GodfatherI’m going to offer you some LinkedIn advice you can’t refuse.

If you’ve never read the bestselling book or seen the movies, The Godfather is one of the all-time great fictional characters in American pop culture. Famously played by Marlon Brando in the movie version, Don Corleone (aka The Godfather) was an Italian mob boss who built his entire empire around doing other people favors.

Don Corleone knew that when he helped people out of jams or gave them something they really needed at just the right time – food, money, whatever it was – they were going to owe him something huge in return.

And when the time was right, The Godfather would call those favors in.

Give, Then Ask

If you take the same approach on LinkedIn – giving value first, and doing favors for others – you’re going to have more sales leads, clients and revenue than you can handle.

Allow me to explain.

In today’s business environment, it’s not enough to simply ask for someone’s time and attention.

Instead, you must earn it.

The way to earn the time and attention of your ideal prospects on LinkedIn is by doing favors for them.

Depending on what you’re selling (a product, service, or maybe even yourself as a consultant or potential employee), it will look different.

It Worked On Me

Let me share an example of how someone “earned” my time and attention … and how I’ve given him tens of thousands of dollars in business as a result.

About a decade ago, I had self-published some books and novels with a Christian theme. I tried to do all the design work myself, and I had these unappealing, ugly book covers as a result.

This guy came up to me at an area church where I was doing a book signing.

“Hey, I’ve design books for a living,” he told me. “I’d be happy to help you with your book covers. It looks like you kind of do it yourself, but I’d be happy to help you. I do books for all these famous people in the industry.”

And I was like, “That’s great, but I don’t have any money for that. I’m self-publishing, I’m bootstrapping.”

“No, no, no,” he said. “I’m just going to do it for free. I believe in your mission and what you’re trying to do. I’m a Christian, too, and I’m going to help you out. Long-term, maybe something will benefit me or you’ll bring me a client or whatever.”

I’m still working with that guy 10 years later. Not only have I given him thousands of dollars of my own money for graphics, I’ve referred him tens of thousands of dollars worth of clients because he came to me first. I didn’t know him. He didn’t ask for a penny. He gave me free book covers and interior designs. That was a HUGE risk he took.

But for him, over the next 10 years, I’ve paid that back 10x or 20x. And I’m going to be loyal to that guy, to a fault, because I feel indebted and obligated, like he gave me a shot when nobody else did.

An Obligation

We are wired as humans to feel a social obligation to others to repay a favor or kind act – especially when it’s unsolicited and unexpected. And the bigger the favor someone gives us first, the bigger the debt we feel like we owe that person moving forward.

Now, obviously you want to be strategic about this. You can’t go around doing unsolicited favors for all 400 million members on LinkedIn.

But you can use LinkedIn’s incredible analytics to figure out who your ideal prospects are – be it a potential employer, partner or customer – and then do those people the types of favors I’m talking about.

Give them a free analysis of some aspect of their business. Write up a plan that shows them how to achieve one of their goals using your product or service. Make it specific to them and their business. (This is key – the more specific and personal you are, the more a person feels appreciated and important.)

Do this, and it will pay off 10x, 20x or even more in the long run.

Now, can I promise you this will work every single time with every single person?

Of course not.

But if you do the work, and hone your craft, and help others, it’s going to build momentum and connections that will result in more sales leads, clients and revenue than banging your head against the wall with cold calls, blast emails or other outdated lead generation methods.

Best of all, you can save the work you do for these prospects and repurpose it later on when approaching a new customer. Never waste your effort. You can always learn something new when you help someone else or try a certain type of approach.

So don’t ignore Don Corleone. Instead, take The Godfather’s advice. Start making your ideal prospects or customers an offer they can’t refuse – and watch what happens as a result!

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