Case Study: How to Generate an “Earthquake” of Leads on LinkedIn

If Karen Nierlich’s office doesn’t fall into the ocean, she’ll be in great shape thanks to a unique new approach she’s utilizing on LinkedIn.

“I’ve been in business for a long time,” Nierlich, a San Francisco-based website developer, told me on a recent podcast interview. “I’ve done a lot of in-person networking. A lot of our business came from word of mouth and networking, meeting new people in groups. And, about two years ago, I decided that LinkedIn and all these connections could really help me. I just saw the potential to have my network online. I saw the potential to be able to take my LinkedIn network with me, if I decided I wanted to go someplace. You know … if California had its earthquake.

LinkedIn Tip #1: The Time is Now!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again until I run out of oxygen – we live in the single best time in human history to turn your passion into a profession.

Nierlich is no exception.

“I have this picture of flexibility,” she says. “My kids are going to college pretty soon, and so I have this picture of myself taking off somewhere. Maybe … or maybe not. But, that’s what I wanted. So, I spent quite a bit of time reading about LinkedIn.”

LinkedIn Tip #2: Target Your Ideal Audience! 

What she found in her studies was an instant ability to target her ideal audience using the world’s largest social media network for professionals:

LinkedIn Tip #3: The Riches are in the Niches!

Nierlich also learned that, on LinkedIn at least, the riches are often found in the niches.

“Like a lot of people, I was very resistant at first to picking a niche,” she says. “I run a web and marketing business called ‘Almost Everything.’ I really enjoy working with a variety of clients. I it exciting and new, to go from one industry to another. Then in the last few years, I’ve been working with a business coach who specializes in general contractors. However, I still did not specialize in general contractors until (I got serious about LinkedIn).”

LinkedIn Tip #4: Make Your Profile Client-Facing!

One day, Nierlich decided to give the client-facing, niche approach a shot on LinkedIn.

She reconfigured her entire profile to appeal to specific clients in a specific type of industry.

The results were immediate – and ongoing:

“I got a handful of sales leads within the first couple of weeks,” she recalls. “And within a few months I’d generated 150 or so targeted, new leads for my business.”

Today, Nierlich is happy to report that she’s “100 percent full … and then some” in terms of her current client workload, with more leads lining up for work later this year … and almost all of them have come in via LinkedIn.

It almost seems too good to be true, until you understand the dynamics of LinkedIn and one of the most basic approaches to successful selling.

LinkedIn Tip #5: Understand the Opportunity!

First, there’s LinkedIn. With nearly 400 million members in more than 200 countries, and with two new members joining the network every single second, it’s the best one-stop shop there is to find and connect with other professionals worldwide.

Because it followed Facebook’s lead in terms of gathering as much personal information about each member as possible, LinkedIn makes it easy to sort and search its platform by everything from physical location to industry type to job title to schools attended and much more.

Step 1 is realizing your ideal client base is already on LinkedIn, just waiting to be found and connected with.

LinkedIn Tip #6: Understand the Psychology of Selling!

Step 2 involves understanding how to approach, engage and ultimately sell to those prospective clients.

As Dale Carnegie noted in his bestselling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, “I know and you know people who blunder through life trying to wigwag other people into becoming interested in them. Of course, it doesn’t work. People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves – morning, noon and after dinner.”

What Nierlich embraced over on LinkedIn was making her profile more “client-facing,” following Carnegie’s lead and moving away from what so many other LinkedIn profiles look like – a virtual résumé.

To illustrate the difference, here’s the first sentence of Nierlich’s new-look LinkedIn Profile: “WHAT WE DO: We help high-end residential contractors … grow their business with marketing and modern websites.”

The rest of her summary area flows into a natural evolution of how she helps her ideal audience (residential contractors) achieve one of their goals (crafting websites that attract them more business) while solving some of their biggest pain points (lack of time and expertise when it comes to creating websites and/or online marketing services).

Nierlich finishes off her summary area with social proof, including testimonials from happy contractor customers:

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The best part was, she didn’t have to reinvent the wheel – all the content she needed was already there, just waiting to be re-formatted and shared in a way that would appeal to this target audience.

Now, does this mean Nierlich only does websites for contractors? Of course not! But in terms of identifying one specific type of customer and/or target market, it’s an ideal approach on LinkedIn.

(And, if you want to appeal to multiple audiences in different verticals, there’s an easy way to do that as well.)

“When I realized much easier it was to attract clients within a niche, suddenly it made a lot more sense to me,” Nierlich says. “That one could reduce one’s time, marketing efforts . . . and, now that I’ve started down this path, I feel like I’m being more helpful, because the advice I’m giving is so targeted to a certain profession.”

LinkedIn Tip #7: Stop Spinning Your Wheels!

She’s also eliminated one of her biggest challenges as it relates to everyday lead generation efforts.

“What I hadn’t been able to figure out was what to do on a daily basis,” she recalls. “I was spinning my wheels. I was thinking, ‘I should go do a little of this. And then a little of that.’ It was very unsatisfying because it felt so unfocused.

“So, the idea of focusing on a niche has been very significant for me. It makes me feel very confident in talking to people, and when I started publishing content on LinkedIn just for contractors, I realized I had information specific to contractors that could be very, very helpful to them. And, I had somebody contact me, just from one of my LinkedIn posts, to do work for them!”

The Rest of the Story – Listen to the Podcast!

There’s much more to share, including the daily routine Nierlich utilizes for lead generation on LinkedIn. (You can listen to the entire podcast interview online, or else via iTunes or Stitcher.)

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Bottom line: Anyone (and I mean anyone!) can replicate the success Karen Nierlich is having by following a few simple steps and rethinking your approach over on LinkedIn.

So what are you waiting for?