In this article I will focus on LinkedIn because it is the most natural platform for business-to-business prospecting, as well as having a personality more like a business-networking club rather than a social media platform. Members of LinkedIn are there to conduct business, read about business and find new business opportunities. I have been using LinkedIn for prospecting since I joined the network in 2005. In my career with corporate America, and now as a business owner, I have used LinkedIn for as much as 80% of my prospecting and business intelligence to make the connections I need.
Think about the traditional activities we perform daily in sales and marketing:
Developing lists of prospects in our target market
Connecting with those prospects
Getting exposure of our story to our prospects and their networks
Asking for referrals and introductions
Sending an introductory letter
Networking in a group
Maintaining or nurturing relationships with existing customers
Performing competitive research
Performing research on clients or prospects to cement relationships
The list of sales “activities” could go on forever and I submit that most of them can be performed on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an environment where you can connect with most of the people you are looking for, with the added advantage that they are already there for business and statistically represent the most successful, proactive and influential segment of the business population.
Here’s a quick story from my own experience on LinkedIn that directly resulted in a new relationship, closed business and then referrals.
About a year ago I was reading through messages in a LinkedIn group for a monthly, national in- person networking event. A business person in the group posted a quick question about WordPress, which is one of my primary areas of expertise. It was a simple question, so I posted a quick answer and moved on. A few days later I received a message back through LinkedIn with a follow-up question that lead to some small talk about our businesses and communities and the start of building trust and a relationship. This connection ultimately resulted in some consulting services for their project and several more over the last year. In addition to that, I received referrals to other business connections of theirs for projects with businesses in their sphere of influence. Not only is this person and the resulting clients, people who I would have never met in the past, it has extended my client base halfway across the country.
One key element to this particular story is that I didn’t have get into someones face with my product or service. I simply used the tools available to be of service and value to someone else, which resulted in establishing credibility and expertise in an area they needed help with. These tools, in this case LinkedIn, allow you to reach out and generate inbound and warm leads because you are able to identify, expose and cultivate your target market and aren’t just acting like the proverbial squirrel running around digging holes hoping to find a few nuts…
Can you see how the LinkedIn platform correlates to everyday sales and marketing activities that we have been doing for decades (yes, I’ve been in sales a while now)? LinkedIn gives you leverage through efficiency, connectedness and access to information that we only dreamed of years ago sitting in our office with a Yellow Pages book and a phone.
In future articles I will explore specific social media tactics that correspond to many of the sales activities listed in this article.