Last month we discussed the importance of proper planning and of setting goals prior to jumping into social media for B2B sales. Today let’s talk about your critical first steps. Call it setting up house. Although we are going to concentrate on LinkedIn, the basics of what we discuss and advice will apply to all of the social networks for B2B sales.
Your choice of which email address to use is important! One of the topics that I don’t see mentioned too often relates to your choice of email addresses. I might have 10 or more. With texting and social media becoming more and more prevalent, some think that email may be dead or dying. Guess again. What is the glue that one way or another holds most of these social networks together? It’s your email address. Not only is it a common method for logging into a service, it is also one of the universal methods that the social networks use to find and to identify you. Part of social media is finding new people. The second part is being found. Because of this, I would strongly suggest that you choose one email address to use for all of your social networking activities. This also makes things easier to remember.
Your profile (particularly on LinkedIn) is your on-line resume and you only get one chance to make a good first impression. I am constantly amazed by some of the LinkedIn profiles I see … no photos, no location, incomplete names, no description, and spotty work histories. My amazement ceases when I remember how my profile first looked and how it looked for some time. If you want people to connect with you, appreciate your expertise, or even just be able to find you … you must complete your profile and do it professionally before you do anything else! Anything! And, if you are looking for a new position, make double-sure that your printed resume matches your LinkedIn profile.
There are a variety of areas on your LinkedIn profile that are searchable via keywords and LinkedIn has its own powerful search engine. What keywords would people use to find a person in your area that offers your products or services? Do your own search on LinkedIn and see who comes up in the top results. Now go to their profiles and you will find those keywords highlighted. This will give you a very good indication of where you will want to use those words and others and where they need to be in your profile. As in Google search, the goal remains to be first page.
Now that your profile is looking fabulous, let’s start connecting. LinkedIn is going to encourage you to upload your contact lists from Gmail, Outlook, wherever. I probably looked at this for 6 months before actually taking that step. I was concerned about privacy and, frankly, I wasn’t too sure what LinkedIn planned to do with these. What if, for example, it just blasted invitations out to everybody who was on my list? Well, it can do that and, if you get in a rush and push the wrong button, it will. So, take it slow. The benefit of uploading your lists is three-fold. LinkedIn will identify those who are already on the service that you know (based on email addresses) and those are likely your best people to start connecting with. The service will also allow you to invite others to join LinkedIn. Finally, when folks who are not on LinkedIn decide to join up, you will be alerted of this and prompted to potentially connect with them.
If you want folks to connect with you, be honest and take the time to personalize your connection request! LinkedIn’s boilerplate invitation says one thing … you don’t care enough about making this connection to take the time to personalize it. If you are my “friend” and we have never met, in some eyes that may brand you as a liar. But, let’s be pragmatic about it. If we did meet casually, or you just want to connect, at least remind me of our association or provide me with the reasons for your request, in your invitation. If we have no direct connection, and we are at least second degree connections, I would strongly suggest that you follow the appropriate LinkedIn protocol and request an introduction via your first degree connection. It might be more work but, that person will likely give you a personal recommendation and what’s not to like about that!
Link it up! Make it easy for folks to find and connect with you! Be sure to add links to your profile wherever it would be appropriate: your website, your business card, your letterhead, other social networks, and your email signature line. I love WiseStamp for Gmail or Google Apps and it will also work on other services. Outlook has the built-in capability to create HTML signature lines. For identifying folks that you will want to potentially connect to, and your email inbox is a gold mine for this, try Rapportive for Gmail/Google Apps (recently purchased by LinkedIn), Xobni for Outlook, and LinkedIn’s Outlook Social Connector. Nimble Social CRM does an awesome job of allowing you to connect with someone on all of the major networks!
Your suggestions in adding to this list are most welcome! What are some actionable items that I may have missed or other advice?