I am obsessed with LinkedIn – not only as a career professional, but as a blogger and business owner too. Since my content and services are professionally focused (I’m not writing about politics!), LinkedIn is a great source of traffic and referrals for me.
But I’m on there for the right reasons – to learn, grow, and share my experiences (bonus, if I make a sale in the process!).
I love the content, networking, meeting new people, and professionally growing (the career search options are just extra!). However, as much as I love LinkedIn and have explained how I’ve been able to use it to gain leads (without pitching), that should not be the entire focus of using LinkedIn as a business owner.
After so many messages to my inbox and some non-transparent phone calls that left me confused as to how a networking conversation moved to a cold pitch, I decided to write this article to make sure the military community I work with avoids losing a sale online .
The cold pitch strategy on LinkedIn does nothing to build my trust, your brand’s reputation, or make a connection with me that can actually help you sell in the future.
I may be open to many opportunities, but it’s important to understand my needs before pitching to me.
LinkedIn connections are going be interested in various things and open to exploring some options more than others. The more upfront you are, the easier it is to find the people ACTUALLY interested in what you do (hello, big time saver!).
If you want to build a true network – one that helps connect you to future positions and business opportunities, or hires you themselves, don’t be a LinkedIn salesperson. Nobody likes to feel like they’re being pitched to. There is a right way to do it!
Instead, offer something of value in your introduction. It can be as simple as “let me know if you ever need anything” or “if there is a connection I can introduce you to, I’m happy to help” or “I think we could chat about our experience doing [badass military stuff / living at that installation / working in this industry] since we both were [deployed there / were stationed here / found a job in that city, etc.].”
You get the idea.
Instead of pitching, focus on building a relationship. Those doors open so much more – an opportunity to talk about careers, military experience, discuss a commonality as a military spouse, discuss being business owners, share mutual connections, etc. In that conversation, you can mention what you do for a living, the product you sell, the service you provide, and more.
Once a relationship is built, it’s easier to go back and ask for a sale in the future. However, with no relationship built, a cold pitch makes me feel…yuck. That only hurts your personal brand, which is vital to making a sale.
We all want to be successful entrepreneurs, have our dream career, and be active online, but it is important to do it in a way that benefits both sides.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to make LinkedIn work for you, get access to my 4-day email course on building your LinkedIn community.
Jenny Hale is a marketing and social media consultant, coach, and teacher for military spouse and veteran business owners. Nicknamed “The Military Social Media Guru,” she uses her background working with military non-profits, corporate companies, the Army, and as an entrepreneur to help others struggling to meet their business dreams. With the goal of bridging the gap between the military community’s marketing efforts to civilians and vice versa, Jenny works to make an entrepreneur’s vision come to life. You can follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.