An Unusual But Valuable LinkedIn Search: Content

Most people don’t realize that they can search for content on LinkedIn, but here are four good reasons why you might want to start:

1) you are doing research on a topic.

2) you want to see if other people are writing about, have recently written about, or have covered an aspect of a topic you are thinking of writing about.

3) you are looking for prospects and this is the type of thing they would be reading and commenting on.

4) you want to see if your competitors are writing about a topic.

All you need to do is to type the word or expression in the search bar, click enter and then click on “posts”

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If you use an expression, put quotation marks around it. For example, if you want to look for people writing about genome sequencing, search for “genome sequencing”, as the quotation marks tell Linkedin to look for those two words together. Without the quotation marks, LinkedIn will look for the two words, but not necessarily together.

And a word about hashtags: not everyone uses them, so I usually don’t search for them. I think I got better results from “genome sequencing” than from #genomesequencing.

Try it. Once you have tried it a couple times, you will start thinking of ways to use it to your advantage.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. For some reason LinkedIn gave me early access to the LinkedIn Newsletter. I have no idea why, but thanks for reading.

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains three articles like the one above, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

How I Increased My LinkedIn Message Response Rates

Anyone home? (photo courtesy Mark Johnston)

A simple idea that improved (as in quintupled) my response rates to messages on LinkedIn. It can for you too.

So you are sending outreach messages on LinkedIn and your response rate is abysmal. See if you do any of the following in order to improve your situation:

1. Improve your message writing skills

2. Change your call to action at the end

3. Work on improving your subject lines

4. Try sending your messages at different times of the day

5. And different days of the week

6. Throw money at the problem

May I suggest that before you do anything else you should check to make sure that the person you are trying to contact actually sees value in LinkedIn and uses it regularly.

Let’s say I find someone who nominally fits my customer demographic. I check their profile and here is what I see:

  • They have something like 122 connections.
  • And no activity.
  • No meat in their experience sections, just company, title and years worked there, in other words, the bare bones.
  • They have eight skills listed, each of which has been endorsed by three or four people.

I can see that this person places little value in LinkedIn as a work tool, and that they likely come around every couple months…or less often than that.

It doesn’t matter how good my message may be. If the other person is not there to see it, how can I hope for a response?

The last statistic I saw said that sixty percent of LinkedIn users show up less than once a month. So what percentage use LinkedIn at least once every two weeks? Twenty?

My point is that sending a message to someone who will next come around to LinkedIn around Thanksgiving is not a recipe for success. And my guess is that someone who doesn’t see any value in coming around to LinkedIn that often is not going to carefully go through all the messages and notifications that have piled up since the last time they were here. So my goal is to identify that unresponsive crowd and avoid sending them messages on LinkedIn. For those people I will try introductions or referrals (via email), or Twitter, or cold calls for that matter.

One of the advantages of LinkedIn is you can get a fair idea of who the regular users are – you can see lots of connections or followers, you can see if they are active, and you can see if they have a completed profile with things like lots of recommendations and endorsements. When I send a message to someone who fits in this category I can feel confident that they will see my message, and because they are a regular LinkedIn user who sees value in LinkedIn, at least give me a fair hearing.

Not hard to do. Doesn’t cost a pile of money. And can increase the number of responses you get by two to five times.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. For some reason LinkedIn gave me early access to the LinkedIn Newsletter. I have no idea why, but I am very thankful, especially as this feature’s rollout speed could, at its kindest, be called “stately.”

I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

Well, What Is In It For Them, Anyway?

As I am always going on about, “it’s not about you, it’s about them” in your interactions with others on LinkedIn – especially in connecting and outreach – it was only a matter of time before I got asked this.

I had someone ask me this the other week. They were sending connection requests to prospective customers and they were having a tough time coming up with a good reason for the person to connect with them.

To their credit, they were honest with me in describing the situation. “I want business from them, so this is kind of a one way street. What can I offer them?”

This is what happens when we have the blinders on. We see something we want – in this case a connection to a hot prospect – and all we can see is what that will do for us. It blinds us to the other person’s perspective and their problems, wants and needs.

There are three things you can offer the person you are connecting with.

1) Your knowledge. Everyone seems to forget this. You spend every hour of every day helping people like your prospect solve the problem they have. This is what you do. While it may be a new and novel situation for them, it’s something you see all the time. They are the person looking online for the recipe for a dinner dish, while you’re a chef who cooks twenty of those every night.

2) Your experience with their industry. This is different from your knowledge in that you are putting the knowledge into practice in different situations. This is important because your past experience solving problems like the ones they have will reassure them that you are someone worthwhile they should know.

