Last week I shared some tips on how hotel sales managers could use LinkedIn as a prospecting tool and I want to thank all of you who sent me emails or reposted the post.
BTW, I did follow up with the sales manager that I referred to in the original post and he is making great progress connecting with individuals and following companies that are associated with his territory and market segment.
That said, here are some other ideas that you can incorporate into your LinkedIn prospecting strategies that can help you to generate more connections and leads.
Raise your hand if you love cold calling!
For those that say cold calling is a waste of time must not be using LinkedIn to gather intelligence on prospects, companies and organizations they are targeting. With LinkedIn there is no excuse for ‘cold’ calling.
When you view a prospect’s profile on LinkedIn, you will find so many opportunities to break the ice and quickly turn your call into a conversation and not a sales pitch.
Here’s an example. I was viewing a profile of a VP of Sales and Marketing that I wanted to contact. When I scrolled down to see what groups he was affiliated with, I noticed that he was an alumni of a university where some of my friend’s kids played football. In my email, I included a reference to those football players and asked about what sort of season the team was expecting to have this coming year.
If you are having challenges getting through to a senior decision maker, then consider upgrading your account so that you can send an InMail.
InMail is LinkedIn’s internal email system that allows you to send emails direct to the recipient without requiring an introduction.
Upgrading to a paid account
Speaking of InMail, if you upgrade from a free account to a Premium account, here are some advantages for your consideration:
InMail – As I mentioned above, you can send message without an introduction and LinkedIn suggests that you will get a 30 percent response rate.
Profile Organizer – You will have the ability to track files in a dedicate workspace and organize those files into specific folders and add details such as notes and contact information.
View more profiles – With a Premium LinkedIn account, you can only access of a minimum of 100 additional profiles from an advanced search.
Who’s viewed your profile – If it’s part of your MO to reach out to those who have viewed your profile then it may be worth the extra fee to have this capability.
If you plan to upgrade your account, here is a quick rundown on the costs. Each program’s complete inclusions can be viewed by clicking on this link.
Business – $19.95 a month (if you pay in full for 1 year) – In addition to the inclusions in the Personal plan, you get 3 InMails per month, view full profiles of anyone in your network, 300 additional profile views included in your search, and 4 premium filters included in the profile such as Seniority, Company size, Interests and Fortune 1000.
Business Plus – $39.95 a month (if you pay in full for 1 year) – In addition to the inclusions in the Business plan, you get 10 InMails per month and 500 additional profile views included in your search.
Since most of you reading this are in hotel sales, the Business plan is most likely your best and most cost effective choice when considering upgrading your account.
Who’s looking at you?
Do you reach out to those who are viewing your profile? It’s a great way to connect and begin to network with those individuals if and only if there appears to be a mutual fit.
From your profile page, scroll down a tad and on the right-hand side and you will see who has viewed your profile. Click on the link.
As you will note, these three individuals viewed my profile. Two of them have no connection with me because their profile contains a ‘Connect’ button and the third is an existing connection because it allows me to send him a direct message.
For those viewers who have ‘Connect’ next to their profile, you should conduct some research about them to see if they are someone who you would like to network with or help out in some way in the future. If not, don’t pull the trigger.
If you decide to request a connection, please do not send the canned LinkedIn ‘I’d like to add you’ invitation. Instead, say something like ‘Joe thanks for viewing my profile. Would you like to connect? Mary Smith.
Who is coming and going?
As suggested in the previous post, you should be following your client’s and your prospect’s companies or organizations.
LinkedIn will send you announcements about those companies and organizations that you are following and sometimes they can provide some insight that may help you to spot something that could prompt a call to check in and gather intelligence.
Include your LinkedIn profile in your email signature
Hopefully you have taken the time to complete your profile on LinkedIn. If you haven’t, get to it so as you grow your network, you connections and prospects will have the right impression of you and your ability to provide them with the type of professionalism and service that they expect and deserve.
At the very least, you should include a link to your LinkedIn profile in your email signature. Here are the directions for Mac Mail. If you use Outlook, click on this link for details.
- Open your LinkedIn profile.
- Go to your email and click on ‘Mail’ and then ‘Preferences’.
- In the pop-up menu choose ‘Signatures’.
- Locate the signature that you want to add your LinkedIn link to, highlight it and copy it.
- Open ‘Pages’ and select a blank document.
- Paste your email signature into the blank document.
- Locate the area that you want to include the link and type in the word ‘LinkedIn’.
- Go back to your LinkedIn profile page, highlight and copy your vanity URL.
- Go back to your Pages document, highlight the word LinkedIn, go to the top right-hand side of the document and select ‘Inspector’.
- Click on the ‘Link inspector’ icon located at the right-hand side of the window.
- Next click on ‘Hyperlink’, check the box next to ‘Enable as a hyperlink’, make sure that the ‘Link to’ is ‘Webpage’ and past your LinkedIn URL into the URL field. Go to the bottom of that window and make sure that the box called ‘Make all hyperlinks inactive’ is not checked.
- Close the window.
Here is how to include a LinkedIn image in your Mac Mail signature. If you use Outlook, click on this link for details.
- Open two Safari windows, open your LinkedIn account on both pages, move your cursor over ‘Profile’ and choose ‘Edit’ from the drop-down menu. This will save time as you go back and forth to copy images and links.
- In one window just below ‘Done Editing’ you will see your vanity URL and click on the ‘Edit’ link.
- On the page that appears in your search return you will see ‘Profile Badges’ on the lower right-hand side of the page. Click on the ‘Create a profile badge’ link.
- Find a profile badge that you would like to include in your email signature, right-click the image that you want, ‘Save Image As’ to your Desktop file and give it a name like ‘LinkedIn image’ and click ‘Save’.
- Go to your Desktop file, double click the saved LinkedIn image, and it will open in ‘Preview’.
- In Preview, go to ‘Edit’ and then ‘Select All’ or choose ‘Command ‘A’.
- Go back to ‘Edit’ and then select ‘Copy’ or choose ‘Command ‘C’ to copy the image.
- Go to Mac Mail and in the upper left-hand corner, click on ‘Mail’ and select ‘Preferences’ and click on ‘Signatures’ from the pop-up menu.
- Locate the signature that you would like to include the LinkedIn image locate and an area in your signature line where you would like to place the image and right-click ‘Paste’ or choose ‘Command ‘V’. The image will look too large but not to worry. Leave the signature pop-up menu open.
- Now go back to the second Safari window that contains your LinkedIn profile and then right-click and copy your vanity URL.
- Go back to your email signature pop-up menu, left click on the LinkedIn image that you inserted into your signature line and it will be highlighted.
- Go up to ‘Edit’ and select ‘Add Link’ or choose “Command ‘K’.
- Paste your LinkedIn vanity URL into the box and click OK and you are done.
Send yourself a test of the new signature with the link in the text or in the LinkedIn image to see if it looks like what you expected and that it sends the viewer to your LinkedIn profile.
Next, send a brief email to your clients and prospects inviting them to connect with you on LinkedIn.
In the email, provide the following steps to make sure they understand the process.
- Step #1 – Click on your LinkedIn link
- Step #2 – Click the ‘Connect’ button on your profile page
- Step #3 – When LinkedIn asks the question ‘How do you know Jane?’, direct them to check ‘Other’ and add your email address to the blank ‘Jane’s email address and click ‘Send Invitation’.
LinkedIn is just one of the areas that I address in my new educational workshop for hotel sales managers called ‘Mapping the Course‘.
Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a hotel consulting and sales training company that helps hotel owners and their sales teams to grow their business and generate more sales.