaging,” LinkedIn’s Blair Decembrele shared in a recent post. “If you find someone you’re interested in working with, send them a message – they could wind up as your newest business partner.”
I cannot state this with enough emphasis: LinkedIn’s revamped Messaging experience is now the fastest, easiest and most effective way to generate leads and add new clients using the platform.
What To Say in Your LinkedIn Messages
Now, knowing what to say inside those 1-on-1 messages is the next big step.
After all, it’s one thing to find a warm lead, get connected, and then break the ice with a personalized note.
However, far too many people make the mistake of immediately trying to ask for someone’s time, attention or (worst of all) money right up front.
Remember, you don’t try and marry someone on your first (professional) date.
Instead, there is a very specific sequence of messages you must utilize and implement in order to take someone from new connection to paying client.
Just like in real life, you must first break the ice and build some rapport with your new connection. Next, you need to demonstrate your authority and expertise by actually helping the person. This could be via free tips, advice or content you have available online, or by giving someone insight and advice directly inside the messages you send.
Either way, you have to first bring someone else value and show you can help solve his or her biggest professional problems before you ever ask for his or her time, attention or money.
(Go here to see a case study of how one of my LinkedIn Riches did just that.)
On LinkedIn, 1-on-1 Messages Mean Business
If you’re not already actively using LinkedIn’s revamped messaging features, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to win new business.
Make sure you’re paying attention to real-time opportunities to “chat up” your ideal prospects on the platform, and use the approach I’ve outlined in this post to engage them!
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.