3) Lastly, you have something that is uniquely LinkedIn: your network of connections. And this applies to most anyone you meet on LinkedIn. If you have any size network at all you have the ability to introduce or refer this new person to someone they want to know. Need help with CRM? I have connections who work for CRM companies, I have connections who are independent CRM consultants, and ones that are CRM power users. People in similar positions to themselves? No problem. Suppliers? Got you covered.

Access to your network is actually a pretty powerful thing to be able to offer.

Your job in making your request to connect or in sending an outreach message for that matter, is to show the recipient that the potential benefits of responding are compelling.

Obligatory boilerplate: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. But I was an early subscriber to Sales Navigator and have a grandfathered subscription where I pay a lot less than I should. Don’t tell LinkedIn. Thanks.

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

The 8 Components Of An Effective LinkedIn Outreach Message

I have been using InMail as an outreach method on LinkedIn for years. I am good at it – I usually get a response rate ranging from sixty to sixty-five percent, depending on what I am trying to accomplish with a given program. 

Most people are not good at InMail: they take a couple swipes at it, get lousy – or no – responses, and give up. 

This week, I thought I would cover the eight basics I use for any InMail. These eight ideas are also transferable and usable in your emails. This is not an in depth InMail how-to. When I teach how to put InMails together to a client or a company, it usually takes three Zoom sessions, with lots of practice in between. Some people are put off by that idea, but I make no apologies. A sixty percent response rate takes work. 

If there is one overriding principle behind my InMail teachings it is that you write a specific personalized message for each specific individual you are sending a message. When you send a generic message to twenty individuals you will get a generic response rate, that is, a low one. When you send twenty individualized messages to twenty individuals you will get a very good response rate. Most people are used to getting crappy messages, so that when we send a good one it really stands out.  

Component #1: Send your message to people who will see it

Sounds silly doesn’t it? But this is the biggest single problem I see with using LinkedIn for outreach. As maybe 80% of LinkedIn users use LinkedIn less than once every couple weeks, 80% of your messages are going to people who either won’t see them, or yours is just one more message that has piled up since the last time they used LinkedIn.

If you have a 3% response rate now, paying attention to this idea alone can quintuple your response rate. 

Component #2: A great subject or title line

The role of the subject line is to make your recipient want to read the message. That’s it. 

Component #3: A hyper personalized message

What personalization is not: “Hi <insert first name>, I see you are the <their job title> at <their company.>  Hyper personalization means writing something that shows you have done their research; it means mentioning something that is completely idiosyncratic to them. This involves research, but it is worth it because you want to show the recipient that this message has been written specifically for him or her.

Component #4: Establish your credibility

There are several ways you can do this. The best way to do this is to allude to the specific, tangible results you got for someone or some company that the recipient knows. 

Component #5: Provide the reason you are reaching out to them

Many salespeople are taught that they should hide the “real” reason they are contacting someone. If you do a good job with these InMail components, the recipient will understand why you are reaching out to them and they will be willing to respond. 

Component #6: Focus on their potential results

Always, always, always talk in terms of their results. And there are effective ways of doing this that they will accept and be interested in. There are effective ways of doing this and setting them up so that the only question they have is, “How do they do that?” 

Component #7: Have a call to action that is realistic

Too many people over reach. They ask for a sales call or to set up a demo or a trial in the first message. That’s ridiculous. 

Component #8: Make it short. 

You should aim for 100 words. 80 would be ideal. That’s the real art in an outreach message, whether it is via InMail or Email. Can you accomplish everything I have listed above in eighty or a hundred words? Yes, it absolutely can be done.

If you went back over the last few outreach messages you sent, how many of these eight would be present?

 

 

Who Shows Up In Your LinkedIn Homepage Feed?

A lot of people complain because they don’t see their Connections’ activity on LinkedIn. What they don’t realize is that there is no way they could realisitically see it all even if LinkedIn did present it to them…and LinkedIn may actually be doing so.

Allow me a small diversion in order to illustrate this.

I have just over 5,000 connections. In the past thirty days over 2,000 of them posted on LinkedIn (I have a Sales Navigator account where I can run a specific search and find this number), an average of sixty every day. So in order to see all my connections activity there are sixty posts a day from those people that LinkedIn needs to somehow stuff into my feed so that I have the chance to see them.

  • That’s if those posts are spread out evenly over the 30 days in a month so there are only sixty or so a day,
  • and that’s if I log into LinkedIn every day and posts aren’t piling up while I am gone resulting in a backlog of posts LinkedIn needs to show me from the days I was off LinkedIn,
  • and those 2,000 people only posted once each.

