As you know, (and if you don’t, you should) social selling is not as simple as some would have you believe. It is not a quick fix, so get that out of your head NOW. It’s important that you start at the start and learn as you go. I always believe that you should learn on the job so I decided to give my thoughts on how I use LinkedIn, as that's what I know.
I have been on LinkedIn for a very long time. In fact, I was one of their first members in Ireland, but I only really started to use it in earnest when the membership of this social network for business started to hit critical mass. After all, LinkedIn has pretty much replaced the business card. I will stop using it if it gets to become a pain in the ass. By that I mean getting numerous automated "bot" connection requests. Then it will join the ranks of so many other speed networking gimmicks. But that’s for another post…
Looking for a connection for the sake of it or using a software "cheat" is old news my friend, and if your sales team are doing it, then you’re burning those leads, and once they are burnt it’s a long journey to get them back.
So, to start, you know that you don’t have enough connections with potential clients. You also know that all of these potential clients are on LinkedIn. In my case its marketing managers and sales managers. I decided to listen to some people who do it really well. Take my friend Sara for instance… I'm amazed at how open people are in discussing ideas and at their willingness to share, plus it is free, so it makes business sense to be a part of it.
However, you shouldn’t be a LinkedIn snob. When someone reaches out to you for a connection, and it’s a genuine request (not an automated bot sending the same message out to thousands of LinkedIn members), then accept it.
Start to reach out, even if it’s just five requests a day. Search for people you want to connect to, people you feel you can have a conversation with. For me, that means sales/marketing managers in my area.
The importance of the 300
When you send an invitation, you can also send a 300-character message. SEND THE MESSAGE. It’s your first connection with a potential client or a great connection that could intro you to some great people, which in turn brings new leads because you could argue that 'People' is the fifth P in the marketing mix, and networking via the likes of LinkedIn is the best way to connect with them.
Do some research on them, check out any of their posts that may be interesting, and see who you have in common: What sports do they like? Where did they go to school? If you were going to do a cold call you would (I hope) have some idea of who they are and more importantly how you could solve a problem they may have, so get a feeling for who they are as a person and make sure you take the time to get it right. Quantity is great but great salespeople build quality into that quantity. It’s people who do business with people and bull will get you nowhere.
There are many templates you can use to form your message, but make those templates your own. Be yourself.
To build up your own "brand", start putting some posts together, push other people’s posts to show your interest and that you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, or comment on posts that you have some insight on, and BE ENGAGED. Reply to people who reply to you, and even if that connection may not be in your target market, I bet they know someone who is. I believe they call it NETWORKING…
Don’t be afraid to post on your profile, not just on forums. It’s your opinions, your insights, and with practice you will get your "voice". Just start – that’s the important thing. While you are working for a company that you have to sell or market for, it’s you people are buying from.
What's your brand and why would a potential client link to you? I bet if you spend an hour looking today, you will find five "Influencers" within your market who have a bigger following than you. Reach out to them, read what they are saying, and comment. Believe me that they will read your comments, and if you have interesting, well-written content that may be of interest to them, SEND IT!
Just to be clear on what an influencer is and how to find them: Look for people who are in your business sector or you just find interesting and if their posts are getting 200-300 comments, then you are on the right track. But be careful to check what the comments are and that you are not being suckered in by one of those dreaded bots.
Start the conversation
Take the time to start a conversation. Now, I'm not saying that you jump in with a 3,000-word diatribe about how wonderful you are and how you will "rock their world". Take it slow and ask a few questions, send them some content you feel they will be interested in, and remember that people like to be listened to before they will listen to you. Sales 101…
Also, have something of interest to say. There is nothing worse than having a new connection send you a massive mail or blog straight off the bat that has nothing to do with them. And stay away from politics. Everyone has an opinion, BUT DON’T BE TEMPTED to give yours on divisive subjects such as politics or religion.
There you go – it’s that easy... All you need to do is book a couple of hours every day to work on your profile and start to use the platform. LinkedIn is the biggest networking event out there. If you don’t see that or don’t have the time to do it, then send me a mail and we can have a chat.
Get Focused are the biggest Inbound agency in Ireland, we are the only Platinum partner with HubSpot in Ireland and one of only six in IRE and the UK. We put Hubspot into the IDA and that’s going pretty well for all concerned…
My name is Ken Lanigan and I'm here to help you create leads and sell. Just send me a message on LinkedIn and let’s get the ball rolling, or share your thoughts in the comment field below.