I remember when I started training B2B companies on leveraging LinkedIn for lead generation. At that time, in 2011, I had 500 or so LinkedIn connections. I was very strong at leveraging LinkedIn as a 1 way communication tool to book net new opportunities. In 2011, this was radically different than what 99.9% of sales professionals were doing. At that time, LinkedIn was truly a repository for resumes, and I was amongst a small minority using LinkedIn in conjunction to phone and email. I feel privileged to be an early pioneer in what is now call “Social Selling”.
Man have I matured!
The world has also matured. No longer is communication with a prospective buyer a 1 way street. Yes of course, I still use InMail’s, and yes of course, I still do Social Lead Generation, but it’s now only a fraction of my LinkedIn activity.
What have a learnt in 3 years and 3,500 LinkedIn 1st degree connections?
My LinkedIn profile is my digital newspaper
It’s always perplexed my when I meet sales professionals that push back on growing their LinkedIn network. They rarely connect with buyers in fear that competitors will see these connections. To me, this is insane! This is like their LinkedIn profile is a newspaper, but they don’t want to take on new subscribers or advertisers, as if they’ll let out a big secret. Here is the big secret I’ve learnt… FAR more opportunities have come from LinkedIn connections than have been stolen because of LinkedIn.
Think of your LinkedIn network as if you owned a newspaper called “You Corporation”. Your job is to expand your exposure. Today, you take 8 hours to make 30,50, 100 phone calls, to reach 100 people. I share 1 article in 30 seconds, and 4,000+ are potentially reached (let alone the 2nd and 3rd degree viral nature of LinkedIn).
A relationship today is a dollar tomorrow
I have clients and employees now that I connected to on LinkedIn in 2012! I hate hearing from sales professionals that “I don’t want to connect to that person, they’re not a decision-maker. Guess what, most of you aren’t either, but that doesn’t mean:
1) You won’t be one day
2) You don’t know people in positions of power
But, having people in your network is ½ the battle. You need to leverage this power by educating and providing valuable insight. There will be untapped opportunities!
Social Selling activity for activities sake, is a poor use of time
This is where Social Selling has got a bad wrap. So many sales professionals are still treating LinkedIn as a 1 way street. So many sales professionals are engaged in “activities”, but these activities are yielding little results. Thus, like anything, the blame game begins. These people are questioning to validity to Social Selling, but almost ALWAYS are missing the other side of the street – CONTENT. Education is the foundation of Social Selling, and its ability to shape and influence a buyer’s decision-making process. Unfortunately, so many sales professionals still think that posting their corporate press releases.
I treat the “Social Reach” growth of my network seriously
I have become laser-focused over the last 2 years about growing my LinkedIn network as if was directly tied to our corporate bank account. You know why? Because it’s become directly proportional to our success. I’ve evolved to understanding that the more people I can influence, the great probability I’ll be introduced into opportunities.