If you noticed someone peeking through the front door of your business, would you ask “How can I help you?” You’d be silly not to make that personal connection; especially as businesspeople, we’re always looking for that next customer.

There are probably at least a half dozen people peeking through your business front door – your LinkedIn account – on a daily basis. Are you reaching out to them? Too shy? Don’t know what to say? Don’t want to give the impression that you’re spying on your visitors?

Today, I want to embolden you and arm you with the steps needed to make those valuable connections with potential customers, because I’ve learned this summer that with the right approach, you CAN get meaningful business leads and valuable connections. 

STEP 1. Start off with the front page of your LinkedIn profile. You’ll find a box that says “Your profile has been viewed <number> times in the past 14 days.” Check this page at least weekly and preferably daily. Most of the time, you will see the identities of your LinkedIn visitors. Members have the option to have their name displayed, have their title/industry displayed without their name, or remain anonymous. Many members choose not to hide their identity. With the paid membership, you can see all of the viewers of your profile, not just a select few.

I make this visit to my profile page a daily routine and it has been well worth the investment of my time.

Proof Point 1: This summer, I noticed a former client was on my page, someone I hadn’t spoken to in 10 years. I checked his recent job history, sent an email and started a conversation about what he’d been up to.  I researched his new firm, checked recent news and sent him a message saying hello and congratulating him on his accomplishments. That led to a string of emails, lunch, and now, I am in conversations with his CEO for possible PR work.  I landed a quality lead based on my relevant media relations work experience and didn’t have to make one annoying cold call! Pretty nice, huh? And SO easy.

STEP 2. If folks visiting your profile aren’t easily recognizable, check out their pages if you can and your connections to them. LinkedIn etiquette suggests that you request an introduction from a current member of your network. That works fine, but may take a while. However, I have found that new visitors to your profile don’t mind your direct outreach, as long as it’s not repeated and annoying. But DO be sure you do some homework before trying to connect. Also, remember to include the reason that you are reaching out and why they might want to connect with you. (See example below.)

Proof Point 2: A recent visitor to my LinkedIn page was the Director of Marketing from an MBA school at a major university. LinkedIn requires that you should have a business history with the person you’re messaging. In many cases, I haven’t done business with these people, but I have never been caught by a “LinkedIn cop” for violating the rule.  And none of my InMail recipients has ever told me to stop messaging them. Hey, if I don’t get a response, I don’t bother them again. In nearly every instance, I have gotten a response.  I’ve never heard of anyone being bounced from LinkedIn for the occasional InMail infraction against someone they don’t know.  (If you know of someone who has been ejected, please do share!) So, when you see the LinkedIn prompt asking how you know this person, use your current firm as your reference and check we’ve done business together. If you are in a group with the person and don’t know them, you can use that option instead.

STEP 3. How to approach that visitor scoping out your profile? Here’s the gist of an InMessage I sent to that CMO of a major university:

“Hi NAME, I couldn’t help noticing that you visited my profile this week. Is there something that I can help you with or perhaps offer a recommendation for a candidate whose name we might have in common?”

I received a reply saying that he was looking for a communications person to elevate his school’s social media presence. He complimented my PR and social media credentials and indicated that he was looking for a more junior level candidate and so, I offered to aid in his search.  I made a valuable connection and feel totally comfortable reaching out to him again, if needed, in the future.

What’s the lesson here? Do your LinkedIn homework every day and see who’s checking out your profile. Look for ways that you might help those people and do the research to ask intelligent, relevant questions. You just never know where that conversation will take you and your business.

Is this something that you have used successfully in your business? We would love to hear about your experiences or suggestions in the comments below.