And even if all of those unlikely conditions can be met, those sixty posts have to be shoehorned in and around all the other stuff in my feed – group posts, paid ads, new comments on posts I commented on, the always bizarre “maybe Bruce didn’t see this post the first time so let’s keep showing it at the top of his feed till he does something with it” posts and so on.

Now it is completely possible that in fact LinkedIn is placing those sixty or more posts in my feed every day. After all, LinkedIn does say that when you post that it is put in your connections’ feeds (I looked it up in the LinkedIn Help section, that statement is there). But with those sixty posts interleaved with all that other content I mentioned above, I am going to have to do a lot of scrolling to see them. Or let me put it another way: when you logged in to LinkedIn today, how far down did you scroll in your Homepage feed?

So LinkedIn is left with a conundrum: if we can’t show Bruce everything, how do we figure which of it is the most relevant stuff to show him?

Enter the Connection Strength Score. Another of LinkedIn’s many algorithms, this one tries to figure out whose content would be most relevant to you by calculating which of your connections you are closest to. It does this by looking at which of your LinkedIn connections you have interacted with lately, and how often you have done so. We don’t know if it weighs different types of interactions in different ways, but that seems likely. So if you have a connection you have not interacted with in months, and another you have been trading comments with on a post over the past few days, and both of those connections publish a post this afternoon, which one do you think LinkedIn will favor to put prominenly in your feed? Correct, the recent publisher, the person who currently has a higher connection strength score.

And “currently” is the operative word there, as one thing I have figured out is that the CSS is transient. If you and I interact a lot over a three month period and then we each take two weeks off LinkedIn, our CSS seems to reset back to zero. There appears to be a heavy reliance on recency in the CSS. And that’s smart, because who is more likely to read, comment, share or otherwise engage with your next post, someone you have been trading comments with in the past few days, or someone you haven’t engaged with in months?

This explains why when you comment on my post and we trade messages back and forth on LinkedIn, all of a sudden my posts are all over your feed.

This brings me to Following on LinkedIn. If I follow someone, the reason I usually do so is in order to see more of their content. But how does LinkedIn put that content in front of me given the absolute packed feed I already have from my connections, promoted posts and other sources? This may indirectly explain why Following doesn’t seem to “work” that well on LinkedIn. And it may explain the role of LinkedIn Newsletters. As Newsletters are nominally “guaranteed” to be delivered via notifications to subscribers, this may be the feature that LinkedIn is ultimately counting on to solve the Homepage Feed issue.

And one final note: if you do want to follow specific people – and companies for that matter – you can do so if you have Sales Navigator by designating them as “leads”. Your Sales Navigator feed consists only of the people and companies you want there in that feed.

What are your thoughts on this? Is LinkedIn getting it right? Getting better or worse?

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. LinkedIn gave me early access to this Newsletter feature. I have no idea why, but thanks for reading.

Want more like this? I publish an email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

Make Your LinkedIn Outreach Messages Short

There is a time and a place for storytelling, and your outreach message is not that place.

This is one of the hardest parts of writing a good outreach message or InMail. Given practice and some coaching I find people can write gorgeous InMails…that are two hundred and fifty words long. Figuring out how and where to take 60% of that verbiage out is where the real work is. Because the general rule of thumb for InMail message length is 100 words. The result is most people either give up and send their message regardless, or they make some quick edist, get to 135 to 150 words and call it a day.

I, on the other hand, consider 100 words to be my limit, and my goal is to always try for 80. In outreach, brevity is huge. You can’t afford any flab in there as the prospect’s attention will wander and then you are toast.

So to start with, remember what we need to accomplish in those 80-100 words.

  • Tell them why I am contacting them
  • Customized to them personally
  • Establishes your credibility as an expert
  • Alludes to their results (sometimes called a value snippet)
  • A call to action

Heck, there’s 30 words in those five bullet points!

Here is the process I use:

1) I write each bullet point separately.

2) Then I cobble them together. This usually requires some changes in the wording in order to be able to segue from one point to the next.

3) Then I count the words. Often some swearing is involved when I see how many words my first draft has.

4) Then I get my word processing machete out and go to work.

Here are some tips that help me a lot:

A lot of the verbal flab actually falls away pretty quickly. You can dump the written equivalents of saying “um”…like giving your name. That was in the InMail header. It’s unnecessary.

If you can figure out how to make it work, combine two of these objectives in one sentence. Credibility and their results can often be combined for example. Find a company they would know that you have worked with and allude to the results that you got for them.

Take any sentence you have written and challenge yourself to say the same thing in half the words. You might surprise yourself when you see how close you can come to doing this. I don’t often make the half, but two thirds is usually doable.

