In this article, I share the exact step-by-step process that I use to:
- Help my consultant clients establish themselves as an authority
- Develop genuine relationships with prospects
- Land meetings with high-ticket clients that value their expertise
LinkedIn is an absolute gold mine for agencies, consultants, and B2B service providers.
LinkedIn is a cesspool of spam and non-relevant pitches.
Both are true. And with a quick 5-minute poke around the platform, you can probably spot examples in both categories.
As a consultant, you have probably received some pretty terrible pitches through LinkedIn.
They are clearly automated. The pitch arrives seconds after you click the “Connect” button.
They haven’t taken the time to look at your website. They haven’t asked any questions to see what your needs might be. You’re just another name in a spreadsheet. Gross.
Still — you have to build relationships with new prospects to keep your pipeline full.
There is a right way and a wrong way to do LinkedIn outreach.
The wrong way involves a lot of automation, non-relevant pitches to unqualified prospects, and harm to your reputation.
The right way focuses on *gasp* building genuine relationships with your prospects. A strategy that not only warms up prospects by allowing them to get to know you before you pitch anything to them (and often don’t have to pitch anything to them at all, because they readily come to you), but doesn’t feel gross to execute.
Which seems difficult and time-consuming, right? That’s why so many people resort to automated cold pitches through LinkedIn messages?
Not necessarily. Yes, building relationships is more time-consuming. But taking that extra But when you take the time to do things right, you will:
- Land better clients, who view you as an authority in your field
- Have leads coming in consistently and not rely on ongoing outreach with diminishing returns
- Increase your number of inbound leads (prospects who inquire about your services without you having to pitch them)
- Develop real relationships with prospects over time, resulting in more high-quality leads in the long run.
In this article, I’ll break down the exact process that I use to help my clients (and myself) generate a consistent flow of high-quality leads, without resorting to spammy tactics.
1. Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile isn’t a resume. It’s a landing page.
You want anyone that visits your profile to immediately understand:
- How you can help them
- Who you have previously helped
- The results you are capable of delivering
Now, it’s important to understand that optimizing your LinkedIn profile doesn’t necessarily mean going all out in every section of your profile.
Some areas are more important than others. For instance — when was the last time that you looked at who had vouched for a person’s skills on their profile? It’s probably been a while.
The truth is that there are a few key areas that you should ensure that you have setup correctly on your LinkedIn profile.
Let’s break them down one-by-one.
This is self-explanatory.
Your LinkedIn default photo should be quality. It shouldn’t be blurry. You should look professional. Smile. Be inviting.
If you don’t have a solid professional headshot — invest in one. It’s worth it.
Every prospect’s first impressions will be derived from your photo.
Your LinkedIn Headline
Your LinkedIn headline is the most important piece of real estate on your profile.
It’s front and center on your profile page, but also shows up on messages, below your name in comment sections, and anywhere that you interact with people on the platform.
Your goal for your LinkedIn headline is simple — to make it crystal clear what you can help your clients to achieve.
Here’s an example:
See? This is a great headline.
Not only does it tell potential prospects who and how he can help (SaaS companies accelerate recurring revenue), but he also positions himself for a specific type of client with the “$50M” number.
Using that number will attract SaaS companies in the $5-$20 million range.
Consider what it is that you do. Write a headline that focuses on the results that you are able to deliver and not the tasks you perform that allow you to do so.
Position yourself as an expert and not as a commodity. Make it immediately clear who you help, how you help, and what kind of results they can expect from working with you.
Your Custom Cover Photo
At the top of your profile, similar to Facebook’s cover photo, is the area for a custom LinkedIn cover photo.
Use this space! It is prime real estate and will be one of the first things that people see when they navigate to your profile.
Take a look at this great example, which makes great use of the cover photo area to promote his company and provide a little social proof.
Don’t go too over the top in this space. Don’t treat it like an outright ad. Ideally, you want to strike the right balance between being promotional and aesthetically pleasing.
Ultimately, the summary on your LinkedIn profile is the best spot that you have to flesh out the details and connect the dots.
This is where you want to hone in on exactly how you solve problems for your customers and the results that solving those problems will deliver.
Here’s an example:
This is a bit salesy for me, but I chose this example because it illustrates what a summary section could potentially be for service providers.
