When we talk about your LinkedIn strategy we often talk about the concept of being a “giver.” Being someone that offers referrals and engages with clients and prospects on LinkedIn. But being a “giver” goes beyond making comments and introducing. Being a giver on LinkedIn means that you can also give your knowledge. Even if you’re a novice user of LinkedIn, you’re probably further ahead of the general population than you think. Many people have created an account, but very few even know the basics of how it’s supposed to be used.
Use what you know, or even use some articles by social media experts, to start a conversation with CPAs, Attorneys and other COIs. By doing so you will not only endear yourself to the COI but will also open them up to the world of social selling (and you will reap the benefits!). Here’s how simple it can be…
STEP 1: Make a list of the COIs you are currently connected to on LinkedIn, call every single one of them, and invite them to a “LinkedIn lunch.”
Assuming that you know all of these COIs fairly well, make small talk and ask them about their LinkedIn usage. Ask questions like…
1. How do you currently use LinkedIn?
2. How do you use it for business purposes?
3. Do you use LinkedIn for prospecting?
Next, segue into an invitation to share ideas. It doesn’t matter if the COI is an avid LinkedIn user or total novice.
Step 2: Bring a laptop to your lunch meeting and create a short agenda.
During your lunch meeting avoid putting your sales cap on! This lunch is not about how you might benefit from your COI using LinkedIn. Instead, it’s about opening up a dialogue around LinkedIn. Create a quick agenda and talk through items like…
· Gathering intelligence: connecting with clients and following their companies
· Prospecting: using the Advanced Search features
(For CPAs you might show them how to search for CFOs or Tax Directors)
· Branding: first impressions of each other’s profile (be nice, but helpful to each other)
Step 3: Become their LinkedIn Confidant
Keep the LinkedIn dialog and idea sharing alive. Send your COIs helpful articles on LinkedIn tips and offer introductions. Once you’ve earned their trust you can ask for targeted introductions as well. Bingo!
Many COIs (especially CPAs) are late to the LinkedIn party. If you can show them a new tool that will help them grow their business, you will reap the rewards ten-fold. Give it a try.
Kevin Nichols is a thought-leader with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. Follow him on twitter @KevinANichols www.Oechsil.com