A Roadmap to Attract Foreign Direct Investment Using LinkedIn

By Melonie Dodaro

The competition for economic development organizations and investment promotion agencies aiming to attract foreign direct investment is stiff.

In a world where large corporations are incentivised through lower corporate tax rates, highly educated workforces, Government subventions or lower costs of living, it may feel like an uphill battle to win out against the global competition.

However, social media (specifically LinkedIn) provides a unique opportunity to not just connect, but to pitch and land investors. The digital age is as much about culture and real-life experience and this is where you can document and story-tell that to engaged audiences.

Forward-thinking government agencies need a forward-thinking FDI strategy.

When I talk to the people responsible for economic development and investment promotions and ask if they’ve made LinkedIn a part of their FDI attraction strategy the answer is usually no.

That’s the wrong answer. It’s important to make the world’s leading business network a part of your FDI strategy. I speak from experience.

Employees and leaders of forward-thinking economic development organizations and investment promotion agencies attend workshops I host and call on me for training specifically focused on connecting with decision-makers to attract foreign direct investment using LinkedIn.

I can’t possibly compress all of the many essential strategies and tactics I teach in a full workshop into this article, but I do intend to explain why LinkedIn is the best social network to reach decision makers to attract foreign direct investment and offer a useful step-by-step process for doing so.

Making Connections

I’ll admit it’s unlikely you’ll go from strangers to partners based solely on the connections you make on LinkedIn, but it’s unlikely you’ll find a more accessible way to open doors to building relationships and forging new partnerships.

LinkedIn, simply stated, is the epicenter of where business professionals interact online. The numbers speak loud and clear:

– For B2B, LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than any social media. (Source: Hubspot)
– More than 80% of all B2B leads generated from social media come from LinkedIn. (Source: LinkedIn)
– The network’s realized astonishing growth since 2011. In the time span, membership has nearly quadrupled to exceed over half a billion members (and growing daily).

Ninety-seven per cent of businesses believe that their video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service. (There’s no reason that this can’t work with Government agencies as well, especially with LinkedIn native video.)

Professionals the world over rely on LinkedIn for networking with peers, industry news, expert advice, training, introductions, and more. So the question is, how might an economic development/investment promotion professional use this enormous resource to find foreign direct investment prospects?

Steps to Attract Foreign Direct Investment

Find Leads: Use advanced search

LinkedIn offers all members—paid or not—a powerful search feature to find almost anyone. Using LinkedIn Advanced Search for prospecting you can find decision makers worldwide. Even with a free account, the advanced search feature provides you with a robust set of search filters you can apply. To get started, try these search tactics:

– Choose the “All Filters” option to familiarize yourself with your options.

– Search “People” by job title and filter by location, connections, and other relevant options.

You’re offered a more robust set of LinkedIn Advanced Search features when you subscribe to the Sales Navigator service. Your filter options become more significant, the number of searches you can save expands significantly, and you gain the ability to contact prospects via the LinkedIn InMail service.

Wondering what type of LinkedIn membership is best for your FDI attraction strategy? Read: LinkedIn Membership Levels: Free vs. Premium Business vs. Sales Navigator.

Capture Prospects

On LinkedIn (or any social media for that matter), you can make someone feel anonymous or important. I believe it’s obvious which one is the better approach for forging the relationships that lead to making meaningful connections, and possibly, recruiting investors.

I encourage you not to send generic messages based on templates. Don’t kid yourself with the notion that pre-written communications save you time. They sabotage the potential to cultivate relationships. A red stamp reading “Spammer” gets impressed on your forehead.

It’s particularly critical to personalize the first message you ever send—the connection request. You get only get 300 characters. Make them count so that your prospect clicks “Accept” rather than “Ignore.”

Make people feel important, and ensure all of your communications are relevant to them.

Educate and Nurture

Establish rapport by creating a dialogue with your new connection by following-up and thanking them for accepting your connection request with what I call a welcome message. Keep in mind the goal of this message is to establish rapport, engage in a dialogue and request nothing else at this time.

