I still remember sitting in my seat, heat flushing into my cheeks as everyone in the room laughed.

Even the professor made fun of me.

A few weeks later, however, everyone wanted to talk to me about what I was doing.

It was 1994, and I was taking notes for a college Psychology class on my Apple laptop.

In 2018, nobody would even notice a student taking notes on an electronic device.

But back in the 1990's, this was the reaction I got:

I was odd, I was early, and I was effective - right before the test, everyone wanted me to print off and share my typewritten notes with them!

Technology + Innovation: Embrace or Ignore?

My point is simple - when something better comes along, especially as it relates to technology, you can either embrace it and take advantage, or sit back and keep doing what you've always done.

When it came to taking classroom notes, I quickly realized I could type and format my notes far faster on a laptop than scribbling furiously into a notebook.

Marketing + Lead Generation in Today's Marketplace

I see the same thing happening in today's marketplace with lead generation and selling.

Far too many people are still stuck in (and frustrated by) the traditional methods - cold calls, trade shows, coffee meetings and the like.

And while those activities can eventually get you what you need (meeting with potential customers and building relationships that turn into transactions), they are time-consuming and ineffective compared to what you could be doing online.

Here's an example: Every single day, I have dozens of real-time, 1-on-1, personal conversations with my ideal prospects on LinkedIn.

It's authentic, it's value driven and I don't even have to get out of my pajamas to do it.

Digital Marketing Done Right

Most important, it works ... if you understand how to translate your "real world" and "offline" interactions with potential prospects into the digital space.

Here's just one example of how to connect to and engage with the people you meet on LinkedIn in a way that actually works.

For some reason, far too many people who are great in "offline" or "face to face" relationship building and selling situations treat interactions in the digital space differently, spamming people with sales offers or requests for time and attention right off the bat, trying to marry someone on the first date.

I'm not sure why this happens. Perhaps it's not being in the same room together, or not seeing the person on the other end of your LinkedIn invite or message as a real person?

Either way, here's what I know: With 500 million members in 200 countries, and with 2 new members joining every second, there's no shortage of LinkedIn lead generation opportunities.

However, knowing how to connect to and engage with those human beings is key.

How To Engage Prospects Online

What works best (especially on LinkedIn!) is replicating as closely as possible how you meet, talk to and engage with people in real life.

It all has to do with breaking the ice, starting a friendly, low-pressure conversation and getting to know, like and trust one another before the subject of selling ever comes up.

Even more important, just like in real life, you must earn the time and attention of a prospect you meet on LinkedIn.

Do you want to immediately jump on a 60 minute webinar or spend 30 minutes "exploring mutual opportunities" on the phone with someone who just invited you to connect on LinkedIn?

Of course not.

So don't expect the prospects you connect to will either!

Instead, you earn someone's time and attention on LinkedIn by first demonstrating your value and expertise. You do this with free tips, personalized advice or content that helps the other person solve a pressing issue or meeting a professional goal he or she has.

The more you can give someone free tips, advice or insights that result in a quick win, the faster he or she will "warm up" to your approach and want to learn more about what you do and the services you offer.

From Laughter to Envy

I still remember sitting in that classroom in 1994, getting laughed at because I was doing something that seemed odd and unusual at the time.

And I also remember winning over my classmates once they saw how good my typewritten notes were.

I feel like we're going through a similar era with lead generation and sales, and I'm glad I'm not waiting for everyone else to catch up to using LinkedIn and other digital platforms in the way I've been describing.

Hint: You shouldn't, either!