LinkedInLinkedIn may be the ultimate online relationship-building platform. With such a large number of professionals and executives using it, LinkedIn gives you un-gated access to your target market. It also provides you with the tools to find, connect and then build a relationship with them.

But to use it effectively, there are several steps you must take to begin attracting more clients on LinkedIn:

— A Professional Profile – Before you begin any activities that will put you in front of key decision makers, you must ensure that you have a profile that is professional, search-optimized and – most important of all – client-focused.

— Identify Prospects – Lead generation on LinkedIn requires you to have a clear grasp of your target market, so you must begin by thinking of common titles your target market would use to describe themselves. These titles relate to their vocation, for example: CEO, Accountant, VP Sales, HR Specialist, etc.

— Send a Connection Request – Make first contact when you find a potential prospect by sending a connection request. Start by clicking on their name to go straight to their profile page. If you hit the “Connect” button via LinkedIn search, it will not give you the option to personalize your message. Instead, send a personalized connection request message that explains how you know them or why they would want to connect with you.

— Send a Thank You Message – When you see someone has accepted your connection request on LinkedIn, reach out with a personalized “thank you” message. Don’t pitch your services or self-promote in any way other than adding the URL to your website in your signature.

— Begin Building the Relationship –Reach out to your new connection in a week with what is called a “Relationship Building” message. The sole purpose of this message is to provide something of value to that person with no ulterior motive.

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