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6 Steps From LinkedIn to Face-to-Face

With all the buzz about building a social media presence, it's still all about getting in front of a prospect.

The Linked-In introduction process outlined by Kevin Nichols of the North Carolina-based Oechsli Insitute prescribes six steps to identify a potential client through LinkedIn and then score that face-to-face meeting.

"We know that if we want to grow our business, we've got to get face-to-face with our prospects. We can't keep them at a distance through the web," Nichols said.

The professional component of LinkedIn makes asking for introductions less awkward than other personal social media sites such as Facebook. And moreover, Nichols has found that as much as 20% of clients are on LinkedIn, a number that can go up or down depending on how many of an advisor's clientele are still active in the professional world.

1. Be a Giver 1. Be a Giver

This step should come first and last in the process. According to Nichols, you want to be actively making connections on LinkedIn from the outset. That way you can let clients know that if there are any of your connections or friends on LinkedIn (or in real life) who they would like to meet, that you would be happy to connect them.

"I'm a true believer that if you want this stuff to work, especially social media prospecting, then you have to be giving, and sometimes you need to give first. This could be the first step of the process, but absolutely at the end," Nichols said.

2. Quality over Quantity 2. Quality over Quantity

According to Nichols, limiting your number of connections to only those clients, friends and family who you know well will help the introduction process go smoother and be less work down the road.

"You'd rather have 50 quality connections than 500 mediocre connections any day," Nichols said.

3. Pinpoint Prospects 3. Pinpoint Prospects

The simplest way is to start with clients who are coming in for a review soon and then focus on who they are directly connected to, also-known-as the Second Degree connections.

Nichols said this is where you are looking at friends of friends, so it's important to be selective.

"I look at people who work at the same company as them. That's a very easy conversation. The other would be if you work with a particular niche, physicians or business owners for example. Them I'm looking for those words," he said.

4. Segue into the Conversation 4. Segue into the Conversation

"If I'm going to ask for an introduction, I don't want to just jump right in the water," Nichols said.

Bring up the fact that you and a client are connected on LinkedIn and ask them how they use it. For example, ask if they use it for business or how often they use it, Nichols advised.

This is where your work as a giver will come into play.

"They need to see that you're active, posting and commenting because if not it looks like you're using it as an open Rolodex," Nichols said.

5. Ask about the Prespect 5. Ask about the Prespect

Don't just ask about one person - ask about a couple people you would like to meet. Nichols recommended asking a few inquisitive questions to begin.

"If we ask for just one person, and [the client] says 'I don't know that person very well,' then that conversation dies," Nichols observed.

Say: "I've noticed a couple people who I'd like to meet- how long have you known her? Do you all work together?"

6. Ask for the Introduction 6. Ask for the Introduction

Then just ask to be introduced, but include a compelling reason for why it makes sense for them to introduce you to the client.

"Give them a compelling reason. Then just ask, 'I'd like to meet Dan. Would you be comfortable introducing me over coffee?'" Nichols said.

According to Nichols, it's important to nail down the details then such as date, time and location if possible.

"We don't want to be circling back after the fact and trying to nail down these details."

At a minimum, Nichols says, tell the client you will reconnect on Monday after the client has had a chance to get in touch with the connection.

If It Doesn't Work Out... If It Doesn't Work Out...

It's important to remember that things may not work perfectly every time. When they don't, Nichols said that advisors should just let the connection fizzle out and continue business as usual with the existing client.

"The key is that if you find that a client is not comfortable with it, don't push it with them," Nichols said. "If that's the case then circle back to follow up, but if I follow up a couple times and don't hear back then I need to let it die."

With all the buzz about building a social media presence, it's still all about getting in front of a prospect. The Linked-In introduction process outlined by Kevin Nichols of the North Carolina-based Oechsli Insitute prescribes six steps to identify a potential client through LinkedIn and then score that face-to-face meeting.

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