Last month, I discussedthe use of social proof and how it can help you close more business, get more referrals and make your accounts competitor-proof (July 2013, "The power of social proof," p.22).

This month, I want to focus on the use of LinkedIn to generate tons of warm leads that can easily be converted into new clients over time. Follow the tips in this article and I will guarantee that you acquire at least one new client within the next 120 days.

First, fix your profile. Before embarking on a campaign to open new opportunities using LinkedIn, let's get your profile up to speed so that it becomes an asset for you rather than a liability.

Directly under your name is a place to tell people what you do. Most people use this spot to share their title, such as Benefit Consultant or Vice President of Sales - but those titles are a mistake.

You want to use this space for sharing how you help clients. You might say, "Helping employers reduce employee pressure for increased wages," or "Helping employers maximize their benefits under health reform."

This is your opportunity to generate interest in what you do. Titles do not generate interest.


Build your connections

If you have not already done so, you will want to begin to connect with the people at each of your clients' offices who you interact with on a regular basis. This may be the owner, human resource professional or any person who handles the benefits for the company.

These are the people most likely to have connections that you will want to get connected to yourself.

One of the objections to connecting with clients on LinkedIn that I have heard agents use is the fact that they are connected to other agents, and those agents might decide to do some virtual window shopping.

If you have done a good job with your clients then you have nothing to worry about.

More importantly, any connection of yours that would approach your clients is unlikely to win because they will have shown themselves to have no ethics.

In addition to connecting with clients, begin to make a habit of connecting with prospects prior to any sales appointment.

Since you will now have the prospect's email address, you will be able to send an invite to connect. In your invite to connect use language similar to this: "Since we are scheduled to meet next [insert day], I thought it might make sense to connect on LinkedIn."

Once you have connected with clients you can view their connections. Identify one to three of their connections that you would like to connect with and call your client to secure permission to initiate a connection.

To secure permission use this language: "Client, I was looking at your profile on LinkedIn and noticed that you are connected to John Smith at ABC Inc., Mary Brown at Great Company and Julie Jons at Hair Today ... Would you have any objection to my sending them an invite to connect and letting them know that I am your benefit professional?"

All of your clients will give your permission. Then ask for the email addresses and send invitations to connect. From this point you will want to begin a relationship-building campaign.

Schlesinger has more than 25 years of group benefits experience. He helps agents close sales through his Social Proof Machine marketing program. Reach him at (336) 525-6357

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