April 1, 2014 I had 1390 connections on LinkedIn. As of May 12, 2014 my network has grown to 1795 connections on LinkedIn. That’s 30% change from April to present. This was all strategic and it was planned. My goal was to grow my network and connect with those who I could bring value to, and those that shared common passions. Those 405 connections include New York Times Best Sellers, expert sales trainers, social media gurus, and sales professionals across several industries. Here’s what I learned.
When you start growing your network begin with the value you plan on bringing to your connections. I only connect with professionals that I can bring value to their network or they can bring value to my network. I start with this because I know that power is the ability to leverage your network and resources to achieve greater levels of mutual success. This is why you must focus on the value you bring to your connections and how you can help them achieve a new level of success.
Secondly, use your passions, common interests, and organic network (such as high school, college, job, social groups, professional groups…etc.) to begin building your network. Here’s an example. I belong to a large fraternity that is international in membership. I am also a sales professional. My fraternity’s LinkedIn Group has thousands of members. I reached out to the Brothers of my fraternity and focused on those that were sales professionals. Why? We have two known commonalities. We are both members of the fraternity and we are also sales professionals. The same applied to alumni from the high school, and colleges I went to. Reach out to people and state the common interests, and passions you each share. Your network will grow.
Third, customize invites on LinkedIn work! Generic LinkedIn invites do not work! In fact, never ever send a person a generic invite. It’s rude to the person that you’re sending it to because if you are not willing to customize your invitation to connect, how are you able to state the value you bring to them professionally? Don’t take your connection for granted, take a second to draft out a short message speaking to them directly and explain to them how you can bring value to their network and how you would be honored to have them in your network.
Lastly, look at your Twitter followers. Doesn’t it make sense that those Twitter followers connect with you on LinkedIn? The relationships that exist on Twitter could be very mutually beneficial for you and the Twitter Follower/LinkedIn Connection. The same applies to Google+, Facebook, and other social media platforms. This is what surrounding/embracing a person socially is all about. It also helps you amplify your message and their message as you share, comment, and like their posts on multiple social platforms. Tie the knot around your connections by being connecting to them on multiple social platforms and show how you are helping them amplify their message. I have a simple rule on this. If you are following me on Twitter and we share a common interest or passion, we connect on LinkedIn. If you are in my Google+ Circle, and we share a common interest or passion, we connect on LinkedIn. It goes the other way as well. If we connect on LinkedIn, I look for you on Google+, and Twitter so we can surround each other socially.
There’s much more to discuss on this subject and I am willing to help you grow your network to achieve mutual success. Reach out to me and let’s get started helping you unlock the potential in your network to bring value to others by leveraging your network and resources to achieve greater levels of mutual success.
CJ Webster is the author of insidesalesmagic, a blog written to help sales professionals become knowledgeable about social selling and sales 2.0 strategies. He doesn’t provide smoke and mirrors, hocus pocus, or any presto chango posts. This is real writing from a sales prospective on the issues, challenges, and success we have as sales professionals. It is honest, raw, and uncut. Sales is a noble profession and one of the few professions where the playing field is equal. Insidesalesmagic will be right there giving you the secrets and tricks of the trade that will elevate your sales game.
“Aren’t you sharp as a tack. Are you some type of lawyer or something/ or somebody important or something?/
Nah I ain’t passed the bar but I know a little bit/ enough so you won’t illegally search my shhhhh!”
Artist: Jay Z Song: 99 Problems
On April 2, 2014 Koka Sexton, Sr. Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, posted an article titled, “How I Met Your Prospect on LinkedIn.” This post grabbed the attention of several sales professionals. Imagine if your competitor met your prospect on LinkedIn, developed a relationship, and closed them right underneath your nose? How would you feel if your competitor started picking off your biggest customers one by one using social selling techniques? You’re asking, how could this happen? Why did this happen? Who broke the sales laws? Let me stop you right there. No laws, ordinances, guidelines, or rules were broken when that customer decided to do business with your competition. The competition worked smarter. They knew that you were out cold calling, doing drop offs, having telephonic phone blitz, and offering them incentives like baseball game tickets…doing sales 1.0 strategies. The competition 10x’d their game, and proved to the customer that they are a resource using social selling tactics that worked. These social selling tactics allowed them to get pass the gatekeeper and develop a relationship with the decision maker. Don’t take my words for it. Pick up Josiane Chriqui Feigon’s book which is the 2014 AA-ISP Sales Book of the Year titled, Smart Sales Manager, and turn to page 11, chapter 1, as she quotes The DemandGen report, “Breaking out of the Funnel,” that “ 48 percent of customers followed industry conversations on the topic.” She drops another gem quoting, “37 percent posted questions on social networking sites looking for suggestions and feedback…41 percent researched papers and postings from thought leaders.”
Think connecting with your customers and prospects is inappropriate? Think again. If you are not connecting with customers, you can bet your commission check that a competitor is connecting with them today. (see who’s connecting on LinkedIn by clicking here) Don’t be afraid to include social media probes in your standard discovery process. Asking your customer if they are on LinkedIn or any other social media platform can be the first step in developing a lifelong customer relationship. Just ask the question, “Are you on LinkedIn or Facebook?”
