How Linkedin Can Help Introverts Get High-Quality Sales Referrals

For introverted sales reps, the idea of asking for referrals can seem awfully daunting. Nobody wants to be that arm-twisting, high-pressure salesperson pumping their customers to cough up the names of friends and colleagues.

There’s a softer approach – which has the added benefit of actually being more effective.

By now, you’re probably already familiar with LinkedIn, the online social network for professionals that boasts over 100 million users. The critical word in that description is “network” – which, after all, is what referrals are all about. When you ask for a referral, you’re really asking buyers to open up their network to you. Assuming you’ve done a good job, most buyers are willing to help you. LinkedIn makes it easy for both of you.

How does it work? Check out this four-step process:

  1. Connect with a customer on Linkedin. If you haven’t already, seek out one of your existing customers with whom you have a strong rapport and invite him or her to connect with you on Linkedin. By the way: you should do this for all of your customers.
  2. Look through your customer’s connections. Once your customer has connected with you, you can look through all of that person’s connections. This means you’ll get to see the profiles belonging to your customer’s colleagues, friends, and people with whom they have a business relationship.
  3. Find a good fit for you. As you browse  through your customer’s connections you’ll no doubt encounter some promising leads – if not a potential buyer, perhaps someone  who can open doors for you at a company you’ve been trying to get a foothold in.  Make a very short list of the best opportunities – no more than two or three to begin with.
  4. Ask your customer for online introductions to the people you’ve selected. Simply shoot your buyer an e-mail something like this: “Alice, I noticed that you’re connected with Joe C at Awesome Industries. I’d love to have a conversation with Joe to see who might be interested in my products and services at Awesome. Would you mind introducing us?”

You’ve made it really easy for your customer to help you. All Alice has to do is forward your e-mail to Joe, or connect the two of you through LinkedIn. No fuss, no muss – and no pressure.

Michael Boyette is the executive editor of the Rapid Learning Institute’s Selling Essentials e-learning site and editor of the Top Sales Dog Blog. He’s also managed marketing/PR programs for DuPont, Tyco Electronics, and US Healthcare. Contact Michael via email at topsalesdog@rapidlearninginstitute.com.

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Comments

  1. Glori Surban says

    I’ve always found LinkedIn a little bit confusing so I don’t focus there much.

    Maybe I should look at it a bit more, especially now that I’m freelancing full time.

    Thanks Pat!

  2. That’s what I do if I want to get introduced to someone one of my Linkedin connections know. And it works.

  3. This is a great article, never thought about utilizing LinkedIn for referrals. Thanks for sharing Pat, great read!

  4. BSecka, I’ve always garnered testimonials but actually didn’t think of it to ask for referrals! Glad it helped you too.

  5. Any extra tips Catarina? That’s a great testimonial to what Michael is suggesting!

  6. Carlo St. Juste Jr., L.Ac says

    I think Linked In is very under utilized, I being guilty as well. I would like to use it more to connect with other health professionals and organizations locally. I think sometimes it’s a matter of finding a way to break the ice. Thanks for the great tips.
    Carlo St. Juste Jr., L.Ac recently posted…Acupuncture For Your Shoulder PainMy Profile

  7. Bindhurani
    Twitter:
    says

    I never thought of asking for connections like that. It is interesting to see how we can be blind to the opportunities right in front of us.
    Bindhurani recently posted…Canada Day 2012My Profile

  8. Leora
    Twitter:
    says

    Interestingly, few of my customers are on LinkedIn. I think it’s because they are extremely focused on their own organizations. But in general, this is a great idea, and one we should all use for making more connections and sales.
    Leora recently posted…FTP Basics: Backup WordPress ThemeMy Profile

  9. Bindhurani, it was almost too easy to overlook wasn’t it? I mean, if you are already connecting with customers or clients on LinkedIn, it is a quite comfortable way to ask for referrals.

  10. Leora, I know for me, more of my B2C clients than B2B clients are on LinkedIn. Which has me now thinking, where are my B2B clients online anyway? Or are they?

  11. I love LinkedIn! I started using it by accident and have been using it ever since. I have met many people I would not otherwise have met. You are one of the bloggers I found through LinkedIn. 🙂
    Geek Girl recently posted…Patriotic Wallpaper for Your iPhone or Android Smart PhoneMy Profile

  12. Pablo Picasso said, “I don’t believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents.” So Geek Girl, welcome to your history and happy to connect here.

  13. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    says

    I have been on LinkedIn for many years. I have enjoyed the ability to interconnect with people through my old network. It has offered me the opportunity to meet and converse with others of like mind, such as yourself, that I would never have been able to do before. :)))
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Homemade Granola RecipeMy Profile

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