I recently responded to a LinkedIn post that asked the question, “What do you find the most beneficial from LinkedIn’s Premium features?” I responded with one word: “Search”
Let me explain. I use LinkedIn to find leads for potential clients every day. But, without the Premium subscription, I get locked out after just a few searches. That’s right, LinkedIn sends me a nice message saying I’m a “Power Searcher” and that I need to upgrade to search any more in the month.
Thing is, as a content marketing writer always on the hunt for new clients, that just doesn’t cut it. So, I pay for the Premium membership.
What is your search process?
Shortly after I left that comment, John sent me a private message.
How I use LinkedIn to find leads
This is what I told him. (Then, after we backed-and-forthed for a while, we laughed about how I had just wrote a blog post! Well, here it is. 🙂 )
I start with the company. For instance, this morning I was looking up building supply and material companies. So, I go to the company page for Pella windows. If I don’t already follow them on LinkedIn, I click the follow button and it will give me some similar companies to add to my list.
Then, I go to the people tab. But I don’t search for CEO or founder because in a large company those folks aren’t the ones that produce the content you want to write or edit. (It seems John was looking too high up on the food chain for his potential clients, so I clarified it for him.)
I search for “digital marketing manager,” “content manager,” “marketing manager,” or “digital content manager.” You have to be creative and read profiles to see who is in charge of the content. Sometimes it’s just a shot in the dark, though. But, even if you connect with the wrong person, most folks are nice enough to connect you to the right one.
Once I find the right person, I send them a connection request with the following note:
Hi Tom, I’m a freelance content marketing writer in the home remodeling and building space. Notable clients include This Old House, Atlas Roofing, and CertainTeed. I think we should connect. Yes? Cheers! Carol
The next step in the process
Once the person connects, I message and thank them, and make a personal comment or two (Hey, I lived in Florida for 20 years!) or something like that.
Or I might send this:
Thanks for connecting, Cassidy! Does your company ever work with freelancers for their blog?
Or sometimes I might use this:
Thanks for your recent connection, Ben! And for responding to my email. I’d love to learn more about your company and how I might be of service in some way. Let me know who your ideal client is or if you’re hiring. I’d be happy to keep my eyes open for you or refer you to anyone from my network. And, if you hear of anyone who’s looking for a freelancer like me, I’d appreciate your referral, too. Cheers! Carol
There’s more to this than connecting.
The reason LinkedIn is called a social media platform is that there’s supposed to be some socializing going on. It’s not all “connect with me and give me work.” Because, as we all know, that’s the equivalent of the door-to-door salesman. And if you want to use LinkedIn to find leads, you definitely don’t want to be sales-y.
So, after connecting with someone new, I make a point of socializing. Looking at their posts and leaving intelligent comments is one way. Sharing is another. Sometimes, if I think it’s appropriate, I’ll send a PM and share an article I read or something I wrote.
The point is to network, stay top of mind. Then, hopefully, when your connection needs a writer, he or she will remember you and reach out.
Taking it off LinkedIn
If after a week they don’t connect, I email. (Check out “A Surefire Way to Find an Email Address” if you need help.) I use “I reached out on LinkedIn, but…” in the subject line. So far, that’s given me the highest open rate. Then, I introduce myself and ask if they need my services. I send something like this.
I’ve tried connecting with you on LinkedIn but since we haven’t yet connected, I thought I’d email instead.
Does [your company] ever work with freelance writers? I’m a freelance content marketing writer specializing in sustainable living and gardening topics. Notable clients include Tractor Supply Company, Acreage Life, and Farmer’s Almanac. The content on your blog looks a lot like the content I write for them. Would you need help with that?
I’d be happy to send you a few clips. Or you can see samples of my work on my website or LinkedIn profile. (links below)
Let me know if there is anything that I can help you with and I can get started right away.
Of course, I personalize it some by making suggestions for their website, sharing a few blog post ideas, or whatever it is that I see on their site that stands out to me.
I use HubSpot to track my email opens so I can tell if they read it.
If they open my email but don’t respond, I follow up. After all, they may have saved it for later. They may have intended to respond but the email got buried in their inbox. Or, they may be interested but not right now. Staying top of mind is the key to sales. If it wasn’t, you’d never be seeing the same TV commercials over and over again every night of your life.
The sweet spot of 500 connections
If you’re serious about using LinkedIn to build your freelance writing business, do everything you can to reach 500 connections. Because, once you hit that sweet spot, LinkedIn’s algorithm will bump your posts, include you in searches, and more. If you want to be discerning about who you connect with, do that after you get those first 500.
I just did a deep analysis of my marketing efforts for the first half of the year to see where I’m actually getting my best ROI. LinkedIn and my website SEO are how people find me.
If you want more ideas of places to look to find potential clients, check out “Five More Places to Find Quality Content Marketing Clients.”
If you want to learn more about how to use LinkedIn to find leads or potential clients, check out Carol Tice’s upcoming bootcamp, “LinkedIn Marketing for Freelance Writers.”