“LinkedIn is like the gym, you get out of it what you put into it.”
Editor’s note: A version of this article previously appeared at RecommendedAdvisor.com.
I use and connect through all available modes of communication, such as social networks like Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook, and old traditional methods of face-to-face, the telephone, and email. My goal is to use social media to connect with a prospect online, solidify the communication with a DM or email, and ultimately schedule a face-to-face chat for coffee. I’ll even settle for a Skype conversation, Go-To-Meeting or a phone call. The point is to understand what mode of communication your prospect prefers and adapt to their preference. Like exercising at the gym, if you are going to put in the effort, make sure you are using the right equipment.
Social Prospecting Technique:
Depending on the success rate of the proactive medium, I adjust accordingly. I like to start with LinkedIn by narrowing my search through “keywords,” then filter down by geographic region. (You can also search keywords and geography on Twitter and Facebook.) For example, if I am looking for people involved in healthcare services and social or digital media, I search for “healthcare and digital,” or “healthcare and social.” If my goal is to set up a face-to-face meeting, I then narrow it down to Boston, Connecticut, or New York. Fifty LinkedIn messages will result in 3 to 5 face-to-face meetings, or at the very least, 5 to 8 phone conversations. I prefer to meet people in person. Follow up is crucial. If you don’t keep track of who you have contacted, who has connected you, who has connected and hasn’t responded, you will get lost and eventually give up. After my first message wave, I track who responded and who didn’t respond and place those messages in appropriately labeled folders, such as “Sent Email,” “Sent Invite,” “Answered Email,” “Meeting,” etc. so I can follow up with a second wave of messages.
I am not trying to recreate the phonebook online. I don’t want meaningless connections in my LinkedIn network, or any network for that matter; I want my network to be strong and powerful.
Before I send my invitation to connect, I do a very brief search of their online history to discover a commonality we may share. If they have their own website, I can compliment them on it. If they commented on a blog or Facebook post, I will also go and comment on it. The connection clues are everywhere. Talk about them and their interests to start the conversation. They are online for a reason—figure out that reason and help them accomplish what they are trying to accomplish, and you will forever be connected.
If I am really interested in the prospect above the others on the search list, I also send a Twitter message and look at their Linkedin message (I may expand this to Facebook, Pinterest, Quora and other networks). I find the cross-platform method increases my contact rate by 50%.
Twitter message response from a LinkedIn, Twitter convo:
Newly discovered friend admiring the cross-platform strategy:
Proactive Twitter reach-out based on my online profile and presence:
Twitter, Linkedin combo message response after connecting for a follow-up phone call:
I discover what they are doing, what their challenges and struggles are, and then I am able to form a basis for my value proposition when they ask me what I do. What a coincidence—I work with many companies that were in your same exact situation, and I helped them leverage social technology to…you get the idea.
My main goal is to have people come seek me directly for solutions to their problems. This is my utopia. This is like for many salesmen and women who have a prospect purchase their solution without even seeing a demo. A recent prospect came to me via a LinkedIn group message response that wasn’t even directed to him, I didn’t even know he existed. He found me and read my profile. My profile provided enough clues about a solution to prompt a meeting. Everyone is watching on Social.
Proactive message to me based on a response I gave in a LinkedIn group:
Follow-up meeting with the gentleman he is consulting for:
Social networking allows me to leverage my message and get myself out there. What I do with the new opportunities is totally up to me and my tenacity to stay organized and follow up!
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– Rich LoPresti, Account Director Engage121