Today’s BuzzoodleCast is Lead Generation with LinkedIn. Ron McDaniel and Phil Gerbyshak discuss ways to improve lead generation and lead cultivation using tricks in LinkedIn. Most people do not take full advantage of LinkedIn as a source of leads and this episode includes tricks on getting around LinkedIn out of network issues, how to build a better network, how to use things in profiles to make a cold lead warm – and more. Audio, PDF and Full transcript available below.
Lead Generation with LinkedIn
Ron McDaniel & Phil Gerbyshak
Ron McDaniel: Hi, This is Ron McDaniel with Buzzoodle, and today I am going to be interviewing Phil Gerbyshak. Phil and I go back a long way. It’s actually a testimony to networking online. We actually both knew somebody who introduced us to each other and we met at a conference then, and we have been friends for probably seven or eight years now, and we often work on things together.
Today Phil is going to be talking to us about lead generation with LinkedIn. Where I do more with blogging and search engine optimization, Phil really is an expert on social media, branding, and leveraging those kinds of tools to generate leads.
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How are you doing today, Phil?
Phil Gerbyshak: I’m awesome, Ron. How are you today?
Ron: I’m doing wonderful, thank you. I appreciate your coming on.
Phil: Yeah, it’s great to be here, man. It’s really great to be here, thank you!
Ron: Hey, I shouldn’t be telling people about you. You should be telling us a little about yourself. How did you get into this line of work; I mean, what made you interested in this?
Phil: Well, if we rewind, I worked in information technology for a long time; and by a long time I mean back when dial up modems existed and only operated at sub-optimal speeds: 9600 blog, super slow. Took days and days to even download a picture. Got there, and then about, oh, gosh now, it’s almost ten years ago that I saw technology was changing, and it was changing from being all about the tools and all about the traffic, to being all about the people.
So, in about 2005 I got started with a blog, and in 2006 I got started with LinkedIn and Twitter. I was one of the early pioneers using that, because I saw that shift, moving again from tech to people, and so in 2008 I quit my job; or, rather, I guess a two-year notice to quit my job.
I was VP of Information Technology at a financial services company, and I had a great job; I had a great boss and an awesome team. But I realized that with the change coming, working at corporate America just wasn’t going to be a great fit for me. So I told my boss at my annual review–actually it was about this time in 2008–that, hey, my next move is out of the company. I’m not planning to move up anymore. I promise I will continue to do my best and kick butt, lead my team, do everything I can to make the next two years productive for you, but just know that when I’m not here, I’m really going to be “not here.” I’m going to be building my business.
So slowly but surely I started blogging more. I have written out four books. But before I left, I had just about everything in place. It was very planned, very methodical. I saved as much money as I could. I saved as much vacation as I could so that during those two years I could go speaking, and I could take off days for workshops, and I could have money to spend on other workshops that would help grow my business, and had nothing to do with corporate America. So, I extricated myself as of June 1st of 2010, and I’ve been doing my own business full time after moonlighting at it for about five-and-a-half to six years.
Ron: Wow—that’s a long time!
Ron: Hey, let me ask you: were you ever worried, because you give somebody a two-year notice and if a great candidate comes up to replace you, say, six months after you say that, you’ve essentially given them notice. They are allowed to terminate you and say, “Well, he already gave us his notice.”
Were you a little bit worried about that or did you just know that your boss was that cool that he wouldn’t pull that on you, or what?
Phil: Well, at first I guess I didn’t really think about it. I thought that if I kicked butt that they would keep me around, and then, truly, I did get a little bit worried. I mean, I think it’s natural to have some fear about a job. So I’m done here. I have two years left, and then in 12 months, and then in 6 months, and then, really, the whole time it was, “Huh. I’m really doing this!”
So sure, I definitely had some worry, a little bit of concern, but I knew, or I felt I knew, my boss and my boss’s boss long enough that they would support me as long as I did an awesome job at what I was doing. And really, if they had terminated me early, I had put many of the pieces in place. Maybe I wouldn’t have saved as much money, or my business wouldn’t have been as strong, but I can tell you that no matter how much planning you have, things never go exactly as you expect. My business is nothing like I expected it to be when I left corporate America in 2010.
