Breaking the Ice: Using LinkedIn to Connect B2B Marketers

Even as a B2B marketing manager for Dell, I might be hard-pressed to find prospects for a copywriting business. Most marketing managers don’t hang out on street corners, holding up a sign that says “Wanted! Copywriter for hire.”

As a B2B copywriter, you first have to find potential prospects. Then, you’re assessing them. In B2B marketing, you’re looking for marketing managers who aren’t afraid of a public presence, who are looking for opportunities, who are open to communication, who in effect are attending a “party” where you can show up and quickly establish your value.

In the bad old days, finding B2B marketing managers that fit this model wasn’t straightforward.

But now, with the advent of online video and social media, it’s easier than ever to find good prospective clients. Good prospects stand out on the Web. They’re not afraid of being noticed. But, you need to know where to look.

In my last article, I took you through the steps of finding prospective clients on YouTube. I asked that you create a list of a dozen or so B2B marketing managers in your industry niche who are publishing marketing videos.

YouTube is a great resource for new projects, because you know that those prospects are directly engaging with the public. On YouTube, they’re opening their work up to comment, even by the competition. That makes it easier for you to connect with them about a possible freelance project.

But, finding their names and work on YouTube is just the first step. There’s a lot you can learn from reviewing videos on YouTube, but to take it to the next level, you have to establish a conversation and build a relationship. To continue my analogy from my previous articles: To be successful at a party, it’s not good enough to show up. It’s essential that you connect.

And, that’s where LinkedIn comes in.

LinkedIn is the social media portal for professionals. If you’re not a part of LinkedIn, you are missing the biggest party for marketing professionals on the Internet.

It’s interesting; there are over 6,000 marketers at Dell. But often, even I can’t find them without LinkedIn — and I work here. LinkedIn makes finding your prospects simple.

Most people think of LinkedIn as a resume site — but that function only scratches the surface.

There’s so much to LinkedIn that I can’t detail it all in a short article. But, let me illustrate a simple way you can combine YouTube searches and LinkedIn to find prospective clients for your B2B copywriting business. This is a real-life example I went through while writing this article.

First, I went to YouTube and searched for a company that I, if I were a B2B copywriter, would like to write for. I’ve researched their marketing, found some opportunities for improvement, and know their products are very profitable. The search brought back 674 videos (and this is a medium-sized company). The first video on the list, which was good but could be improved, featured a Marketing Vice-President named Jeff. I’ve never met Jeff.

But, I went to LinkedIn and searched for Jeff. A profile for Jeff came up, and I found out four key things about him:

  1. Jeff controls a $2 million marketing budget. He told me so on his profile. Sounds promising.
  2. One of my former colleagues knows Jeff. LinkedIn, like Facebook or other social media sites, tracks your connections. Unlike Facebook, which tracks friends, LinkedIn tracks current and former colleagues, business partners, vendors, and friends.
  3. Jeff is interested in business deals and job inquiries. He says so, directly on his profile. Good to know he’s not closed off.
  4. Jeff and I have three industry groups in common.

Now I have opportunities to connect with Jeff. And, LinkedIn makes that easy as well. Through LinkedIn, you can send messages directly to people. What could I say to Jeff that would build rapport?

  • I’m a B2B copywriter with a background in your industry.
  • I was struck by the video you posted on YouTube.
  • You know my friend, so-and-so.
  • You and I both participate in this industry group.
  • Any plans to attend the next group social mixer downtown?
  • I’d love to talk there about your marketing videos — I noticed a simple opportunity to give them more impact …
  • Happy to buy the first round of drinks.

This might be the simplest marketing pitch in history. But, unlike an untargeted spam campaign, this is tailored, focused, optimized for a single prospect. If you could do this 20 times, I bet you’d find five interested contacts in a day.

Is this cyberstalking?

No. Remember, Jeff published all this information about himself. His profile is public content because Jeff wants people to connect. Reaching out to Jeff is not unlike breaking the ice at a party. And, doing tailored prospecting like this is a great test of your copywriting skills. You’re proving to yourself and your prospects that you can effectively market yourself.

So, this is a strategy you can implement today if you’ve done your homework. If you’ve located marketing manager prospects from your searches on YouTube, try looking them up on LinkedIn. You’ll be surprised at what you learn about these potential clients.

And as an aside, several months ago, a beginning copywriter found me using a variation on this method. She knew my work, gave me a few ideas to enhance it, and I gave her a small project as a test of her skills.

Since then, she’s earned over $20,000 from us. That pay could be yours — but first you have to connect.

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Published: January 17, 2012

2 Responses to “Breaking the Ice: Using LinkedIn to Connect to B2B Marketers”

  1. Very clear, actionable stuff.

    Thank you again, Brian.

    Guest (Rombas)

  2. Brian, this article builds hope for the "shy" ones on LinkedIN. It is the only SM site I respect as strictly professional, but it is SOOOO difficult to network with people because I don't know how to approach them. Thanks for the tips!


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