Try it yourself. I think you will like the results. In outreach messages, length does not mean strength.

LinkedIn’s Agenda Is Not Necessarily Your Agenda

It’s all in your perspective: You see a teddy gear. The teddy bear sees lunch.
LinkedIn is on a roll these days introducing lots of new features.
But a lot of these features are experiments. If they work, great. If they don’t that will be the end of the feature. A lot of these features are just copies of what is working elsewhere. Video is huge somewhere else? LinkedIn is all over it. Stories are big? Tiktok? Here we come.
 LinkedIn’s product managers are no smarter than you or I.
You have to remember that what LinkedIn wants from us is three things:
  • Our money via subscriptions or advertising dollars. LinkedIn should never be confused with Mother Theresa.
  • Our time. The more time we spend on LinkedIn, the more money LinkedIn can charge advertisers.
  • Our data. The more info we have on our profiles, the more lucrative LinkedIn is as a platform for the sales, marketing and recruiting people that make up the majority of their customer base.
I have no problem with the first one, the subscription and advertising dollars, that’s obvious. I have no problem with the third one either because that is easily controlled and we understand that. It’s the time one in the middle that is insidious and that we need to watch out for.
Getting more utility out of LinkedIn is nice, but for LinkedIn, getting you to spend more time on LinkedIn is nicer. So you will see features that appeal to your vanity like post views. You will see features that make you think you are not spending enough time on LinkedIn like the Social Selling Index. And you will see features like LinkedIn Stories that quite frankly are a complete and utter waste of your time.
So when you see any new feature on LinkedIn or suggestions as to what you should be doing on LinkedIn, remember that LinkedIn is making that recommendation because it is good for LinkedIn. If it is good for you, that’s a bonus. It’s like the old joke we used to make at a company I worked with twenty years ago, that our ideal customer had to have a pulse and be able to pay their bill. And if push came to shove, the pulse was optional.
LinkedIn can be just as dangerous a time suck as TikTok, Instagram or any other platform. Your time is precious. Have a plan for how you use LinkedIn and stick to that plan.

Solving The “I don’t know what to write about on LinkedIn” Problem

“I don’t know what to write about.” is one of the two objections I get when I talk to people about writing content for LinkedIn or elsewhere.

If you are one of those people, here is an exercise that will help. Take out a pad and pen, or open a new document on your laptop. 

Answer these questions. Take your time. 

1) What is the specific problem that your product or service solves for your client?

If you can’t answer this one, your problems are bigger than not knowing what to write about! 

2) What issues do your clients face?

What do they need to do that they can’t do now? Or what they want to do, but they don’t have enough information to tackle it yet. Note that the answer to these questions may be as simple as “increase sales by 5%” or as complex as “address new market opportunity.” 

3) What is their current solution? 

How are they addressing the issues in question number two currently? 

4) Why are they unhappy with it?

This is the “gap” question, and it is critical. What is your prospect’s perceived gap between where they are now and where they would like to be? 

5) What information do they need?

In order to close the gap, they need to do something. The information they need may range from something as simple as “how do we get a little bit better at what we are already doing” to something more open ended like “is it possible to close the gap?”

6) How do we reduce the fear of making a wrong decision?

This is where we come in. We are in possession of the information they need to feel comfortable with the decisions they are making. In the end, it’s all about risk. And your customer wants to know how they can lower the risk of doing something.

7) What kind of information will help the client?

What specific information can we provide that will help them in their decision making? 

8) Is it targeted at a specific personna?

Who does your information target? The user, the buyer, the technical influencer? You may need to tailor your content for the specific audience you have in mind. 

9) How does this content help me reach my business goals?

What specifically does providing this content do for me? Provide credibility? Proof that they belong in the funnel? Proof they don’t? 

10) Does this information help the client?

Sanity check: this had better help the client and not just help me!

And another thing: At the top I mentioned two objections I always get. The other objection is “I don’t write that well.” Which is b.s. Everyone of us can tell stories, it’s in our nature as human beings. A lot of my work with my clients is helping them see that they have a lot of good stories that their prospective customers would find interesting and educational. 

For all you reluctant writers and publishers ut there, repeat after me: 

“This isn’t’ rocket science.”

Have a process.

Work the process.

Get feedback.

Adjust the process.

Repeat the process.

 

Anatomy Of A Failed Outreach Message

Let’s look at a message I received in my InBox recently and see just why it, and ones like it, fail miserably. I have changed the name and company to protect the guilty party (as you will see, they have enough trouble already without me piling on).

Hi Bruce,

 My name is David from Lead Madness. 