It’s quite different, and yet it’s still in the same line of work. It just isn’t exactly the same as I expected it to be. So no matter how great your plans are, yes, certainly: a little bit of fear. I think a little bit of fear is good, because without any fear then the decision isn’t risky enough, and you’re not getting aggressive enough. So you have to have a little bit of that in your stomach, otherwise you’re just going to be lazy and sloppy.
Ron: And if you’re not getting out of your comfort zone, you’re not going to get anything different than you are currently getting. I mean, that’s really how I think of it. Very good point.
So, the point of listening, in case we have first time listeners on this, the point of this interview is to maximize the knowledge share in the shortest period of time possible.
So we have defined three very specific questions. Phil has prepared answers for these. And it’s all really about increasing lead generation through LinkedIn. So does he have a lot of knowledge about other things? Absolutely, but this is a very specific presentation, and it’s going to give you actionable things that you can do immediately today after listening to this that will, over time, increase the results that you get over LinkedIn. And then we’re going to talk about the free and the premium versions of LinkedIn, and so, things you can do in both areas, correct?
Phil: Absolutely; that’s right.
Ron: Okay. Well, the first question is: have you gotten leads from using the free version of LinkedIn? And I know about once or twice a year I get a great lead through LinkedIn and I just use the free version, typically. But I’m definitely interested in improving those results. Can you talk a little bit about how to improve those results?
Phil: Absolutely. So, when you are using the free version of LinkedIn there are a lot of things that aren’t available to you. That’s perfectly fine, but just recognize that there are some things you can’t do. And LinkedIn is always changing their algorithm. So first, instead, we are going to focus on three things that you actually can do to use LinkedIn.
So the first thing is, it’s really obvious, but something that’s really important, and that is you always have to be growing your network. You always have to be adding new connections. And that’s probably a “no-duh” to most people who have any sense at all about sales. You have to be growing the pipeline; getting people in that. But the key is, you always have to be personalized whatever you say to grow your network.
I can tell you every single week I get people that try to connect to me that don’t personalize their invitation. They don’t tell me what’s in it for them, and they certainly don’t tell me what’s in it for me. Why would I want to connect with them? Now, instead of being just arrogant and just ignoring them, or replying and saying, “Hey, you’re a moron. Why did you even ask me to connect to you?”
Instead, there is a great feature inside of LinkedIn that I use through which I’ve made some amazing connections, and that is simply instead of just simply ignoring and reporting as spam, I simply reply to the message and don’t accept yet, and then I ask a very simple question. And I ask it in a bunch of different ways, but the crux of the question is this: How can we benefit each other? What’s in it for both of us to connect?
Because if you are just trying to add numbers for numbers sake, yeah, your numbers might come in, but if you don’t have a purpose when you are connecting with folks, if you don’t even think about what the benefit is to you, and what the benefit is to the other person, and you don’t spell that out right away, even if it’s just something as simple as, “Hey, we went to the same college, and I think we might be able to talk about the good old days of college back when I went to school.”
If you don’t take the time to personalize that, it doesn’t really matter. Nobody will be a real connection. You might add them to your network, but you’re not going to connect.
Now, the other thing…Oh, go ahead, Ron.
Ron: I was going to ask, does the whole “keep it to a very small group that you know well,” or, “spam everybody and get huge numbers,” work? Obviously there’s a nice in between there. Where do you think that line is? Should I know everybody in my network or is it okay to accept things from people that look interesting; that kind of thing?
Phil: Yeah, great question. I think anyone that you think can either:
A) Benefit—so the products and services you have to offer could benefit somebody else—or B) If the other person is likely to be a benefit to you.
So a good example is here in Milwaukee I’ll connect to just about anybody who is in the city of Milwaukee because I do business across the board with companies of all shapes and sizes and industries here in Milwaukee.
