LinkedIn has become the premier platform for modern business networking, with over 319 million professional users as of 2022. With so many potential partners, prospects, and industry connections on one network, LinkedIn messaging can become a vital sales and partnership channel for any small or medium-sized business owner.
However, simply sending messages into the LinkedIn abyss won‘t grow your business. You need a strategic approach tailored specifically to entrepreneurs.
As a small business owner and entrepreneurship consultant myself, I‘ve used LinkedIn messaging for years to find new customers, promote my business, and collaborate with other companies.
In this comprehensive 2023 guide, I‘ll share the exact step-by-step process I use to effectively reach out and connect with potential business partners and customers on LinkedIn as an entrepreneur.
Step #1: Set Up An Optimized LinkedIn Presence
Over 93% of recruiters check out a candidate‘s LinkedIn profile before considering them. The same holds true for potential business connections evaluating you and your company.
Before initiating any messaging outreach, you need a complete, professional LinkedIn presence that builds credibility.
Here are my top LinkedIn profile tips for entrepreneurs:
Your profile image is one of the first things people notice when evaluating you on LinkedIn.
- Use a high-quality, friendly headshot that matches your company‘s branding
- Make sure the photo is current and approachable
- Consider using a logo background related to your business niche
Your header image across the top of your profile offers valuable visual real estate to highlight your business.
- Select an eye-catching image representing your company‘s products, values, or personality
- Include any awards, certifications, or achievements up there
- Drive visitors to your website by linking the image to your homepage
Your headline sits right below your name and is prime textual real estate to impress visitors and tell them exactly what you do.
- Concisely explain your role, specialty area, and what makes your business stand out
- For example: "Founder of XYZ Corp | Helping Restaurants Increase Revenue Through Targeted Online Marketing"
- Use relevant keywords and power phrases that will catch attention
The about section offers the most space to showcase your background, capabilities, passion areas, and business mission.
- Share your entrepreneurial origin story and what motivates you as a founder
- Explain why you started your company and how you help customers specifically
- 73% of buyers choose the company with the clearer purpose and value proposition
The media section offers visual proof through logos, charts, photos, and videos that your business is legitimate.
- Display client logos, testimonials, product images, infographics, and team photos
- 72% of customers say positive visual assets increase their trust
Entrepreneurs should always showcase multiple contact options to make it easy for prospects to reach out.
- List phone number, email, website links, social media handles, and even your mailing address
Step #2: Identify Who to Message
With over 319 million LinkedIn members, who should you actually message? Attempting random outreach to anyone rarely delivers results.
As an entrepreneur, I always start messaging in these three areas for the highest ROI:
Friends of Connections
According to social proof principles, we deeply value referrals and recommendations from people we already know and trust.
The easiest way to identify these high-potential targets is selecting "Friends of Connections" under relationship filters when searching on LinkedIn.
Competitors of Competitors
One of my favorite business development tricks for quickly expanding a company is connecting with disenchanted competitors of competitors in your space.
Search for profiles mentioning your direct competitors in their work experience and reach out to ones that recently left those companies. High chance they will be open exploring alternatives like working with you!
Of course, focus on identifying and messaging key decision makers at your ideal customer accounts that fit your buyer persona.
Boolean search tricks can uncover the right targets based on company, title, keywords, geography and more. Just be sure to deeply research before reaching out.
Step #3: Craft an Effective Outreach Message
With an optimized company presence and high-potential messaging targets identified, it‘s time to craft your actual outreach messages.
The average response rate to cold outreach is a dismal 2%. To rise above the noise, I incorporate these elements in every initial message:
BAD: Hi there!
Generic greetings scream spam. Address contacts directly by their first name to start creating a relationship.
GOOD: Hi [First Name]!
Introduce Your Why
Skip the boring company description. Inspire interest by explaining why you started your business and how you change lives.
BAD: I help companies with their marketing.
**GOOD: After my family restaurant went under in 2008, I dedicated myself to helping other restaurants drive revenue and thrive through targeted online marketing. That journey led me to eventually launch XYZ Corp specifically to provide affordable marketing for small eateries.
Don‘t immediately ask for something. Establish trust by first offering something helpful and valuable tailored to them.
**BAD: Let‘s jump on a call to discuss your marketing!
**GOOD: I noticed on your profile you recently took over marketing responsibilities at ABC Restaurant. I‘m happy to offer a free 45-minute restaurant marketing masterclass to provide some proven strategies to maximize your impact in that role.
Close by driving action in a non-aggressive way. Give them the opportunity to learn more and continue the dialogue.
**BAD: Looking forward to working with you!
*GOOD: If you‘re open to learning a few new marketing approaches specifically for restaurants, please feel free to schedule a consultation through my calendar link or simply reply to this message. Happy to help in any way!
Step #4: Follow Up Without Being Annoying
So you crafted a killer message and sent it off. Don‘t just wait and hope they respond!
Implement organized and strategic follow up to give your messages the best chance of converting to meaningful business connections.
I follow this timeline for all my LinkedIn messaging outreach:
Day 1: Initial connection request and value-driven message sent
Day 4: Send personalized follow up message if no response
Day 7: Connect on additional social channel like Twitter and start engaging with their content
Day 12: Send a personalized video message recap of initial outreach
Day 20: One last outreach attempt with new incentive to reconnect
The key is adding value and building trust with each communication rather than copy-pasting the same message repeatedly.
If by the fourth or fifth outreach attempt there is still radio silence, redirect focus to more promising contacts unwilling to ignore you!
LinkedIn Messaging – An Essential Strategy for Ambitious Entrepreneurs
Despite often feeling like you are shouting into the social media void, a strategic and concerted effort to leverage LinkedIn messaging as an entrepreneur can have game-changing business impacts over time.
With an optimized LinkedIn presence, targeted high-potential outreach lists, value-focused messaging, and consistent follow up, you can break through the noise and meet incredible mentors, partners, affiliates, and customers that support your entrepreneurial dreams and business growth.
The steps and recommendations outlined here represent the exact strategies I‘ve used as a business owner and entrepreneurship consultant to generate hundreds of thousands in revenue from LinkedIn alone.
Now put this guide to work for your own entrepreneurial success in 2023! Wishing you all the best as you take the next step in your amazing business building journey.