How many of us can honestly say that we even know, let alone have a relationship with, any more than a small fraction of our connections on LinkedIn? I’m ashamed to admit that I do not.
I accept your invitation and … that’s it. We’re connected. What a waste. Based on my experience that few others will take any further steps to build our new relationship, that would make both of us losers. If you are in sales, you’re also losing commissions.
There is quite literally a ton of great information (perhaps an overwhelming amount), much of it actionable social intelligence, that can be found on someone’s LinkedIn profile alone. We need to put this to work for us so I am going to approach this task in exactly the same manner that I was brought up in selling.
Selling door-to-door, intelligence gathering started in the parking lot and ended up in the client’s office. Every little clue could potentially provide insight into their buying patterns, hot buttons, or interests that we had in common. Let’s apply these same info-gathering goals to social sales.
Take a look at my buddy, Stephen Lahey …
Where do we start? Let’s review his profile (section by section) and, as we talk about this, I am going to assume that either you do not have a CRM and/or that you are open to using LinkedIn as a quasi, or target market focused, CRM. What do I mean by that? I do think that a case can be made for using LinkedIn as a CRM, or for using LinkedIn in addition to a CRM, in order to add an additional social layer for your most important contacts.
We would like to do this overall review only once. Certainly, we will want to add to these notes as a person’s profile changes. For example, when they have posted an update to their status. We will take notes on the most important things that we find and we will then take these notes and transfer them to that person’s record. By doing this, everytime we go to their profile page we will have one notation area to review that will contain a summary of everything that is important (based on your own needs and definitions) about this person. Here are my suggested steps and it starts with the invitation to connect …
Step #1 – Say “Hi” and say “Thanks!”
You have accepted their invitation to connect, or you have extended an invitation (which you personalized!) and they have accepted. Respond back with a NON-SPAMMY note of thanks. Don’t try to sell them something. Don’t ask them to like your page on Facebook. Just say “Thanks, nice to meet you, and I’m looking forward to learning more about you and what you do”. That’s it!
Step #2 – Conduct an in-depth profile review
Before you get started, remember that you are going to be taking notes. How you do that is up to you but, I landed on a Chrome extension called “Sticky Notes – Just Popped Up!” to assist me with this task. It looks like this …
We take the notes in the box on the right (green check) and these will then be copied and pasted into notes for that record (red circle). Note that you will also be able to copy and paste sections from that person’s profile directly into your note box. Here are just a few of the areas that you will want to look at and you have to approach this process much the same as you would if you were prospecting for gold. You are going to have to sift through a lot of dirt in order to get to the nuggets.
- Look at their recent activity – In case you missed it, they’re back! Click the down arrow on the right hand side of the “Send a message” button in order to get there.
- What are they talking about and who are they talking, and connecting, to?
- If they are using publisher, what are they writing about?
- Review their entire profile including: summary, skills, education, jobs, causes, certifications, etc.
- Who are your shared connections?
- What can you tell about them and their personality?
- What are their interests?
- What skills do we have in common?
- What groups to they belong to and do we share any?
- Who and what companies do they follow (different from connections)?
- What can you learn about their company?
One of the most important final things that we can also do is to search their connections for potential contacts that we might be introduced to. That’s one of the reasons that we are on LinkedIn, yes? We’ve all probably done searches on LinkedIn but, searching someone’s specific connections only takes this to a much higher level, Here is a search of Stephen’s first degree contacts who have the title “sales manager” (pick your own target connection criteria) …
Step #3 – Set the stage for your next steps
Your next steps should be centered around developing a relationship and then continuing to build on that. Set recurring reminders, take notes from each interaction, plan your next action, and review your notes prior to taking that next action. In my opinion, recurring reminders are critical in sales. You have to make the touches, multiple times, and do so consistently.
When was the last time that you called on somebody for the very first time and they responded with “Amazing! I was just about to call you (or a need for your product just came up)”? How about never. Your goal is to stay top-of-mind and this is how that is done.
When you are done, it all ends up looking something like this where a profile summary note has been created, a tag has been added (remember that you can use multiple tags), a recurring reminder has been set (you can also do one-time reminders for specific tasks), and a note has also been logged that will remind me of how we met and who introduced us ….
Step #4 – Don’t stop there!
There’s still more to be done! You’re just getting warmed up.
- Can you, should you, connect on other social networks?
- Be sure to comment on, or like, their updates (where appropriate) or to share those forward (taps and touches) to your own network.
- Use the “saved” contacts feature to start lining them up before you approach them for a more formal connection.
- Conduct a Google search in order to discover more hidden gems of information.
Let’s make it easy! Get started now by figuring out who to connect with on LinkedIn and reaching out to 10 connections per week, more if you wish. That’s only two per day but, feel free to do more! Think about using an “A”‘ “B”‘, “C” tagging system to set recurring reminders to engage (tap or touch) weekly, monthly, or quarterly. If they don’t respond, make the hard choice and decide whether to keep them as a connection or to tag them as “D” for delete.
What say you? What suggestions might you be willing to share and add to this conversation?
Here are a few more important LinkedIn tips on 8 actions that successful people take on LinkedIn in this great infographic from Alice Heiman LLC.