I’ve been using LinkedIn and LinkedIn Recruiter for a long time as a sales tool, and have always had mixed feeling about asking people I’m connected to for introductions for people they are connected to. On one hand, it’s a great way to get a warm introduction if they are willing to make one for you; on the other, you kind of put people on the spot when you ask them to do this for you, many times you won’t hear back from them one way or the other. Because of that, I’ve trained myself to do the heavy lifting of the cold outreach, with expectedly low results.
Think about it – someone you don’t know gets a cold email from you offering them your product or service. They’re not expecting your email, maybe not even interested in the service you’re offering, don’t know who you are, where you came from or how you found them, yet we expect them to respond to us? They almost never do, and when they do, it’s almost always a rejection. Yet I, like so many others, continue to do the same thing.
Because on the surface, it seems easy.
With a tool like LinkedIn, I can drill down to the exact buyer of the service I’m offering and either message them directly through LinkedIn or use any number of basically free browser plugins that will retrieve their email address for me. I take one of my “templated” emails that I’ve finally honed over the years and boom, there it is, in their inbox.
Guys, I’ve been doing this for years and the reality of it is that it just doesn’t work. Yet I keep doing it. Because I’ve tricked myself into thinking that I’m being productive — I’m hitting my target directly, but the reality is, I’m so far off it isn’t even funny. The proof is in the results.
So, like (I’d hope) any good entrepreneur would, I’m admitting my mistakes and making a commitment to change. And starting today, I’m going to do the extra work up-front of strategically tapping my network for mutually beneficial introductions, rather than try to go it alone.
The way I see it, it’s harder for someone that knows me, or that I know, especially someone I’ve give something to or done something for in the past, to say “no” to me than it is for a complete stranger to do the same. Trust me, I’m not approaching this with rose-colored glasses, I know without question a lot of the people I ask will say no, or ignore my requests, but I’m guessing it will be less then the number of rejections and ignores I get now when I cold call.
Perhaps when I ask someone that knows me, or that I know, multiple times for a favor, eventually they’ll feel guilty enough about having rejected me multiple times in the past that they’ll finally just give in. And then, they’ll make that crucial introduction on my behalf.
We all know the value of an introduction – a referral, as it were. People buy from people they know, or trust, or both, and in most cases that relationship came from a pre-existing one they already had. Not that buyers won’t buy from strangers, but that’s not the norm.
If the buyer doesn’t know you, or they don’t know your product, you are going to have a much harder time convincing them to buy from you then your competitor who they may already know or know of.
So, leverage those existing relationships for introductions. Build new relationships you can leverage for the same purpose in the future.
And remember, as always, to give something before you ask for anything. So as you’re building your network and cultivating these new relationships, make sure you offer each new connection something of value first, before you ask of anything in return.
It could be the difference between a “just okay” business and a truly great one.