Are you receiving this type of invitation to join a professional network? "Never know when a simple LinkedIn connection could blossum (sic) into a business relationship."
I typically reply to these messages, asking why I should join the person's network. I ask the question these days to see how many contacts are initiated with a purpose...or a referral...or if they've even read my profile.
Yet, LinkedIn is an exceptional way to discover prospective clients and build relationships with the goal of moving off-line for a sales conversation.
It's worth the time to define your motivations. Are you trying to boost your credibility among clients? Do you need to establish authority to attract investors? What about a higher public profile to book speaking engagements?
Answer these 6 questions to clarify your reasons:
1. What do you want to achieve with all those contacts on your lists?
2. Have you identified the characteristics of your ideal client?
3. Do your contacts reflect the characteristics of your model customer?
4. What exactly do your clients want from you?
5. What have you prepared to offer them?
6. How will you deliver on your promise?
Next, determine the number of contacts you need to make and work back to see how you will meet those goals.“Make sure you’ve got the right 5,000 accounts,” says Olivier Taupin my erstwhile writing partner. Olivier owns 100+ groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million members.
“What’s important to me is that the people make sense,” continues the social media thought leader. “If you are in the energy industry, and there was somebody in the hospitality sector who wanted to connect, it won’t work for you.” He recommends that you evaluate all your invitations by first studying their profiles.
What about those people who’ve viewed your profile. Should you invite them to connect? Yes, says Olivier. If they align with your organization’s mission.
Here's your go-to tactics for building purposeful connections.
Industry. Start researching your preferred field of commerce. If you’re having challenges reaching into climate change, for example, discover who is speaking to your targeted client. It might be people selling green energy or solar panels who will give you clues—including potential contacts.
Function of the people you want to reach. Is the purchasing agent not available to you? Instead, try their colleagues for your second choice: people in marketing, production, or finance who might help get you a connection.
Geography. Decide the range of your business reach–from local to international. If it’s not possible to connect with HQ, try going through a local branch office to reach inside the company.
Now, you see the chief reason to have an overall strategy that involves your CEO and other key players in your organization. If you cannot connect with a preferred individual, perhaps your CEO can provide an introduction. Or someone else in the organization has a connection to help with the contact. This is where LinkedIn’s Navigator function serves users well to keep track of team interactions.
The Navigator tool definitely is for the serious LinkedIn user. You need to be aware that Navigator is not a silver bullet that magically closes deals for you. It's simply a better research tool.
There’s also a great opportunity on Twitter to explore connections that align with your purpose. I think Twitter is an awesome platform to leverage research in tandem with LinkedIn or to nurture an even tighter relationship through your email list.
You can find more insights on social marketing for your business here. http://0s4.com/r/JV3L8R
Do your invitations get accepted? Good. Here’s 4 ways to stay organized.
- Champions – are your door openers at the level of CEO, VP, journalist, politician or industry influencer. Nurture these relationships by retweeting their comments and blogs and generally showing yourself to be a fan. Don’t ask them for favours or introductions to their world before you’ve first shown them a lot of respect.
- Prospects – reflect the characteristics of your ideal customers in each of the niches you serve. Same idea here: Don’t ask for their business before you demonstrate your worth to them.
- VIPs – are your customers or those you would love to have as customers. Say hello to these individuals on a regular basis and send them salutations. But not too often.
Fans are people who want something from you. We are grateful for fans because they validate what you have to offer.
Here’s 9 ways to show social respect.
1. Introduce them to someone
2. Appreciate them
3. Offer your expertise for FREE
4. Make them laugh
5. Add value through social media
6. Comment on their blog
7. Feature them in an article you write
8. Buy them a book (Kindle is easiest)
9. Give them insightful feedback on their product, company, or work
“Don’t try to sell me today or you’ll get kicked out,” says Olivier Taupin. That’s old style.
Instead, demonstrate your worth by showing you’ve thought about their challenge enough to have worked out a solution beforehand. Give to get.
About the Author— Sharon MacLean
Entrepreneurship, Magazine Publishing, and Social Marketing are the threads that weave throughout my career. They reflect my professional life driven largely by purpose and relationships — most recently through WorldGate Media and Boards of Directors for TechInvest Alberta, Alberta Council of Technologies, and RoadShowz/StreetSeenz.
Yet, it was through starting up and running Edmontonians magazine for 21 years where a reputation for community engagement flourished. In some ways, I see the magazine that covered leaders of commerce and the community as a predecessor to social media!
My world changed dramatically in 2010 given the disruption of traditional media which led to the sale of the magazine…and my launch into new media.
The disruption opened doors for an investor start-up in online wellness with an international team. Experience with journalism media and community publishing incubated an understanding of content creation, distribution, and network platforms.
Every skill acquired during the foundational years has been leveraged to serve my passion for professional communications in the digital age.
Social enterprise fired up all my neurons and stretched my resilience. I now help professionals and business owners flourish using traditional and modern forms of communications marketing. Learn more.
A version of this post was first published here.