Think of this section as copywriting for your service. Your goal should be to make it so clear what you do to potential clients, that people that will be a good fit for your service self-select after reading it.
The use of the green check emojis here is good because it draws attention toward the most important parts of his copy — the problems that he solves and the outcomes that he delivers.
Your Experience Section
The experience section is essentially a listing of positions that you have held. But, as a founder, it’s important to remember that you aren’t trying to attract recruiters here. You don’t have to list every job that you’ve ever had.
List the job titles that you’ve held that are impressive or are related to the service that you are providing. There is no need to tell everyone about the serving job that you had in college.
Ideally, you want to list at least a few different positions that you have held.
Also — and this is important — make sure that your company listing connects to a live LinkedIn page for your company. You want your logo to show up.
It should look like this:
Not like this:
If you want your prospects to take your business seriously, you should take the time to create a company page. This is particularly true if you have employees. Having a company page conveys a certain level of seriousness and professionalism. Not having one in some ways suggests that you might be some fly-by-night wannabe and works against you.
This section is critical. This is where you get to put your expertise on display. LinkedIn generally doesn’t like it when their users link out to other websites, and they discourage it wherever they can (as all social media sites do).
However, the “Featured Articles” section is the one place where you can link to high-quality thought leadership content and case studies.
Make certain that you are featuring content here that highlights your expertise and helps your potential clients to understand what they will get out of working with you. As in the example above, client testimonials and case studies also do very well here.
A well-constructed LinkedIn profile has a few main goals:
- Convey professionalism and experience in your domain
- Put the results that you are able to generate for clients front and center
- Put yourself in the best possible position to generate interest and discussions with those clients
2. Create Valuable Thought Leadership Articles
Claiming that you know your discipline inside and out isn’t enough. Your clients want proof, and they want to hear it from the horse’s mouth.
And the best way to do that? Create content that puts your expertise on display. My preference is thought leadership articles — that you can then use as the basis for other content.
Thought leadership articles, like the one you are reading right now, allow you to put your knowledge on display. By digging deeper, you can cover your area of expertise fully.
Really dive deep into the topics that you cover. Share real-world examples from your actual work. If you can, share results.
If you’re too busy to create that kind of content, don’t shy away from hiring a writer. Thought leadership content has the potential to be the foundation of your marketing efforts as a consultant, agency, or B2B service provider.
Having some great content on hand to share with prospects and repurpose and publish in other formats and on other platforms goes a long way toward developing trust with prospects.
Great thought leadership content brings prospects to you with an understanding of what you do and some of the nuances that go into the strategies that you deliver.
Compare that to what your competition is doing — sending mass automated cold outreach. They probably generate some leads. But are those leads truly bought in? Do they value them as an expert? No, they don’t.
3. Turn Those Articles into LinkedIn Posts (And Other Content)
Creating truly valuable thought leadership articles is a time-consuming task. Often, I find myself putting in 10+ hours for a single piece of content, including conducting interviews, research, writing the content, editing it, creating images, and adding all of the bells and whistles to make it pop.
If you are going to put all of that time in, don’t stop at just an article. Take that work that you have already done and repurpose it for multiple formats and platforms.
From a single article, you could create:
- LinkedIn and other social media posts
- Explainer videos
- Social media images
- Newsletter content
4. Connect With Your Ideal Clients Using Personalized Connection Requests
Your connection request gets your foot in the door. You can’t send them a message until they accept your connection. So it is important that you maximize the number of accepted requests that you receive from your target audience.
Most people send absolutely terrible, automated, non-relevant connection requests to their target prospects.
We’ve all received them. When you make the mistake of clicking “Connect” and immediately get blasted with an unpersonalized pitch.
There are so many people doing it that it has to work on some level, right? It must be a numbers game.
Well, yes and no. Yes, if you send enough automated pitches out you are bound to have some people raise their hand and express some interest. Generally, these are very low-quality prospects. They don’t have a lot of faith and trust in you as a service provider and expert. Often those that reply are completely unqualified for the offer.
Don’t be one of those guys.
Connect with your clients in a genuine way. Take the time to look at their LinkedIn profile. Take a look at their company website. Google their name and see if they’ve been mentioned in articles or featured in podcasts. Find an interesting angle to approach them with.