I think that if you look at it that way and you think about the benefits and you recognize this is why you are connecting to them—it’s because they are in your location, because you went to college with them, or they’re in the same college, you don’t have to have gone at the same time—or whatever the benefit is, you have that then you definitely accept. But blindly accepting people, especially if you don’t take the time to see if you have anything in common is a big no-no. So definitely find that balance.
Phil: So once you have that balance, and you add those connections in a personalized way, then you need to stay top of mind. So when you are getting these, and now that you are connected to people, then you have to stay top of mind, folks. The easiest way to do that is to update your status.
Updating your status is as simple as just typing some stuff in. and the great part about it is you can actually share that fact with Twitter, so you could kill two birds with one stone. But the key is, update your status at least three times per week. Post some relevant information; post a product that you are working on; post an event that you are hosting, that you are going to; post if you are going to be in a city and see if there is anyone else who might be travelling there as well, but find way to update your status regularly; at least three times per week.
Now the last lead generation tip for using the free version of LinkedIn is that if you can answer questions in groups, not just posting questions, but answer questions that add value in the groups that you belong to–they could be alumni groups, they could be industry-specific groups, they could be hobby groups, whatever—if you answer questions and you are genuinely helpful, people will remember you. And then, later on, if you then ask that they be part of your network or introduce you to somebody, they are going to remember that you are a helpful guy or gal, and they are going to be much more apt to help you.
So those are the three easiest ways that I’ve found to get leads using the free version of LinkedIn.
Ron: Okay, great tips. I agree, and I know people are always telling me that they see me all the time on LinkedIn and a lot of that is automated from my Twitter and things like that, so I don’t even work very hard. It’s just enough that people see me more than they see a lot of other people, and they say that when I meet them in person a lot of times, so you are completely right. But does it actually generate sales?
Can you give me some examples of times that you’ve used this to actually make money, not just build up a bigger list? And I know that kind of feeds into our question, too, so let me just ask the question, too: How can you use LinkedIn to help do pre-call research so that you’re not just cold calling people. Did you think that is where this really plays into?
Phil: I think that is certainly one way that it plays in. Let me answer your question first, and then let’s talk about some pre-call research.
So, I update my status pretty frequently. As I said, I try to get to it at least three times per week. I’m certainly not perfect, but I have someone in my network that lived in Milwaukee for only a brief period of time and has since moved three times. And honestly, I believe he is in New York City right now, but I’m not 100% sure. But in his last move, he moved somewhere out east, again, I’m not quite sure where it was. But he saw my status update about social media, and I offer social media services; that’s what I do. So, he saw that and a week later he was in a meeting—he’s a vice president of banking for one of the big banks out east—and he thought immediately of me. He said, “Phil, you’re the first person that I thought of, and the only person I thought of, so I gave your name to our marketing person,” and made a connection. Then outside of LinkedIn actually sent an email and made a connection with me and his marketing person.
Very simply would’ve never happened because we don’t see each other. I haven’t seen him in two or three years, but because he saw my status update about social media, it jogged his memory and made him think that I’m the only answer for social media.
Now, that’s pretty powerful stuff. He clearly isn’t connected to the world, but he connected to enough people that I know looking through his network that he knows other social media people, but none of them have done a good job staying top of mind for him.
So that’s how I’ve used it. And that absolutely has helped them. When we talk about results, that’s still in progress. I don’t have a result. I can’t say I make X amount of dollars because of that. But I can tell you that was such a strong lead so then that person, this marketing person that connected with me, whether or not she stays with that bank, or whether she goes somewhere else, we’re going to stay connected.
Ron: You know, when you are talking lead generation, it’s nice to talk about money, but ultimately, did it bring quality leads to you? Whether you closed them or not is a whole different issue for another interview, I guess. So, a great example of a really high quality, very valuable lead that you have.
Like I said, once a year at least, I get a really big lead. I mean, I’ve had huge companies call me from LinkedIn, but I’d love it to happen every week instead of once or twice a year. I think the information you are giving us here is really helpful.
So, back to the stop cold-calling, and using warm calling on LinkedIn, do I need to be a paid member for this, or is this something that I can do still with the free account, or how are you going to help out?
