Social selling is all about a shift in sales.

People are turned off by the traditional sales methods now, where we as buyers are more informed and the salesperson holds less of the cards as they used to.

Sales in the 1960’s was about how the salesperson had all of the information and knowledge, and could sell it to the buyer who wanted to be sold to.

Now, I am sold to many times per day through cold calls and emails coming my way without any idea of who the sender is – but I receive far less attention per day on my social media networks from people wanting to connect with me.

Let’s face it…that’s the place I am more likely going to respond to you.

I get a lot of emails, I don’t even read them if I don’t know who you are. But if you are on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram connect with me then I will at the very least read and notice your connection request or interaction.

So the question then is, what do we say to get connected.

If you jump right into the cold call style “you’re a good fit for us” speech, you’ll get no response from me.

Below I describe 3 methods I have used with great success myself to start a conversation with prospects on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

LinkedIn Conversation Starters

The key feature of LinkedIn for social selling is Pulse – if a prospect has created their own content and published it as an article on LinkedIn you are on to a winner.

You have a good conversation starter to use here, read the article and leave a comment on it. Praise or explore a particular point they made in the article, tag the writer in the comment.

Ask a question about the article or the subject matter – that part is vital. This is where you encourage a response – create an opening for a discussion and conversation.

Past this, you can use a similar idea with connecting with people, use the connection request message to ask a question.

Once you are connected, you can ask the question about the LinkedIn pulse article you have read and liked, commented on.

This way you are directly involved in a 1 to 1 direct messaging conversation and you can talk to the prospect about their work and problems, goals and so on.

Twitter Conversation Starters

Twitter offers a much wider range of ways to start conversation, people are more open to talking about their lives in a more personal sense on Twitter than LinkedIn.

I commonly find people share content on Twitter, and that’s a good way to start engaging a prospect. Reshare some content they shared or wrote and tag the prospect in the share.

You can also reply to their tweet and make a comment, similarly to how you did on their LinkedIn pulse article.

You can ask a question in the same way.

If you engage the prospect well and have a conversation, they may follow you. If they don’t follow you, you could ask them to follow you so that you can direct message them a question.

That way you have again created 1 to 1 conversation and used a question about their work and activity to lead with.

Instagram Conversation Starters

On Instagram there are still a few ways to create conversation but it can be harder than using Twitter or LinkedIn.

Aside from making a comment on a prospect’s post, the conversation you can have on Instagram has to happen by direct messaging.

To make the direct message you sent to your prospect more “warm” and response worthy, you need to have good context for starting off your message. I often look at their latest post, or if there is something about their posts that I resonate with, pictures of their favourite sports team or from days out at a place I have been.

If they share a quote image, talk about how you liked it and you found a great one by another person, you can share that with them.

With Instagram you need to be a bit more patient, it’s not always possible to immediately get in touch with a prospect using good context.

They might not have posted anything of too much interest to you recently, so you could just start to like some of their posts over time to get yourself noticed and then wait for the right time.


The actual process of messaging and engaging a prospect and what you say to them is very much down to you to decide, but use the following ideas:

·       Talk about the prospect and their interests

·       Bide your time – right now might not be the best time

·       Spend some time to look through their posts and social profiles, you will find their favoured social networks

·       Always lead with the value you can provide the prospect first – can you share something that wrote, is there a person you know they could benefit from meeting, what can you bring to help them?

Follow these ideas and the methods above and you should be able to start creating conversations with prospects. The rest is down to you after that, but if you’d like a further hand with doing that take a look at our Social Selling 101 course.


Ollie uses social selling every day to learn and develop new ways to create conversations and reach prospects. Outside of the office he's an avid Liverpool FC fan and regularly watches his local football team play or plays pool every week. You can connect with Ollie on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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