Then, craft a relevant and interesting connection request based on what you find.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
Personalized Connection Request Examples:
“Hey David. I heard you on the Manufacturing Expertise podcast. Loved your tips for navigating the supply chain issues during the pandemic. I know a lot of companies suffered initially, especially when it came to receiving shipments from overseas vendors. Let’s connect.”
“Hey Keith. I read your article on the importance of being authentic on social media and thought I’d shoot over a connection request. I definitely agree. Too many people think that social media is something that can be completely automated. I’m sure the pitches in your inbox can attest to that, lol.”
“Hey Donna. I was checking out your recent case study with Supply Dynamics. A 35% increase in support ticket efficiency is absolutely amazing. Is that the best result that you’ve achieved for a client, or does it get better from there?”
People can sniff out automated BS from a mile away. Do your research. Be specific. Ask a question. Be genuinely interested in them or their company. It goes a long way.
5. Share Your Best Content With Those That Accept
When they accept your connection request, don’t immediately pitch them. That makes you no different from the rest. We want to develop genuine connections and relationships with our prospects, not just view them as a potential sale.
If they respond to your connection request, continue the conversation naturally.
A few days after your connection, send them one of your thought leadership articles. Choose the one that gives them the best chance of familiarizing themselves with you or your service.
Here’s an example of what this might look like:
These articles can be hosted on your blog on your website, on LinkedIn, or on Medium. It doesn’t matter where it is published, just that it is genuinely helpful.
But remember — it only makes sense to share your content with people that it will be genuinely valuable to.
You don’t want to mass blast your articles out to every connection that you have. Not only is that likely to get your account suspended, but it makes you no better than the guys that send out automated pitches.
Be thoughtful with who you choose to share your content with. If you are only connecting with your ideal clients, this makes the process much easier.
6. Engage With Your Prospects on Their LinkedIn Posts
Think about how you feel when someone genuinely engages with you on social media, with no ulterior motive.
It feels good when someone likes your post, comments thoughtfully on something that you said, or simply agrees with you, right?
You should be doing the same for your most important prospects on LinkedIn. Especially when you already have a history of conversations happening through LinkedIn messages.
A great comment on their posts makes the conversations a two-way-street. They are learning from you. You are learning from them. It’s a mutual thing, and the relationship you are building is genuine.
7. Continue to Engage and Focus on Conversations, Not Sales
The approach that I am describing in this article is “playing the long game.”
Don’t engage with any singular prospect with taking them on as a client being the ultimate goal.
Try to be more hands-off. Focus on developing as many relationships as possible within your target audience, and the clients will follow.
The consultants that I am executing this strategy for, see dozens of warm conversations with prospects every month. Once things are ramped up, that translates into multiple sales meetings each and every week. Without feeling spammy or scummy in the process.
The clients that they land through a thought leadership and genuine personalized outreach approach end up being better clients than they would get through cold pitching because they come to them with some initial trust in their expertise.
8. Ask For A Meeting If/When It Makes Sense
Many of the leads that you produce through this strategy will be inbound leads — or prospects that just ask for a meeting with you after engaging with you a bit.
But there will still be prospects that we have built a rapport with that you would love to add to your client roster. Maybe they are an ideal fit. Maybe you just like their style and vibe with them.
For some prospects, you will still want to ask them to take a meeting.
By that point though, they should have engaged with you multiple times and have at least a basic understanding of who you are and what you do.
The idea here is that we generate meetings with warm prospects, not cold ones.
Want to Do This But Don’t Have the Time?
I get it. The strategy that I’ve outlined in this article is extremely time-consuming. You’re a busy founder. Adding something like this onto your plate, but it just isn’t realistic.
Still — you do want to be developing relationships with your ideal prospects.
That’s where I come in.
I help consultants execute the exact strategy that I’ve detailed in this article. I handle the whole process for you, including crafting quality thought leadership content that your market will love and engaging with them in a genuine, individually-personalized way on LinkedIn.
All you have to do is set up a monthly meeting with me so we can brainstorm some content topics, and take the meetings that I book directly into your calendar.
With this service, you’ll turn your LinkedIn profile into a warm lead generation machine, while building genuine relationships with your most important prospects.
Want to chat to see if we’d be a good fit? Let’s set up a time to talk.