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Want to grow your business? Start connecting with people you don’t know

You do it at parties. You do it at breakfasts. You do it on Tinder. You probably do it in the elevator. So why does the idea of connecting with a stranger on LinkedIn feel so awkward?

When it comes to LinkedIn, resistance to turning cold leads into warm ones by reaching out to strangers is a common challenge. If you can relate to this, here are a few ways to shift your perspective.

Meeting strangers is your goal

Think about this: your friends, colleagues, networking buddies and warm leads know what you do. And your product or service is not what they need, or they’ve already bought from you. It’s strangers who don’t know the value you can provide them, and they’re not going to somehow find out when a bolt of lightning strikes them and they have an uncontrollable urge to reach out to you. So it’s not only appropriate to connect with people you don’t know on LinkedIn; it’s necessary if you want to grow your business.

Meeting strangers is their goal, too

People don’t show up on LinkedIn to share pictures of their cat, get cool ideas for their kids’ Halloween costume or post a trite question on a background of purple. They’re on LinkedIn to connect for business—just like you. And if you’re feeling awkward, you can bet they’re feeling it, too. So imagine their delight and relief to have someone reach out to them first. Yes, it’s just like that first time you went to a networking event and hoped for people to come over and introduce themselves. So take the first step; they’ll be glad you did!

What’s holding you back is fear

Fear of being rejected. Fear of looking bad. Fear of failure. These three whack-a-moles are not going away, but that doesn’t mean they have to run you. Here’s an idea: tell your fears to take a day off. They can come back tomorrow. But today, you’re going to take action as though you couldn’t fail. Imagine what it will feel like when you genuinely connect with someone that could become your next client. There isn’t a better feeling.

Time is our most valuable asset

Successful businesspeople and those who never get off the ground both have one thing in common: 24 hours in a day. Can you afford to spend time driving to networking events, talking with two or three people, listening to a speaker and driving back to work? Imagine if in that same time (say, two hours) you could reach out to 20 prospects. Wouldn’t that feel more efficient, more productive?

OK, so now that I’ve encouraged you to reach out to strangers and you’ve given your fears the day off, you might be wondering: what’s the best method to connect on LinkedIn? The most effective option is to send an connection request that contains a personal message using the “permission method.” In my next column, I’ll tell you more about this and how it will completely change the way you use LinkedIn.

This article is the fourth in a series about how sales and marketing professionals can leverage LinkedIn to turn cold leads into warm prospects and more clients for their business. For Part 3, click here.

Trevor Turnbull is CEO of Vancouver-based Linked Into Leads and founder of the 30 Day Sales Machine online training and support system and the LinkedIn Accelerator Program. For more information on how you can leverage LinkedIn for your business, click here.