I Never Knew These Social Media Tricks
I was interviewing Dr. John Leininger, Graphic Arts professor at Clemson University, about best practices in using social media for lead prospecting and, in just a few minutes, he made me really think hard about how I’m using social media. In fact, even though it’s all related, once he asked his first questions we never really got back on track to discussing his class. Before I could even begin my interview he queried: "How many LinkedIn connection requests do you receive that are just generic requests? And, how many of those do you accept?"
Well, my answer was that most are simply the automatic request emails and, if I don’t already know the person, I don’t accept them unless I check out their profile and find them to be interesting. So, the first thing he taught me is that simply clicking "connect" while using LinkedIn to prospect for leads is disastrous. Instead, if I really want to connect to someone I don’t know, I need to edit the request note to include a reason…and it probably isn’t that I want to sell them something. Fortunately, tools like LinkedIn can provide reasons to connect. Did you graduate from the same school? Do you have the same degree? Are you from the same city? Did you work for or do business with the same company in the past?
Let’s back up. If you’re using social media for prospecting, how did you find this person to whom you’re trying to connect and why do you want to connect with them? Well, in this situation, you probably started by using some sort of tool like ReferenceUSA to find a target company and identify key decision makers in that company. Now that you know who they are you looked for them in places like Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more about them and to find a commonality to get a foot in the door. Hey, 40 years ago salespeople tracked information like this about key contacts by writing contact names with birthdays, schools, family names, interests, and so forth down on manila folders for target accounts. This is just bringing that process into the 21st century.
Of course, the first thing anyone does after considering a connection request is to click on your profile. This means that they are now researching you in much the same way you researched them. Who are you? What do you do? What is your background? Where do you work? This means that your profile and your company’s profile are the first advertisement people see. Do they really represent you and give people a reason to connect with you? If you’re a Marketing Services Provider (MSP) does your profile scream MSP with case studies, success stories, blog articles, and general writing that provide compelling reasons to believe you really know what you’re doing? Or, does your profile look like a resume?
By this point John had opened my LinkedIn profile and was tearing it apart…and I was agreeing with him to the point where last night I rewrote my summary while realizing just how much more work I need to do. But, our time was up and I really hadn’t interviewed him about his upcoming, four-week online "Lead Prospecting with a Social Media Twist" course for the PODi Institute. What I do know about his course is that:
- It covers how to use various cross-referencing tools to research companies to find initial contacts and information about them
- He’ll provide homework and coaching to help students practice effectively doing this
- It’ll cover how to identify vertical markets, to research them, and to identify prospect goals and objectives
- It’ll cover using LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, twitter feeds and other tools
- And, of course, he’ll go into much more depth and coaching on how to position and present yourself and your company to garner the right attention
- It will be held at 2:00 p.m. Eastern for the four Wednesdays starting July 15
- You can register here at the PODi Institute website
Given how much I learned in 20 minutes on the phone with him, I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of knowledge and insights he’ll share in the span of a full course with assignments and one-on-one coaching. I just know that this was one of the most fun and valuable interviews I’ve run in a very long time—even though I completely lost control of it.
Greg Cholmondeley is president of Cholmonco Inc. Cholmonco is a technology marketing consulting company that researches, analyzes and documents best practices and innovative solutions. Cholmondeley is especially interested in how industry leaders efficiently get work through digital printing and marketing services operations. He has also written two fictional novels. The first is titled “Nakiwulo and the Circle of Shiva” and the second is called “Princess.” You can learn more about his consulting practice and read more of his blogs at www.cholmonco.com. You can discover his books at http://books.cholmonco.com.