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How to Reach Out to Your Major or Legacy Gift Prospects Using LinkedIn

Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

503209819You know major gift fundraising is a marathon, not a sprint. But your boss wants results now. So you screen your list for wealth. Or maybe you have a predictive model developed to determine whom to contact first. Next, you send a letter to your prospect and promise to follow it up with a phone call. Then you make the call and what happens? Usually nothing.
 
So you think to yourself, “There’s got to be a better way!”
 
And I’m here to tell you that the better way is with LinkedIn. It is powerful and effective but only if used wisely. Here’s how to do just that.
 
But first, some of you might doubt that LinkedIn will really work to help connect you with prospects. If you are in this group, consider these stats:

  • As of this writing, according to their own press releases, LinkedIn has over 500 million registered members (133 million in the United States alone)
  • Executives from every single one of the Fortune 500 companies are members
  • 41% of users are millionaires
  • Forty percent of LinkedIn users check-in daily (13% use it at least once a day).

 
Need more? A survey conducted by Cogent Research titled Influencing the Mass Affluent studied people with $100,000 to $1M in investible assets (40 million people in the United States). This group included people who were still accumulating wealth, soon-to-retire, and retired. The findings were as follows:

  • Twice as many high net worth clients of financial institutions use LinkedIn as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ combined
  • 36% of the mass affluent use social media for “discovery and consideration” for financial decisions (and 63% take action based on what they learn)
  • The mass affluent invest time in LinkedIn with the goal of getting something valuable in return

 
Even better, according to a July 2014 Spectrum Group study, 41% of millionaires use LinkedIn (only 10% use Twitter).
 
What does all this mean? Your prospects are using LinkedIn. So you need to be there too. But how do you actually use it to reach them? It’s actually easier than you might think.
 
First, you have to complete your profile by being as thorough and honest as possible. It is essential that you include a photo. If you don’t, people simply won’t trust you.
 
Next you need to build your network. Everyone and anyone you know should be a connection.
 
Once you have done all that, you can take a pause because it’s time to get strategic. To do so, you have to stop thinking of LinkedIn as a computer tool and start thinking of it as good old-fashioned networking. For instance, think about what you do when you go to a party or event with the purpose of networking. If you’re smart you:

  1. Outline your goals before you enter the room
  2. Act in a professional and polite manner
  3. Reach out to others
  4. Offer people something of value (it ain’t all about you, it’s about them!) in order to get the conversation started and keep it going

 
The same strategy goes for LinkedIn. Treat the tool like a face-to-face networking event even though it’s virtual because the same rules apply.
 
With your strategy vetted, your profile set-up and your network built, now you can search for ways to connect with your prospects. Use LinkedIn’s 1st degree, 2nd degree, and “get introduced” functions to determine how many degrees separate you from your best prospects. Then ask the people you already know to introduce you. And even if you don’t have a connection with a prospect, you can send a direct InMail to anyone (as long as you have a Premium Account or your prospect is an Open Link Member— like me!).
 
But what do you say? I agree. Starting the conversation is a challenge. So here are 5 tips for sending that first InMail so you’ll get results:

  1. Personalize it to prove the message is not spam (mention your shared connection and/or your shared interest in your mission)
  2. Use words the recipient wants to hear to spark their interest (based on your research of your prospect’s past involvement with your mission)
  3. Ask a question in an effort to get a response (this is very effective because it is a call-to-action). But make sure you are providing value with your question. For instance, say, “Would you be interested in seeing a quick video shot by one of our volunteer nurses during our visit with several wounded soldiers at the hospital this past weekend?”
  4. Try asking for a specific decision to be made (such as “Can we please arrange a time to talk for just 2 or 3 minutes?”)
  5. Make it short. Just 3 to 5 sentences— maximum (people just don’t have time to read long-winded messages)

 
And here’s one more idea: Try the “lookie-lou.” It’s simple. Just click on your prospects’ profile. They’ll see that you looked and they’ll probably look at your profile next. Then you’ll see that they looked at you. That’s when you’ll want to send your InMail using the 5 tips I outlined above.
 
I don’t know the psychology behind it, but for some reason, people tend to be much more responsive to InMails sent right after a “lookie-lou.” Try it. You’ve got nothing to lose.
 
So there you have it. Now you know how to reach out to your major or legacy gift prospects on LinkedIn. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And, if you need a little cheat-sheet, you can download ours here.
 
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How fundraisers use LinkedIn

4 responses to “How to Reach Out to Your Major or Legacy Gift Prospects Using LinkedIn”

  1. Thanks, Greg
    Your blogs and articles are always interesting, informative and thought-provoking. You’re a great resource for the charitable sector. I hope charities are paying attention.

  2. Thanks, Greg
    Your blogs and articles are always interesting, informative and thought-provoking. You’re a great resource for the charitable sector. I hope charities are paying attention.

  3. […] this one’s for you! Greg Warner of Market Smart offers a heapin’ Halloween sack filled with How to reach out to your major or legacy gift prospects using LinkedIn, plus a link to a summary “Cheat Sheet”. If you’re not yet using Linkedin as a […]

  4. […] this one’s for you! Greg Warner of Market Smart offers a heapin’ Halloween sack filled with How to reach out to your major or legacy gift prospects using LinkedIn, plus a link to a summary “Cheat Sheet”. If you’re not yet using Linkedin as a […]

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