For the past year, we’ve been helping Digital Marketing Agencies connect with High-Net-Worth Prospects on LinkedIn looking for help with building funnels, attracting clients, website creation, paid ad assitance, and more.

 On average we are assisting in adding an average of 10 – 15+ automatically booked calls on their calendars and 1-3+ signed agreements.

 We are trying to get into contact with network groups to do an overall campaign for a franchise network.

 Do you have some time to talk?

Regards,

David

Here’s my calendar to book an intro call:

https://calendly.com/etc etc

Okay, let’s break this message down.

Hi Bruce,

My name is David from Lead Madness. 

What he did: This first sentence is unnecessary, as he is listed as the sender of the message by LinkedIn or by my email software. He has added the company name, but that is best used elsewhere.

What he could have done: Left this sentence out. You don’t have much time to get my attention and this is not going to do it.

For the past year, we’ve been helping Digital Marketing Agencies connect with High-Net-Worth Prospects on LinkedIn looking for help with building funnels, attracting clients, website creation, paid ad assitance, and more.

What he did: It’s amazing how much can go wrong in one sentence.

  • “For the past year” tells me they have been in business for a year. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to stay away from people with one year of experience, whether they are surgeons, lawyers, or lead generation specialists.
  • Next, David has assumed I am a Digital Marketing Agency going after High Net Worth Prospects. David apparently has not bothered to look at my LinkedIn Profile.
  • Note also that David’s company offers multiple different services “and more.” When I started in sales we used to call this the “shopping cart approach.” I am going to tell you about everything we do, and you can just stop me when I get to something you are interested in and put it in the shopping cart.
  • And not proofing your outreach message to catch the misspelling of “assistance” does not reflect well on his attention to detail.

What he could have done: Made one point and made it well. Something like, “We specialize in website design. I had a quick look at your website and there are four easy changes we could help you with that would result in a 50% increase in visitors.”

On average we are assisting in adding an average of 10 – 15+ automatically booked calls on their calendars and 1-3+ signed agreements.

What he did: “on average we are assisting an average” ?? You’re in marketing and you wrote this? And maybe I am nitpicking but a range can’t have a “plus” in it. “10-15+” sounds like one of those bad weight loss ads where you can lose “up to thirty or more pounds in the first week.”

What he could have done: Pick one metric that his clients want improved and use a hard number that shows their success. “Our clients have been averaging nine more appointments per month when using our system.”

Do you have some time to talk?

What he did: he gave me an easy out, because none of us ever has some time to talk, we’re busy. And “some” is too open ended and belittles the value of my time.

What he should have done: “Do you have ten minutes to talk about the four easy improvements to your website?” Ten minutes for concrete things I could do? Yeah, I’m in for that.

The frightening thing about this message is that it is one of the better ones. Most of them seem to consist of “Hi Bruce, we help companies improve their bottom line. Do you have time for a call next Tuesday?”

So if you are sending out messages or outreach or connection requests like these, please stop. The good news though is that when you put together good outreach messages, boy do you ever stand out from the crowd.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.

Want more like this? I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

The Curse Of Second Guessing Yourself

 

This is for anyone who writes or has considered writing on LinkedIn. When I talk with people about publishing on LinkedIn, this idea comes up a lot. 

When I publish an article, a post or one of my newsletters, I want to educate and inform the people that read it on how to more effectively use LinkedIn, or at least to get them to question how they are using LinkedIn. 

Probably the biggest question I ask myself after I finish writing something is “Is this good enough?”  

Often I will look at what I have written and say to myself “this one seems pretty thin” and wonder whether this is something I really want to publish. Then I go ahead and publish it anyway and the article I questioned will get a pile of views and drive a ton of engagement. 

It took me quite a while, but eventually I figured out that I was fighting my instincts. My instincts, my gut feeling based on having written and published hundreds of posts and articles about using LinkedIn, and having reviewed the feedback each and every one of those had received, my instincts were telling me that this was a good post. But the “intellectual me” was overthinking things and thinking that this post or article was mundane. I was forgetting that my readership doesn’t live and breathe LinkedIn all day every day like I do. 

It is way too easy to overthink this stuff. When I am sending an outreach message, I ask myself what the other person wants, and how can I show them that I can help them get it? I don’t have exotic tricks and word games and closing techniques and hokum like that. There are best practices to follow in order to get your message opened and read, but it really is that simple. 

So today’s message is: It’s simpler than you think.

There’s a reason you have a gut instinct – it’s based on your experience.

Go with that instinct.

It may not be correct or the best move all the time but you will save a huge amount of time and angst in letting your instincts guide you. 

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.

Want more like this? I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/