Social Media for B2B Sales – Establishing and Expanding Your Networks

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Regardless of your choice of social networking sites to utilize for social media for B2B sales, the power of each will lie in your connections and those who are connected to your connections. By expanding our networks, we are effectively able to do the same with our sales territory. In order for any of this to work, we need to first establish our presence and the logical place to begin that process is with our existing contacts.

Each of the major social media websites that could be potentially be used for B2B sales will offer you the opportunity to upload your existing contact lists from the most popular email programs and, in some cases, from other sources. In the absolute worst case scenario, if you have a valuable list that you cannot upload directly to a network, take the time to transfer it to your email list first and you will then be good to go. Besides, what benefit is there in having multiple disparate lists lying all over the place? This is a critical step as …

  • The network will indicate who you know that is already using the service
  • Encourage you to connect on this network with your existing contacts

Our next step is to expand our network. Before we begin doing this, we will want to ask ourselves some critical questions as the answers to these will help to dictate our overall strategy …

  • Do I want and need a large number of connections regardless of the quality of those connections?
  • Geographically, does it make sense to limit myself to a specific area?
  • Where are my key contacts and desired connections most likely to be found? Are they on Twitter? How about LinkedIn or Facebook?

We have several tools and techniques available for expanding our network …

  • Start by learning about who your existing contacts are talking to. Not only will you have a built-in reference for introduction, if my contact is interested in these folks, I probably should be interested in them as well.
  • Custom searches on the networks, and a variety of free tools (Twellow for example) that are designed to assist you in finding new connections, are all valuable resources. You can do so geographically, by industry, or by both as well as by using other criteria such as keywords. This is where targeting becomes important. Up until 3 years ago, I had spent the better part of the previous 15 years in the electric sign industry. After 10 years of management and ownership positions, I chose to close out the last 5 years of this section of my life as an independent sales contractor on a commission only basis. My marketing efforts were based 100% on referrals. I received these referrals from commercial realtors, general contractors, commercial developers, and architects. Today, I would be able to take a free tool like SocialBro, enter in the keywords “boise architect”, and with a few clicks follow every architect in the valley who has a presence on Twitter. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
  • See who your contacts are connected to on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ and consider connecting with those also. Are you aware that you can actually subscribe to all of the people on one of your Twitter connection’s lists (unless they have made it private) and be able to do so with one keystroke? If you are a Guerrilla Marketer (and what’s not to love about that?) you may find lists on your competitor’s Twitter site titled “best customers” or “employees”. Might not those be fun to follow?
  • You can now subscribe, without actually friending, to many people’s updates on Facebook. You can also follow companies on LinkedIn. These are great ways to start a relationship prior to formally connecting.
  • All sites are becoming very active about suggesting users for you to connect with based on your interests and/or their similarity to your existing connections. LinkedIn is becoming notably aggressive in this area.
  • Join some groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. Participate in Tweetchats on Twitter. These are great ways to meet new like-minded folks outside of your networks and are excellent first steps to a more formal connection. The same can be said for Answers on LinkedIn.
  • BranchOut is an application which will turn your Facebook connections into a LinkedIn-like site but for Facebook. Brilliant!
  • I’m not a huge fan of Klout but, it is a valuable resource for finding influential people as is determined by Klout’s lame algorithm which lowers my score by 10 points every time they decide to adjust their formulas. Not that this has any effect at all on my opinion of their fine service :) Jokes aside, Klout can be quite instrumental in assisting you in the evaluation of potential connections. Kred and PeerIndex are two other such services.
  • While I do not use these, there are a number of automated programs such as Tweet Adder and Tweet Spinner that will help you to build your Twitter network.
  • Please be sure to customize your connection requests wherever possible. This is certainly an option on LinkedIn and you are plumb stupid if you don’t exercise that option. You get one chance to connect. If you send me a template message that indicates that you are my friend, and I have never even heard of you, the likelihood of my accepting your request is minimal. I’m not saying that my choice in this regard is either right or wrong. It’s just my decision.

There are many applications that are very well designed for expanding your networks for the purpose of social media for B2B sales. Nimble Social CRM, SproutSocial, and HootSuite come to mind. You will be able  to monitor and engage with your contact’s social conversations. You can follow people on Twitter, invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn, or invite them to friend on Facebook. Watch for opportunities to connect with  those folks who your contact is conversing with.

As you expand your connections, please remember the basic rules of engagement in social media for B2B sales … listen and then engage with the appropriate message, at the appropriate time, and via the appropriate channel.

Since nothing happens until somebody sells something, might you have a social media for B2B sales success story that you could share with others? Your chance to shine!

Craig Jamieson
Craig M. Jamieson contributes a monthly column on Social Selling. Craig has been in B2B sales since 1977 and during that time has served in a variety of positions including; sales manager, division sales manager, national sales manager, district manager, and as a business owner. He is the managing partner of Adaptive Business Services in Boise, Idaho which owns and operates NetWorks! Boise Valley B2B Networking Groups, is a Nimble Social CRM & HootSuite Solution Partner, a TTI Performance Systems VAA, and Craig also conducts workshops and seminars relating to sales and social business applications. +Craig Jamieson
Craig Jamieson

@CraigMJamieson

Social Sales Trainer and Author Helping Businesses To Increase Their Revenues, Nimble SCRM Solution Partner, TTI VAA, Own & Operate B2B Networking Groups
What Running a Leads Group Taught Me About Networking http://t.co/dMGgE0YHLI - 48 mins ago
Craig Jamieson
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