Ironically, I started my career in the ad business, but have spent much of my marketing career identifying ways to increase credible sales leads without paying for advertising. When I began Marketing Eye Dallas over a year ago, I had the backing of a strong international brand. Unfortunately, the Marketing Eye International name was virtually unknown in my region and my client base started from scratch.  Since it takes time to build a name, network, referrals and  online presence, I started building my business through LinkedIn. 

Here are a few things I have learned in the last year as I have grown my connections x100, built a solid base, and landed some terrific accounts.
How to generate leads on LinkedIn without advertising

1. Connect

You can have thousands of connections, but if they aren't your target audience, you may not see results. Use advanced search tools to pinpoint your targets. You don't have to search by the name of the company or person, you can search by keyword, industry, location, and more.

I'm pretty open about accepting requests.  Sometimes I find that someone has a client or knows someone who is interested in my services. Also, think that when you make a connection you are actually connecting with that person's network.  You never know where that next lead may come from.

If you are short on time, the 'Keep in touch' section is a lazy networker's dream. Under the "Connections" tab, LinkedIn makes it super simple to find little ways to connect with people in your network. You can see congratulate someone on a work anniversary, new job, or switching cities.

2.  Personalize LinkedIn connection requests
When you connect to someone for the first time on LinkedIn, don't just use the generic message option, "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." You must be on a computer, because sending this generic message is the only option on a mobile device.

Take a few moments to write something personalized. It will make the recipient more open to your request and the message feel less spammy. Once again,if you are on your mobile device, you won't be able to customize a message, so this is when being on a computer can make a big difference.

Also, never lie about how you know the person. Lying is almost a guaranteed way to kill your chances at connecting. I let people know upfront why I can connecting with them.  If they are a business or industry leader they may know someone who is needing marketing services.  Likewise I may have a client needing their services.

3. Send a follow-up message
When someone connects with me I send a follow-up message.  I'm sure I've missed a few, but I make a point to be diligent in thanking them for connecting.  I have been able to land several great meetings by follow-up with a short message.

As with the invitation request, personalize the message.  I do have a few boiler plate messages about my business, but I also add a personalized line letting people know I viewed their profile.

If you are wanting a meeting with this person, ask.  This is a professional platform and I have yet to find anyone who comes back to me with an unprofessional response.

4. Post Content
Publishing posts as part of your professional LinkedIn profile builds credibility. If it is good original content, you will be seen as a thought leader. You don't have to be a famous blogger or writer to share valuable content. Publish posts that showcase your expertise to build and stay top of mind with your network.

You can also share these posts in specific groups or to specific individuals. This will ensure that the audience you are wanting to reach sees your content.

If you are a non-writer, but wish to share content, this is possible too.  As discussed in my earlier blog on LinkedIn, you can share articles from many online sources and then add your comments. 

If you post blogs to your own website you can share these on LinkedIn.  The advantage is that you drive your LinkedIn network to your website (and it helps with website SEO).  Also, when people view your profile on LinkedIn they will see pasts posts.

I will admit I get fewer responses when sharing a blog from my website than publishing on LinkedIn directly. 

5. Run an email marketing campaign 
Another good way to stay top of mind is with an email campaign.  I've used Constant Contact for years and I know many who use Chimp Mail.  LinkedIn claims that their InMail system delivers double the open rate of other email campaigns.  While I have yet to try it, I will say that staying in touch and top of mind with your client base is vital.

The emails I have received through LinkedIn InMail are delivered without all the layout and graphics used by competitive products.  Where I have seen InMail to be successful is inviting individuals within your network to a business event, webinar or roundtable. You select who receives the message so it does not need to be blasted to everyone.

Your LinkedIn presence acts as a gateway to your brand. There are more ways to use your network, but the ones highlighted in this blog are the best to use to get started. If you need help making LinkedIn and other marketing tools work for you business This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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