Making Business Connections with LinkedIn Part 2

  • Time: Saturday, 07 March 2015 00:00

In my last blog, I talked about setting yourself up with LinkedIn to make business connections. Now let's talk about getting those connections!

While getting out and talking with new people (AKA networking) is a great way to expand the group of people you know, how do you find he right people? There are two ways that LinkedIn can help. First is through the normal networking dynamic of someone you meet online refers business to you. The second is more proactive. You will use your connections to seek out leads and get introduced. Using the LinkedIn search engine, you can search through your contact's contacts for people that you want to meet. For example, start with a list of companies that you would like to sell into. LinkedIn can use that list to identify people that are connected to you that are connected to those companies. You might find that one of your contacts knows someone who knows the Chief Marketing Officer at one of your targets. Using LinkedIn, you can ask your contact to introduce you to the person that can introduce you to the Marketing Officer. What could be more valuable? Using LinkedIn to get to personal introductions to targets is one of the most powerful features of the tool, and one that many people overlook. Another tactic to use is to find out what groups these people and join them. This gives you the chance to meet people to talk about common interests. Once they get to know you, you can finesse yourself into getting an appointment to talk business.

Think about this, you can get a personal introduction and get to know your target before pitching your business. What is that worth to you? Often, it means the difference between a hang up and the acceptance of a meeting. This is the power of social media. With a little work and thought, you can meet almost anyone.

Making Business Connections with LinkedIn Part 1

  • Time: Friday, 06 March 2015 00:00

I'm sure that everyone reading this has heard of LinkedIn. But do you know why as a small or mid sized business it's important to have a professional presence on LinkedIn? Do you know how to make business connections with LinkedIn? Even if you think you know, read on and I'll discuss these subjects and pass on a few secrets on making business connections with LinkedIn. As with any marketing activity, there are a few basic setup activities that you need to get right before you go out into cyberspace.

There are three areas to concentrate on, starting with your profile. Of course you want to put your best foot forward, so start with a flattering photo. When someone sees you for the first time, you want to make a good impression, Hawaiian shirts, lamp shades on your head, crazy hats or cute cartoons have no place here. You need to look professional. Next, tell people who you are professionally. You don't want to put your resume up but details on your ant farm may be too personal. Use key phrases that are relevant to your background. People searching for someone like you will use terms specific to your industry and will use these keywords. The same rules that apply to Search Engine Optimizations (SEO) apply here. Use catchy headlines to describe what you do and follow that up with sound bites in the text. Keep in mind that most people won't remember everything that they read, but they will remember the short relevant phrases.

The next area to focus on is to complete your profile. You have you the space to fill out as much as you can about your past work experience. Put in all of your experience and positions. Categorize them to show your broad experience. These categories can be used as a framework to obtain recommendations, which is our next point. Use everything that the account gives you. Use this opportunity to get recommendations. Link to your other websites, accounts and places you publish articles and blogs. LinkedIn offers premium accounts for when you are ready to the step up. One thing to keep in mind here is that all of this is personal. It is not your business website. This is the place to put your special interests and special talents. On your business website, the About Us page has a short bio about you (or it should!). Point that bio to your LinkedIn page. Anyone that follows that link is looking to know you as a person, don't disappoint them with a superficial picture of yourself.

The last are to focus on is the social aspect of the media. Seek out groups (look in the Groups tab) that you have some connection with such as your college alumni groups or special interest groups. Often times you can find some of your old colleagues that you can connect with. At the very least, you will connect with new people here. If you can, start your own group on a subject that you have interest and expertise with. The idea is to make as many quality connections as you can. It's to talk to the world, but remember, you are looking for business connections.

In my next blog, I'll talk about extending what you have to get to prospects.

Getting Media Attention Through Social Media

  • Time: Monday, 02 February 2015 00:00

One of the best ways to get attention for your business is to get others to write about your business. While happy customers are great word of mouth networking sources, they don't compare to ratings a respected journalist brings. Compare a mention in a local flyer to an article in a national newspaper. The first is nice to have, the second one makes you money. It's the same on the Internet, get someone respected in the industry to write about you and the search engines will raise your ratings. "Great" you say, "but I don't know any journalists or influencers!" As the old adage goes, not having is no excuse for not getting. Here's a few ideas on how to find and talk to these people.
Before you go out to search the cyberworld, you need to understand a few things. Influencial people will not be very proactive in seaching you out. Few of them, if any, are actively searching for people to write about but most are listening for things, relevant things that their readers will find valuable. They have many people talking to them, so they can afford to be very selective. Now, how do you get them to listen to you? There are two key actions you need to take.
First, go out and find people that are writing about your industry or products right now. You can search Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn for people and group discussions that you can join. You can use sites such as Twitter Grader, Muck Ruck, Journalistic Tweets and others to help point you in the right direction. Spend some time on Technorati and Examiner.com to find blogs and articles on relevant subjects.
Once you have found the right people, you are ready for the step two. Reach out and follow the people you found. This is a journey not a destination. Most of them have a link to Twitter, FaceBook or some other way to stay in touch with them. Get in touch and stay in touch, develop a relationship with them. You will need to impress them with what you know in such a way that they will want to have you as a contact. This means that you will need to give them information of value for their readers. You do this by Tweeting or writing on their wall or commenting on their blog or whatever. Talk about their articles, maybe adding some details they weren't aware of. Tell them how you feel about a topic they wrote about, or suggest a new angle or topic. Remember, they won't listen to an advertisement about your business. Sometimes you might get lucky, the writer may be gathering thoughts and may be searching for material to write about. Here's is your opportunity to show what you know on the subject.
Your goal with all of this is to gain the respect and trust of the writer and not to sell them or their readers something. You don't build trust and relationships with a prospect with ads, you do it by providing them with something of value. When they have a problem or need, they will think of you as a solution provider, not a salesman. Good luck and good hunting!