Phil: Yeah, great question. So I will talk a little bit about the free version and then I will talk about how you can do this in a paid way, but honestly, the free way is the most effective way.
I talked a little bit before in the previous question about groups. Now if you look at a group of interested people, people who are interesting to you in an industry that you are interested in, or you look at an alumni group, anyone in that group you have the potential to connect with. So you can then look at their profile.
LinkedIn has stopped allowing you to just search on everybody’s profile, but the groups still allow you to connect because you still have something in common. This is one of the reasons why LinkedIn only allows you to join 50 groups. And you might say, “Well, holy cow, 50 groups is a lot of groups!”
But really, when you think about it, and you think from broad to narrow, 50 groups is not a lot of groups. But this prevents you from simply joining every single group that is related to your business, and then spend the heck out of them with your information.
Now, one of the things that I’ve done in groups is that I manage some groups. Again, this is extreme, but you can start a group. If you don’t see something about a topic that you are interested in, you can start a group. And what’s great about starting a group is that then you are the keeper of all of the context, and you can set it up to send an email out with as much information as you want about the group, when people apply, you can send another one on acceptance, and then, the most powerful thing is, once they are part of the group, then once a week or every couple of weeks you can send out a message to every member of the group, every member of the group and say something about your business.
Now, if you just sell, sell, sell, that’s not going to work. But instead, if you invite people into the group and invite them to ask questions and get them engaged, and then share some more information with them, they are going to be much better for leads. You are going to know a lot more information about them because the thing that you can do is you can find their questions; find their pain, and then, hopefully, you have the answer to that. So groups are really, really powerful stuff.
Applications are another great way to do some pre-call research. If there is someone that you have connected with, or that you want to connect with, and you see that they use an application, like box.net, like slide share, or even like the Amazon reading list, you are going to find something that is very much in common with that. So you can take a look.
For instance, on mine, my LinkedIn profile I have my reading list. And I know that there are about 30 people who follow all the books that I post on my Amazon reading list. So now, I can then see, “Oh, they have an Amazon reading list.” And I can see what books they have. And I can give you a great example.
I found an IT professional out east, and I wanted to speak at his university. I took a look at his reading list, saw we had a book in common that I hadn’t yet added to mine, and it was a perfect conversation starter that I could say, “Hey, I read this book as well. What did you think about it? I am using it for this. Have you thought about using it for that? Hey, this was an interesting part.” It’s a great way to warm someone up instead of just making a cold call. So applications are really, really good.
And then a third way for the free is “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” function. Think about after researching someone, and they tell you no. Now, a lot of times, that might end the conversation. But if you are using LinkedIn and then that person tells you “no,” you can see on the right hand side about halfway down on the profile a function most people have turned on by default called “Viewers of this profile also viewed.”
I can tell you one of my clients is using LinkedIn for lead generation last week. She saw someone who was also in there because the first person that she talked to wasn’t really the decision maker. But she saw the second person that was on the “Viewers of this profile also viewed” who was at the same company, just a different role that she had never heard of. So, what did she do? She then sent a warm connection to that person, “Hey, I know Jenny, Jenny knows you. I thought it might be nice if we connected.” So she used that as a warm up call, and was able to do that in a way that was nonintrusive, it was non-spammy, and simply by noticing who the “Viewers of this profile also viewed.”
Now, we talk about the paid version, there is one more tool that you have, and it’s somewhat like a cold call, but if you do the research, you can actually use this to make a much warmer move. And that is, in-mail. And in-mail is something that is really, really useful.
LinkedIn in-mail allows you to connect to anyone on LinkedIn. Now again, if you just send that in-mail and you just talk about how awesome you are, how awesome your business is, it’s not going to be very effective. Instead, I encourage you to do the research. Look at their profile, connect, and talk about something other than business first. Make the connection and use that as your lead. Lead with humanity; don’t lead with business because that will get you in the door much faster than if you try to sell, sell, sell.
Ron: So “Give Me Your Money” is a bad subject line.
Phil: Yeah, or “Click my Junk.” That’s another bad subject line, exactly.
