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How to Sell on LinkedIn

The realistic approach to gaining new customers.

The advice, instructions, and FOMO-inspiring posts I’m constantly reading on LinkedIn marketing are designed for people who can and want to spend the bulk of their time on their own self-promotion. Their primary function is marketing for themselves, or a personality-driven business.  

If you run a business and that business requires you to work IN it, then the strategies I’m about to share are built for you.  

These are the top tricks that are working for my clients on LinkedIn right now.

#1: Relationship building through direct outreach. 

#2: Messaging in addition to or instead of emails. 

#3: Posting as yourself and not your business. 

#4: Showing your face.

LinkedIn is a Social Media Platform

You may not want to hear this, but although it has some unique properties, you still have to treat LinkedIn like a social media platform  

Unless you already have a large brand, people are unlikely to follow your company page. The same goes for Facebook/Meta, X/Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Even Neil Patel, one of my favorite marketing gurus that uses LinkedIn, gets 7X more personal followers than his business does! (See the post where I quote those numbers here.)

Users are far more likely to follow people than follow the companies they own or the products they sell.  

When you post on LinkedIn, show your face! The majority of your content should be personally delivered by you with a picture or a video.

Relationship Building through Direct Outreach 

You probably started your DTF printing business through personal connections.

Maybe you got tired of overpaying for booster tees at your kid’s school and had your first built-in customer as soon as you figured out how to print T-shirts. Or you started making them as a hobby, selling to friends and co-workers. Or you worked for another printer and stepped out on your own, inheriting some connections from your last gig. Or you met someone at a social event and ended up with a lifetime customer.  

Direct outreach is how you accomplish making those types of connection on LinkedIn.  

How to get New Customers on LinkedIn 

Approach 1: Knocking on Doors 

You can try to meet people individually by searching for your ideal contacts.  

Let’s use primary education as a target niche example. Your ideal customer could be a high school principal. Send them a connection request with a note. To get the best results, you’ll want to have a premium account.

Here’s what that looks like:

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I searched for “high school principal.” I chose the People button and typed in the geography I wanted to target. Then I picked a likely candidate and tapped Connect.

There’s an option to add a note to your invitation. You MUST choose this option to get results! 

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It’s best if the initial connection request doesn’t include a sales pitch, but you’re a busy business owner with 1800 potential connections on this search, so don’t feel too bad about getting to the point. 

(If you’d like to finesse a little bit more you could add a request for who to speak to about your offer instead.) 

Pro Tip: Do some research on the person or the school so you can demonstrate you know who you’re talking to. How are you connected? Do you know the school, heard about the latest game, or saw their great rankings on a list? Combine that with two or three different introduction messages and save them on a Word document. Copy and paste them into the Note field so you don’t have to start from scratch each time and customize based on your connection/research.  

Approach 2: Joining Networking Groups 

IRL, you might join a booster club, the PTO, or something more general to meet local school prospects. You can do the same on LinkedIn. 

Although not nearly as prevalent as Facebook Groups, you might find gold by joining a Group on LinkedIn.
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Join the Group and participate in the conversations. You can reach out with connection requests to the members, of course, but you might get even better results by warming everyone up to your presence first.

Make sure you comment. Offer an opinion and some help in your area of expertise. THEN connect.  

And best of all, you can ask the group administrator if you can post events, news, and sales information there.  

Turbo Charge Your Outreach 

If you have the time, join a few groups and monitor their conversations. Try to carve out 30 minutes per day (or week) searching and doing intentional connection requests. 

But if you’re like me, that may not last more than a week or a few Saturday mornings per month. Here are two investments you can make to save you time. 

LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator 

Sales Navigator is a sales tool that allows you to search the database to help you find just the right set of prospects, organize them into lists, and set alerts for specific criteria. 

Here’s what that looks like: 

Automated Outreach 

If you’re on LinkedIn, there’s no question you’ve gotten canned inMail and connection requests. 

You can tell they’re automated because oftentimes you’re not even the right person to target, and the messaging can be very spammy. Outreach automation on LinkedIn is a version of cold emails. 

But you get those annoying spammy emails in your inbox everyday because, if you do it right, they work. By work I mean they make the senders money.  

Just like cold emails are frowned upon by email providers, automated outreach is not strictly within LinkedIn’s guidelines. 

But again, depending on how your outreach message is crafted and how good your search criteria is on Sales Navigator, the results can be outstanding.  

Reasons to use an outreach automation software:

  • You’re using the same lists you develop in Sales Navigator so you’re talking to your ideal customer. 
  • The software will put you in your prospects universe before you message them by automatically liking posts, following their profile, etc. 
  • It will send more than one message over time. That principal you try and connect with might not be paying attention now, but next month could be a different story. 
  • You will get in front of 10 or 15 new people every day, and even more after you’ve been using it for some time. Realistically, are you going to manually introduce yourself to 300 people per month otherwise? 
  • It’s proven successful. I have clients in several different industries making profitable deals AND long-term relationships this way.

    Once you start using LinkedIn for prospecting you’ll realize how clunky the interface is for managing lots of ongoing conversations. Any LinkedIn outreach automation software I’ve reviewed is MUCH cleaner and easier to use. 

    You can find the one I use here. Sign up for the Pro version for $59/month if you’re going to try it.  

Do This! 

There’s nothing but positive experiences to explore using LinkedIn to find new customers. Start for free, jump into using Sales Navigator, or go all-in with automation – just get started today!  

Bio: Mark Stephenson is a digital marketing strategist, partner, and educator. He is the driving force behind Clients First Marketing, a boutique marketing firm dedicated to empowering small business owners through comprehensive marketing solutions, educational resources, and tailored CRM systems. With decades of experience in digital marketing, sales, and management in the customization space and beyond, Mark brings a unique, holistic perspective to the ever-evolving world of online marketing. Find him on LinkedIn.

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