Thursday, March 14, 2013
Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2013 by International Coach Federation
You go to networking event after networking event, meet lots of business people, but when you get back to your office you leave the business cards you collected on your desk.
They seem to multiply. Lurking in dusty little piles.
One of the biggest mistakes coaches make is not maintaining a personal connection with their valuable business contacts. But there’s a free tool that can help! LinkedIn® is a business-oriented social networking site that enables users to stay connected with their business contacts and create new business relationships.
Because LinkedIn has 187 million members, who have an average income of $109,000 (40 percent of which hold a position of manager or higher). And LinkedIn is one of the most used social networks in the world, with an average of 2.8 visits per member per month.
What Can LinkedIn Do for You?
LinkedIn can help you connect with important business contacts on a regular basis and it can help potential clients find you.
All you have to do is type in the names of your business contacts and send a “LinkedIn Invitation” to them (or better yet, scan the business cards and upload them in batches). Once a business connection accepts your invitation, they become part of your LinkedIn network.
LinkedIn is a contact database on steroids. It’s got a wealth of information on each contact:
- Contact information
- Work and education history
- List of connections (who they know)
- Recommendations and information on the writers of their recommendations
- Group memberships
- Status updates
What LinkedIn Can’t Do
LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool. But business won’t magically appear just because you’re on LinkedIn. As Chef Gordon Ramsey of “Hell’s Kitchen” has said, “... business doesn’t just come and sit on your lap, you’ve gotta go looking for it and if you don’t you’re going to fail.”
So that’s why most people have a LinkedIn account, but don’t get much out of it. LinkedIn is not a replacement for the in-person contact needed to build business relationships, rather it’s a tool to enhance relationship building.
You still need to talk to people on the phone, meet with them for coffee, see them at networking events, or at the very least, send them a personal note via LinkedIn or email. You still need to interact with them on a human level.
How Can You Use LinkedIn to Build Business Relationships?
1. Send “LinkedIn Invitations” to every quality contact you meet. Personalize the invitation to build a foundation for the relationship: “It was nice meeting you at the MGMA Meeting. I enjoyed our discussion about Pay for Performance. I would like to continue to build our business relationship and am inviting you to link with me on LinkedIn.”
There are many ways to use LinkedIn to build business relationships, for example, you can:
1. Review a contact’s LinkedIn profile, once they accept your “LinkedIn Request,” send them an email highlighting the experience, education, or connections that you have in common.
2. Review a contact’s LinkedIn profile before a phone call so you can target questions to address their business needs.
3. Take a contact’s LinkedIn profile with you to coffee or lunch and use it to build rapport.
4. Review the profiles of key people in a networking group, prior to attending an event, to:
- Select people to look for
- Help you recognize them
- Prepare questions to initiate meaningful business conversations
There are many ways to meet new business contacts on LinkedIn. You can find them in:
- A “people” Search
- A friend’s connection list
- A group
- A comment they made in a group or the “answers” section
- They can also find you in one of the ways listed above
Once you become more active on LinkedIn, you will begin to get more “LinkedIn Invitations” from people. Converting them from a stranger to a client does not have to be a difficult process. Here’s an example of the process I use:
1. Let’s say a woman named Sara sends you a “LinkedIn Invitation.”
2. If you don’t know Sara, look at her LinkedIn Profile (occupation, work history, education and connections) to determine if she is a potential coaching candidate.
3. If Sara is a potential coaching client, write a LinkedIn email to her to ask for a “get to know you” phone call. NOTE: Don’t accept her “LinkedIn Invitation” until after the call and make it easy for her to schedule the call by offering three times you’re available. If Sara doesn’t look like a viable candidate, either accept the invitation (if being linked to her could be beneficial) or archive it.
4. Before the phone call, review Sara’s LinkedIn Profile and create questions to build rapport: “I really enjoyed attending UCLA, did you?” And uncover her pain points: “What keeps you from accomplishing what you want to accomplish?”
5. Come to the call with curiosity and the intent of building a business relationship with Sara.
6. On the call, ask: “What attracted you to send a ‘LinkedIn Invitation’ to me?”
If she is considering hiring a coach (I get this response about 25 percent of the time):
- Ask: “What is compelling you to look for a coach?”
- After letting her know how coaching can help her with her issues, make an attempt to enroll Sara into your coaching practice: “Are you ready to sign up for coaching?”
- Or if you sense she’s not ready to enroll or your enrollment attempt fails, offer her a sample coaching session.
If she isn’t looking for a coach:
- Ask her questions to uncover her pain points.
- Tell her how coaching can help her.
- Offer her a sample coaching session. (I have enrolled many clients this way).
8. When she chooses a date and time, send her your welcome package.
1. LinkedIn process: www.linkedin.com
2. Gordon Ramsay quote: I wrote this down while watching the show. Here a reference to it: http://ventstation.blogspot.com/2007/12/marketing-advice-from-gordon-ramsay.html
3. Definition of LinkedIn from PC Magazine: http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t=LinkedIn&i=60336,00.asp
Donna Schilder, MCC, Leadership, Career, and Business Coach (and Coach U Graduate) is the creator of the “6 Weeks to More Success Through LinkedIn” Video E-Course: getlinkedinnow.com. In the E-Course, in teleseminars, and in individual coaching sessions, Donna helps coaches and businesspeople leverage LinkedIn to get more clients and/or job offers (with step-by-step instructions for the online process and real business strategies). In addition, Donna coaches executives, consultants, coaches, and public speakers to break through what blocks them from achieving wild success. Connect with Donna on LinkedIn, donnaschilder.com, and @GetLinkedInNow. This article was first featured in the February 2013 issue of Coaching World.