If you've had the great (mis)fortune to follow any marketer on LinkedIn, you've heard that "success" looks like 10,000 followers. Hundreds of likes on every post. Lots of profile views.
The truth? You don't need to do any of this to book meetings on LinkedIn.
What you do need is credibility with your buyers.
Attention vs. Credibility
- Attention is the short-term reason people will pay attention to you. It's generated through spectacle, personality, and controversy.
- Credibility is the long-term reason people will pay attention to you. It's hard-won through consistency, generosity, and trust-building.
Of course there's overlap. But the reason you buy a course from your favorite influencer or check out their company is because they have built credibility. Not because they have a lot of attention.
Confusing the two is the classic goose chase: more eyeballs means more profile visits or website visits. Which of course means more sales, right? Right?!
The sad truth is every influencer I know hates when their posts go viral. It's all attention, no credibility. Those viral posts rarely translate into sales. Transparently, I've had several posts get hundreds of thousands of impressions and I have zilch to show for it.
Instead of capturing attention, earn credibility. Credibility is earned by answering four questions that lurk in the back of your buyer's head:
- Can I trust you? (Integrity)
- Are you a good person? (Intent)
- Can you actually solve my problem? (Capabilities)
- Are you as good as you say you are? (Results)
Integrity, intent, capabilities, results. As a seller you're probably really good at #3 and #4. You handle objections on cold calls. You nail the case studies on demos. You have proof points, ROI, data.
But the magic sauce on LinkedIn comes back to #1 and #2. Can I trust you? Are you showing up with good intentions?
People who advocate for personal branding are right that it can answer these questions. The problem? It's at odds with hitting quota. Building a personal brand takes time. You're a full time seller, not a full time creator.
If you follow the playbook – post every day, engage some, connect with your audience – all of our experiments indicate you won't see a flicker of results until you do it for the next 6 months. That's just way too long to wait around. There's quota to hit!
The 5 Step Framework
Most sellers default to cold outreach on LinkedIn to hit quota. Think about all the pitchslaps you receive. Crappy InMails. Bait-and-switch connection requests. All of those tactics may allow you to pitch a service, but they destroy trust and credibility. Buyers log in to LinkedIn to learn and engage, not to be sold.
So how do you build credibility with buyers quickly, instead of posting daily for 6 months to build up a personal brand?
Step 1: Start Great Conversations – in Comments
Instead of spending 30 minutes writing (and rewriting and rewriting) a post, engage in the comments. Write a great comment. An insightful comment. A curious comment. A funny comment. A comment that tags in a trusted peer or friend. The goal? Get the person to respond and start a great conversation!
Step 2: Use Search to Find New Conversations
Instead of hunting down leads to pitch, use LinkedIn's native search functionality to find new conversations. Use keywords and boolean searches to find new posts from prospects or peers in your industry. When you find a great post? Leave a comment!
Step 3: Build Trust through Association with Influencers
Influencers do get a lot of attention. You should leverage it. Who are the people your prospects pay attention to? Find the influencers that matter to your buyers. When you show up in the comments of their favorite thought leader or industry expert, those same people will learn to trust you through your contributions.
Pro Tip: Don't only comment on the original post. Find interesting comments from your ICP buyers and reply to those comments!
Step 4: Earn the Connection Request
There's a lot of hubbub about personalized vs. blank connection requests. But there's even a better one: the one you earn. When someone sends you the connection request from a great conversation in the comments, you know you've built credibility.
Step 5: Don't Pitch!
We call this Vampire Sales. Whether you're dropping a hot comment or sending a DM to a new connection, don't pitch. Lead with great conversations. Take a genuine interest in the person. You'll have the opportunity to prove your capabilities and results down the line. For now, build trust and show good intentions.
Quick Results for Sellers
We once worked with a seller who booked his first meeting in 15 minutes of commenting. The prospect had a brilliant conversation in the comments, sent him a connection request with an ask - "Tell me more about what you do, I'm interested." Talk about earning the connection request! The meeting was booked immediately.
That's the world record: 15 minutes. I don't think I can even match that, so I usually recommend watching for results within the first couple of weeks. Those results should be more profile visits, connection requests, conversations, and booked meetings.
So should you build a personal brand? Up to you. But it's not a prerequisite.
LinkedIn is the world's largest 24/7 networking event. Your buyers are ready to engage if you start a great conversation.
Want a deeper dive? Check out Episode 107. How to Book a Meeting with Anyone in the Comments.