Nearly 100% of the time I’ve been approached on LinkedIn, they do it wrong…

I frequently get approached by people on LinkedIn, who want me to hire them.  For a whole mix of things.  Mostly business services (like writing), and sometimes even as a contractor/employee.

I almost always just ignore them.

They’re so bad, they don’t even justify response.

The other day, I actually engaged with one I should’ve (and normally would’ve) ignored.

That blew up in my face.

Apparently they didn’t like my feedback, telling them that they were approaching me wrong.

I tried to exit gracefully, but then made a mental note to write about it.  Because I have your ear, and maybe you’ll take my advice — even if the random person approaching me on LinkedIn asking me to give them money doesn’t.

And note: I could insert just about any other platform name or context for LinkedIn, and all the advice you’re about to get is relevant.

The first thing you need to understand…

You probably don’t know ANYTHING about what the person you’re approaching wants, or what they’re thinking about right now.

(SIDE STORY: When I was applying for my first marketing job, one place I applied for made acoustic treatments, including acoustic treatments for high-end listening rooms for audiophiles.  These are rooms in people’s houses where they sink tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade their listening experience from 90% to 98%.  In my cover letter, I described myself as an “audiophile.”  While I meant it to mean one thing [I love listening to music and like good quality audio equipment], his understanding of it was totally different [spend tens of thousands on a listening room].  I thought I knew what he wanted, but really didn’t.  And so in my phone “interview” he spent about 30 minutes “correcting” me on my understanding of an audiophile.  And, I didn’t get the job.)

In direct marketing, we learn to “speak to the conversation in their head.”

But here’s the thing.

Even the BEST direct marketing often only resonates with maybe 5% of a cold audience.  And the total response rate is typically smaller.

That means you don’t know jack about the other 95%.

We try to win by really resonating with that 5%, in a way that is mindful we might want that other 95% to be receptive to the next message, and the next.

If you’re directly reaching out to potential clients — especially cold — these numbers feel much different.

Having a swing-and-a-miss for 19 out of 20 contacts feels very different when it’s done through personal contacts.

And the solution isn’t just “play the numbers game.”

Actually, there are two solutions…

The first solution is to go to a better-qualified list…

Most people who cold-message me on LinkedIn really don’t seem to know who the heck I am.

I probably came up in some generic keyword search, and so they blasted me and everybody else who came up in that search with the same message.

Or, they’d connected with me on LinkedIn and I’d accepted their request because I accept almost everyone, but they actually thought I accepted because I looked at their profile and I wanted to do business with them.

I’m not trying to be arrogant in saying this, but if you’re going to cold-message me, you better do some homework first.  And figure out how I would most likely be able to use your services.  The same for ANY prospect.

That requires WORK that most people aren’t willing to do.

But, when you do it — and incorporate what you learn into your intro message — it sets you apart.

Let’s look at the two sides of this.

There’s the generic writer pitch that says, basically, “Will Write For Food.”  Something like…

“I’ll write blog posts, product descriptions, emails, and [blah, blah, blah] for you.  Let me know what you need and I’ll give you a quote.”

Or there’s someone who looks me up, does their research, and finds, for example, my BTMSinsiders site, and says…

“Roy, I found your training site, and see you produce a lot of programs.  I help publishers of business and marketing programs write landing pages and email sequences that convert more visitors into buyers.  Is this something you’d be interested in?  I’d love to chat…”

(By the way, I’m NOT looking for writers right now, just giving the example.)

Doing this kind of research is time-consuming, hard, and leads to reaching out to a lot fewer leads.  But it’s a completely different conversation.

Because you’re narrowing your target market at least to people who are most likely to be having the conversation in their heads that you want to join into, and that is relevant to your offer.

When you do this, the list is always smaller.  But when you hear about things like an astronomical 50% response rate, ask a few more questions and you’ll find it’s a highly-qualified list like this.

The second solution is to have a system to find a fit…

Let’s say you want to go a little colder, for whatever reason.  Maybe you’re looking for opportunities to scale a little bit more.  Or you’re not 100% sure where you align with a market that is ready, willing, and able to hire you for your services.

In that case, you need to acknowledge that you don’t know me (your prospect) from Adam.

You need to acknowledge that you don’t know what I want, or what I’m looking for.

I know this sounds vulnerable and weak, but there is also strength to it.  In fact, it’s stronger to admit that you know you don’t know, than it is to fake knowing.

As long as you know and are confident in your value.

Maybe this example will help.

In my foray into the nonprofit market, I know my approach is a bit different than what most nonprofits do in terms of online fundraising.

I’m looking to bring my commercial online direct response experience into nonprofit fundraising as well.

That’s very different than showing up at yet another financial publisher, showing them my track record, and saying, “I can do that kind of work for you.”

So I’m best off saying, “Here’s where I think I can provide value, but I really don’t know — can we chat about how I can help you?”

That’s the short version.

Here’s an example of what a longer version might look like:

“Hi, I reached out to you because I see you’re the Development Director at XYZ nonprofit.  I’m having conversations right now with nonprofits about how you might be able to raise more online donations using some strategies from commercial direct response.  If your organization uses offline direct response (direct mail) for fundraising, I think this will be an especially fruitful conversation.  No obligation — but a quick call may introduce you to some ideas worth testing, that could immediately increase donations to your nonprofit.  Would you be interested in having a chat, just to find out if these ideas could be a fit with your overall fundraising plans?  Here’s a [link] to schedule a call.”

The differences are subtle, but crucial.  You see how there’s a lot of assumption here that I DON’T know them?  Instead, I’m saying I have some specific ideas, and I want to chat.

I’m implying that I don’t know if we’re a fit, but I’d like to see if they are.

I could get more specific with my promises.  If I have a case study to refer to, this would be a great place.  But mostly, this is about feeding them into a process to FIND A FIT, instead of forcing one.

I tend to prefer this second approach (and use variations of it), but there are ways to do it even better…

Tomorrow I expect to officially announce my coming training around The Client-Getting Blueprint.

This is an opportunity to look over my shoulder and see as I’m applying my latest thinking to building a client base in an industry that doesn’t know who the heck I am.

More on that tomorrow — with a ton of value in the essay about it, too!

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr