Ask SUCCESS: What’s the Best Way to Reach CEOs on LinkedIn?

Ask SUCCESS is your place to get questions answered on how to market more effectively. In each issue, marketing expert Bob Serling is joined by another expert to answer your questions. Have a question you’d like answered? Just email it to [email protected].


Today’s question, submitted by Nathan King, is: What is the best way to reach small-business CEOs through LinkedIn?

Bob Serling: Because he knows so much about LinkedIn and has the best material around on LinkedIn, I’d like to turn this question over to Josh Turner, marketing expert and founder of Linked University.

Josh Turner: Thanks, Bob. Great question. First, you need to be where they're at. If you're trying to reach a CEO, small-business owner, president or whatever their title is, you should be where they're hanging out on LinkedIn, not where your competitors are.

That might seem like a given, but I often see people I’m coaching in all these subject-matter expert groups. A CPA, for example, will be in accounting-related and finance groups, where all their peers and competitors are hanging out. But the small-business CEO that they're trying to meet, though, he's not in those groups. You’ve got to join groups where your prospects and clients are, not your competitors.

Bob: That's a great example. It's funny, I teach a similar concept called, "Go where they gather." With the CPA, can you give us a specific example of the type of group they would want to go to?

Josh: A lot of CPAs are working on a local or a regional level. So, say a CPA from St. Louis wants to find local business owners they can target; there are all sorts of St. Louis-focused groups. That’s a great place to start because there's going to be a lot of business owners in those groups.

The local Chamber of Commerce oftentimes will have a group that you can join. If the CPA specializes in a few different verticals, try those specifically focused groups in manufacturing and restaurants or retail and medical, for example. These groups cater to C-level professionals and business owners who are in those industries.

Now that you’ve found them, you're wondering, "How do I actually reach them?" I think the mistake that people make here is twofold.

One, they're too pitchy and try to sell too quickly. The second mistake is that they try and connect with the person right away. Both don't work usually because people don't like being pitched to when they've never heard of you and they generally aren't open to connecting with people that they don't know.

The best way to reach the small-business CEO is to use a referral. Find a second-degree connection that the two of you share and leverage that connection to meet the CEO. Mention the person's name when you reach out to them. When you do that, you really increase the chances that that person's going to open their door to you.

Bob: That’s an excellent tip, thank you.

Josh: The second part of the equation is then, how do you actually get in front of them with that message to leverage the shared connection? Typically, one of the easiest ways to do it is to message them through a shared group that you're both in.

The first thing you want to do is just message the business owner, the CEO, the president through a shared group. Don't send a connection request. Send a message through a shared group instead and just say, "Hey, Mark. I came across your profile here in the St. Louis business owner group. I saw that we're both friends with John Simon and I think we might benefit from grabbing a coffee sometime," or "Would you be open to being connected here on LinkedIn?" or whatever your angle is. When you do a little bit of that name dropping, it really increases the hit rate.

Bob: What I like about what you're recommending, Josh, is that your “angle” as you call it, is a non-angle. It's very personal, it's very simple, there's no pitch. There's no hype, not even a whiff of a sales pitch in there.

Josh: Absolutely. That's a hyper-condensed version of a step-by-step strategy that we teach in one of our webinars. The people who do that get about a 70 percent response rate to it.

Really, what it comes down to is putting in the work to execute this approach. When you do the work, you're going to get the results.

Bob Serling helps business owners and entrepreneurs generate more traffic, make more sales, and do both more often. Get his free ebook of interviews with 30 leading experts, including SUCCESS Publisher Darren Hardy at

Josh Turner is a globally recognized leading expert on leveraging LinkedIn to grow your business and has helped clients generate sales as high as $5 million. He is the founder of Linked Selling, a B2B marketing firm specializing in fully outsourced LinkedIn marketing and lead generation campaigns, as well as the founder of, an online training program for LinkedIn marketing and sales. Check out one of his upcoming webinars at


Bob Serling is the founder of Profit Alchemy. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs increase their profits with no cost and no risk. Get his free eBook to discover 42 no-cost, no-risk ways to double your profits at

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