You’ll want to continue to nurture your prospects and build relationships by tuning-into the trigger events that are easily found on LinkedIn.

Trigger events that could potentially signal opportunities leading to conversations about possible FDI opportunities include:

• Job changes of your connections
• Posts made by your connections
• News and articles published by your connections
• Updates about people and companies you are following
• Connections and companies mentioned in the news

Look for opportunities to engage with prospects identified by notifications from LinkedIn.

Communicate Directly

Send additional messages to capitalize on the momentum and build relationships with potential investors. It is also important to get to know the person you’re communicating with and provide value by offering useful content… content that is useful to them.

The content of your communications will depend on your prospect’s industry, but always steer clear of approaching them with anything that could be perceived as a sales pitch.

Wondering what to send them? Consider the following: what are they interested in? what problems/challenges do they face? what is happening in their market/industry or in the economy right now that you can respond to?

Get to the bottom of these questions and respond with helpful content.

Convert Opportunities

The goal of each of the previous steps is to work toward having meaningful dialogues online where you have established enough rapport that your connection would be interested in having a first-step telephone conversation with you.

If you have established rapport, built some trust and provided value to your prospect, many of them will be willing to have an offline telephone conversation with you.

It is offline that you get to know your prospect; understand their challenges and have the opportunity to bring up your region and the FDI opportunities and benefits available to them.

Land Investors

The first five points involve a new way to move you to your end goal which is having a series of conversations that will ultimately attract foreign direct investment to your region.

LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to connect communities to companies, by building relationships with the decision makers of those companies.

Build a Solid Personal Brand on LinkedIn

Before you begin a direct outreach using LinkedIn, you must first make sure your profile is worthy of a decision maker clicking “Accept” to your connection request.

It’s unlikely a foreign investor is going to play ball without some initial due diligence. Of course, they’ll want to learn more about your region—and ultimately YOU, the person they will be dealing with.

Ask yourself: is your profile currently informative, compelling and unquestionably professional? Or… could it possibly plant seeds of doubt in the investors mind?

A professional and compelling LinkedIn profile is vital because it:

• Enhances your professional reputation
• Builds your credibility and authority
• Establishes trust much faster
• Facilitates relationships with decision makers
• Stands out and leaves a lasting impression

In order for a potential investor to be willing to connect with you, your LinkedIn profile must:

Establish your personal brand and professional presence. You risk rejection from decision makers if you don’t have a compelling and professional presence on LinkedIn. What you include within your LinkedIn profile must make you stand out.

Describe what you do and for whom. Is your profile clear and investor-focused? Your messaging matters. Make sure you’re speaking the language that a potential foreign investor wants to hear. Speak their language.

Build credibility to attract decision makers. The ultimate goal of your LinkedIn profile (and personal brand) is to foster the trust needed to inspire prospects to accept a connection request from you as the first step. Showcase your credibility and professionalism and allow your LinkedIn profile to position you as an expert in economic development and investment promotions.

Master FDI Lead Generation

It is unrealistic to think that you can tell those that are involved in economic development and investment promotions to start to use LinkedIn to attract FDI without proper training.

The right LinkedIn training will help EDOs, IPAs, and IDAs become far more effective, competent, and confident in using LinkedIn as part of their FDI attraction strategies. Without proper LinkedIn training for FDI, most will struggle.

Top Dog Social Media works with your staff to develop and integrate an FDI LinkedIn campaign that incorporates methods to influence and reach investors via the world’s largest professional platform.

Melonie Dodaro is founder of Top Dog Social Media that helps brands and businesses, use social media marketing and social selling to boost visibility, attract new customers and increase revenue. Dodaro is also the author of ‘The LinkedIn Code’ and the recently-released ‘LinkedIn Unlocked’. To learn more visit www.TopDogSocialMedia.com

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