Using LinkedIn Connection Requests for B2B Lead GenerationI admit it: this marketing guy (me) meets on a regular basis with a sales veteran. The guy I meet with, Rick Roberge, has 40 years of sales experience, so you may fashion him as a cold caller, a hand shaker and a guy who knows how a lot about “the pitch.”

The fact is that my sales consultant recognized years ago that sales was changing, and that your prospect was changing, too. He used what he learned in traditional sales to reach a whole new breed of buyer -- the inbound leads that are so prominent on B2B websites today.

Little did I expect him to give me a social media tip that would help me get more leads, and that those leads would enter the sales funnel lower and more qualified than a typical web lead.

I suspect this tip could do the same for you. And it’s so simple, you’ll smack yourself for not thinking of it sooner.

If you’re like me, you get LinkedIn connection requests all the time. I probably get 2-3 per day. Some people I know, and some I don’t. Sound familiar?

You may be inclined to either turn down the connection requests of people you don’t know, ignore them entirely, or accept the connection and do nothing.

Big mistake.

Next time you get a connection request from a stranger, or someone you’ve never met personally, accept the request. Then send them the following simple yet powerful message from their LinkedIn profile:

“Hi Rick, Thanks for connecting with me today. I don’t think we’ve met before. What brought you by my LinkedIn profile today?”

That’s it. Simple. And incredibly effective.

I’ve been doing this for a month, and nearly everyone that I wrote responded. What I didn’t expect is that several would start telling me what they are looking for information about or asking questions about what I do. Several have even asked how our company could help them with their websites or marketing. Setting those appointments has been incredibly easy -- with a much higher success rate than reaching out to other leads by email.

How can this benefit you?

Social media is not often seen as a viable lead generation tool by B2B companies, especially in manufacturing and technology companies. “My customers aren’t on social media,” they say. “Our prospects won’t engage us on social media,” they complain. It’s simply not true, and our data (and others’, too) proves it.

So go ahead, fix up that LinkedIn profile that hasn’t been used in a year or two. Michael Hurczyn over at 710 Studios wrote a great blog about how to grow your personal brand on LinkedIn, too.

Did you know that our friends over at the HubSpot Sales Blog are giving away 50 free LinkedIn profile makeovers this month (April)? If you're out of ideas on how to spruce up your LinkedIn profile, perhaps you should enter the contest?

Join a LinkedIn Group in your industry and participate. Write a brief article demonstrating your industry expertise on LinkedIn Pulse. You’ll get more profile views, more connection requests, and more leads for your company lower in the sales funnel.

Free Guide - 5 Proven Components of a B2B Online Lead Generation Campaign

Are you engaging LinkedIn connection requests after you connect? And would you like to connect with me on LinkedIn, too?