Ron: Yeah, that’s one I like to use.
Phil: Super non-effective.
Ron: You know, if somebody sent me an email that said “Click my Junk” I might have to look at that email. I think at least open it.
Phil: Maybe you would. Especially if there was a question mark at the end.
Ron: Exactly, exactly. Okay, for the last question, you’ve promised to share some of the best kept secrets of LinkedIn; things people most likely have not thought of. And just looking at the short list you sent me, definitely I didn’t know about these, so I am anxious to hear about these in more detail.
Phil: Awesome. So, for the first thing is something that is really a big secret and folks think that LinkedIn is flat and that it doesn’t have a lot of communicality to it that you really can’t extend it far, but I’m here to tell you that you can add video to your profile. Now, how do you do that? Let me tell you.
One of my clients who does speaking and consulting and training, added his demo video right to his LinkedIn profile by first of all creating a Power Point presentation, or a Keynote presentation on his computer with an embedded You Tube video as the first slide. So that’s the first step.
The second step is you have to upload that to Slide Share; Slideshare.net is the web site you would go to.
Third you just have to simply add the Slide Share application to your profile, and it will then show up as a video on your profile.
Now some of the other ways that you can add video to your profile are by using box.net. Box.net is a file service, so you can upload a video right there. A third way is much less direct and likely less effective for most, and that is that one of your three links can be a link to a You Tube video about your products, service, or self.
Ron: Is there a player for the box.net, for example?
Phil: There is not. People have to download, so that’s again why they are listed in order of usefulness, I think. Some people like to offer that as a download if it’s a demo product. Some people actually will want to keep that on their mobile device. So, that’s a good question.
So the second secret is something that when you are first starting off in LinkedIn and by first starting out I mean you’ll sub 50 connections, sub100 connections, it doesn’t matter, and that is suppressing updates that you’re doing a major overhaul to your LinkedIn profile. So if you sub 100 people who know you, it doesn’t really matter. As soon as you get over 100 people, you are basically spamming their feeds with your updates to your profile.
So you are up there with your expertise, and then seven minutes later you update your picture, and then you added another job, and then you added education. Instead, if you don’t set everything up when you first start your LinkedIn profile, instead, I want to encourage you to actually suppress your profile updates. Make all the changes and then add it back. Now the reason for this, as I mentioned, is the fact that you don’t want to spam your connections. But the other reason for this is because if you are making massive changes, this may not be something you want your competition to know. This may be something you don’t want anyone to know.
People look when they see updates, and they are going to ask themselves, “What is it?” Now, if you didn’t really update anything, and they’ve seen your profile before they are going to think, “Oh, they’re just jiggering with their profile, so they can show up in my feed.” So instead, I want to encourage you, as I encourage my clients, and this works really well, just turn off the updates, make all the changes, then turn it back on and make one last change so it shows that you updated your profile.
One change is good; any more than that and people are going to ask questions. One of my clients actually didn’t turn it off, and I can tell you they had people who they were working with as they were attempting to kind of exit their job, saying, “Hey, is everything okay? I noticed you updated a bunch of things on your LinkedIn profile.” That’s a good way to send off alarm bells. You kind of exit corporate America, change jobs, or try to reposition your brand in the market.
Now the third secret about LinkedIn is that Google is a huge helper for LinkedIn. As LinkedIn changes its algorithm and no longer allows you to see deeper connections, it used to be LinkedIn was “six degrees of separation.” Everybody was six degrees away. And you can see people that were really deep within a network. And you could see a lot of information as far three levels.
But LinkedIn has changed that, so what I want you to think about is as you are doing research on people, as you find the position on LinkedIn, if LinkedIn says they are out of network, what I want you to do then is take that exact position title and their location, and I want you to plot that into Google and add the word “LinkedIn” at the end of that. Typically that will give you another view of that profile, or at least give you their name so you can see if they are on any other social media services. You can see if you can find an email address or anything at all simply by using Google.