Recently during a customer meeting, I witness a savvy sales professional asked the question, “Are you on LinkedIn or Facebook?” She followed up the response letting the customer know that many people in the industry rely on her as a resource. She informed the customer that she provides helpful insights spanning across multiple business needs that companies face in their day to day operations. Sounds like an big bold statement? Think again. What insights can a sales professional have beyond the current solution they are pitching? Ryan Maher explains these insights very well in his post, “Forget Cold Calls: 10 Ways to Make Hot Contacts.” In his Solve a Problem section of the post he states, “tips on leadership, hiring, motivation, productivity improvement, cost control, technology, and any other topics that are relevant to the recipient’s job function.” Sales professionals insights are not restricted to the solutions their company provides. These insights can include knowledge of vacant office spaces if the company is planning to move, best restaurants for client meetings, and anything that could impact a business from revenue generation strategies to the most mundane yet necessary exercises that every business performs. The action item here is take your knowledge and share it with your customers beyond the solution you are pitching. This will prove to them that you 1) have their best interest in mind 2) you care about their business 3) you are a connector to other resources and 4) you are valuable and worthy of their time.
Include your core industry knowledge that you have and how you can Provide Actionable Communication with Knowledge (*check out the PAC(w)K post). You can post relevant industry articles, infographics, whitepapers, and your product marketing collateral. I like to do a 3+1 method of PAC(w)K. This means for every three articles I share or post, I like to season in our own marketing collateral. This shows the customers that you are not solely pushing your product 24/7 and you are sharing relevant information that is worthy of their attention. This will make you invaluable to you customer over time. You will be the ultimate resource and person of knowledge they seek out for assistance. Sounds like an abundance of selling opportunities on the horizon, right? You betcha!
So how are you separating yourself from the pack? Are you THAT person customers see as a resource, industry knowledge expert, and thought leader if you are not employing social selling in your sales process? If you are a no show on social media and using outdated sales 1.0 tired baseball tickets tactics, do you think your customers see you as the “go-to person” to address their current and future business challenges? Do you want to meet your competitors customers, build a relationship with them, and acquire them as new business? I know I do. You can start this process by asking the simple question to you customers, “Are you on LinkedIn or Facebook?”NOTE: what if you customer is not on any social media platform? Craig Jamieson’s post, “What If Your Prospects Are Not Using Social Media?” gives essential steps on how to deal with these few customers.
Need help creating more social media probes in your discovery process or want to learn more about social selling to generate leads, get to the decision maker, and close more deals? Contact us at insidesalesmagic.com. We can help you get started.
We turned up in the studio late night/
That’s why the songs that you hear are comin’ real tight Song: Who Do You Love
Artist: YG and Drake
LinkedIn has the world’s largest professional network with over 277 million users and increasing users every day. So I wanted to test things out and see what type of professionals are on LinkedIn. I did this because a common objection and miss conception by some sales professionals is that “my customer is not on LinkedIn.” I have also heard, “my customers are very private and they are not that tech savvy to be on LinkedIn.” Another one I have heard is, “LinkedIn is for people looking for jobs. I don’t think anyone is on there that is a decision maker.”
Okay, so to help my fellow sales professionals step into Sales 2.0 I did some research on LinkedIn statistics. I also ran some fun outrageous searches to demonstrate that 1) for the most part, EVERYONE is on LinkedIn 2) LinkedIn is a tool that you can connect with people in every vocation known and 3) jump on the connection bandwagon before you get left in the cold because more sales professionals are using social selling (LinkedIn) to build relationships, generate leads, and turn cold calls into warm calls. So why aren’t you connecting?
Using statistical stats from Craig Smith of Digital Marketing Ramblings (DMR) along with my fun outrageous searches I believe after you read this you will jump to action and start connecting to build your network. Trust me, you will reap the benefits of taking time to grow your network.
DMR states that LinkedIn has 84 Million U.S. users. I ran a search for Stunt Doubles and found over 100+ Stunt Doubles. Hmmm, if I were looking for stunt doubles I now know they are on LinkedIn. There are 2.1 million groups in LinkedIn. You think there is a group for Stunt Doubles? I bet they do have one and all you have to do is join it. Your next step is to actively participate in the discussion to show you are a resource. This is one way to grow your network.
My curiosity started growing after the first search so I ran a query for NASA Astronauts. I admit that I don’t know anyone that is an astronaut but I did a search and yep, I found them on LinkedIn. I’m thinking about connecting with them to get some dry ice cream. 40% of users check LinkedIn daily. This means that sales professionals have a huge opportunity to deliver meaningful content that will get seen by decision makers. This beats knocking on doors and leaving “leave behinds” or your business card with the office manager. We all know where those “leave behinds” and business cards go…Chateau De Trash Can.
Let’s see what happens when I run a search for Nuclear Physicist. You think these guys are on LinkedIn? There are more than 300+ on LinkedIn. I’m going to connect with them and build a Sales 2.0 flux capacitor for the DeLorean sales approach being used by those not utilizing social selling. We are going to usher them into the new world of sales and update those 1985 tactics. There are 200 conversations per minute occurring in LinkedIn groups. I have a hunch that customers are doing research, learning about solutions, and making buying decisions. You can become part of the conversation if you are connected and join in the discussion.
Feeling really curious, I ran a search looking for Farmers, Plumbers, and Butlers. Ha! They were all on LinkedIn. It’s pretty conclusive to me that any and everyone is on LinkedIn so why not use this valuable resource to help you connect with your customers and “ski downhill” versus “swimming upstream?” No matter what industry you are in, your customers and decision makers are on LinkedIn and they are connecting. LinkedIn has over 1500 School and University profiles. I bet you that professors, and school administrators are on LinkedIn. BTW, I have found Judges, Mayors, and even Press Secretaries on LinkedIn.
Here are some more DMR stats on LinkedIn. The stats are pretty impressive and you have an opportunity to take advantage of this to grow your network, connect with customers, build your pipeline, and close deals.
• LinkedIn more than 277 million total users.
• 41% of LinkedIn visits is via mobile.
• LinkedIn is available in over 20 languages.
• Every second there are two new LinkedIn members joining the network.
• The average number of groups a LinkedIn user joins is seven.
• There are 8000 new groups created weekly.