Google is a great enhancement for that. I can tell you if it says, “Ron M.” and “Ohio” I can probably find that Ron M. because of your job title. So I want to encourage you to use Google as that extra resource; that extra research tool. So if you get stuck in LinkedIn, and you can’t find it, plug in that same parameter but add the word “LinkedIn” behind it, then Google, and you are going to find tons and tons of leads.
I can tell you one of the sales organizations that I coach; they do that all the time. When they are looking for people and they don’t find as much information as they want on LinkedIn because they say they are “out of network” or whatever, they plug that into Google and sometimes you kind of back into the network that way and it’s going to tell you a lot more information. You might even find someone you have in common so you can make that request of people.
Ron: Excellent advice. That’s very interesting. It’s kind of a hack around LinkedIn, in a way. Okay, are there any last thoughts you have about LinkedIn? I think this gives people a lot of actionable sort of things to go play with; ways to enhance their networking and their profile; and their research in LinkedIn. And certainly, people who take action are going to see results from this. Any last success stories or advice?
Phil: Well one last success story that I’ll share is that I’ve had clients that have seen massive increases in the amounts of leads that they had received simply because they’ve added another job, another college, or another something to their profile that has then expanded their network, and their sphere of influence.
Now one thing about LinkedIn that you don’t want to do is you don’t want to use it like a resume. You don’t want to list every single job that you’ve ever had in your life. But what I do want to encourage you to do is you do want to add at least a few and see if that adds to your network. You can always remove it later on, but I want to encourage you to add a job; add a college even if you only took a couple of courses there; in some instances, even adding a high school. If your high school is well known in your area, and you can find other people that listed that, add yours, because people are looking for things in common.
Believe it or not, people want to say “yes” to your invite. If you can’t give them a reason to do that, then they are going to say “no.” So find a connection. Find a company in common; a college in common; even a high school in common—something in common—and add that to your profile, because you can always disconnect it later.
Ron: Let me ask you this on this point: Have you had any experience maybe with when you volunteer with United Way or Red Cross or something really big, adding that in there? Think about all the other volunteers that have been in that. That has got to increase your network exponentially.
Phil: Absolutely. I can’t believe I forgot that. Add that, Ron. Thanks for reminding me. That is absolutely vital to connecting.
So, I have a volunteer organization that I sit on the board for that is part of my profile. I can tell you that other people that are in that organization ask me to connect because they love that organization so much they realize that anybody that is at all connected to that organization is someone that they want to know as well.
So if you volunteer for the United Way, if you volunteer for the United Arts Fund, you have an arts board, anything at all that you are part of, even if it’s small, add it to your profile. See how it works. Test it out. Trial and error is the best way to find success. I can tell you I see it all the time that I hit more leads for people who want to buy my product, who want to buy my books, who want to book me to speak, who want to work with me because of volunteer organizations that I have listed in my profile.
Ron: Excellent advice; I really appreciate your time today, Phil. I know I always give you time to promote something at the end so people can get to know you better. Not necessarily something to buy, but just, you know, like a download or something. I see a note here that there is something with nudity and I don’t know. You tell me what this naked thing is.
Phil: Yeah, absolutely. There is so much stuff on the market about what’s the deal and what’s the real truth is about social media. I’ve decided that I was going to ask other people, not just me, because although I think I am pretty smart, there are a lot of people who are smarter than me.
So I asked a bunch of people, “Will you please tell me one truth about social media for you?” And I put it together and am calling it the Naked Truth of Social Media. I think it is important that everybody knows the Naked Truth of Social Media. It’s a free ebook. I’m giving it away just for signing up for my newsletter at the nakedtruthofsocialmedia.com—ten experts sharing their insights, really unveiling their real truths about social media so that you can find yours. That’s really the goal of this, and hopefully to inspire people to recognize that the truth is out there. You just have to look for it.
Ron: Excellent. Again, go download Naked Truth of Social Media at nakedtruthofsocialmedia.com. It’s a free download, I believe, Phil?
Phil: That’s correct.
Ron: We appreciate your time, and this has been Ron McDaniel for Buzzoodle at Buzzoodle.com. You guys have a really nice day!