Monthly Archives: August 2013

How to build trust using social media for lead generation

How to build trust using social media for lead generationCold calling’s a numbers game. If you ring 100 people a percentage are going to agree to meet you and some will eventually buy from you.

Social media isn’t going to radically change these percentages if you use it as an ‘old style’ sales tool.

Let’s face it, being contacted by someone you’ve never heard of to take a look at their product or to meet with them can be pretty irritating – regardless of whether it’s by phone or via a social network.

Some tell you, you have connections in common who think you should meet with them – if that’s the case, have the mutual connection tell you that! 9 times out of 10 I bet your connection doesn’t even know the person is contacting you. It’s a thinly veiled cold call.

Tom Skotidas, a specialist in the field of B2B lead generation, put it really well when he said: Over time reach out to people and move relationships beyond LinkedIn but only once you’ve built trust by sharing insights.”

What does that mean?

How to build trust using social media

  • You’ve got to give before you ask.
  • Share information and insights people will find valuable.
  • Answer their questions.
  • Give away some of your knowledge for free.
  • Enable people to make an informed call about whether you’re someone who knows what they’re talking about.
  • Don’t ask for that meeting until you’ve proven your worth and earned the right to meet offline

By building trust, when it comes to the meeting….

  • The other person will already know about you.
  • They’ll understand how you can help.
  • The meeting won’t be cold. It’s going to be more valuable for the other person and for you. And it’s more likely it will lead to work.

When professionals tell me that social media doesn’t work, I wonder what they’re doing.

  • Perhaps they’re relying on a half arsed profile
  • Or they’re spamming other users by requesting meetings BEFORE they’ve demonstrated their worth and built any sort of relationship.

Social media’s not a silver bullet. You have to consistently put in time and effort to reap the rewards.  But reap them you can.  All it takes is a genuine passion for helping others and less focus on getting people to become your clients RIGHT NOW.

Action: You can start right now in building trust with your social media connections.  Look back at what you’ve done over the past week and how you have engaged with your connections.  Re-read the list above and make necessary changes to your tactics going forward.  Think about what makes you feel a connection with a person online and duplicate this behaviour.
Have you come across ‘cold calling’ practices on social media?  If so, has it ever resulted in you doing business with that person?

 

LinkedIn Groups: A golden opportunity for professionals

If you’re a lawyer, accountant, engineer or other professional looking to raise your profile, find and engage more of your ideal prospects and get new work, LinkedIn groups are a great tool.

Well-run groups are their own community of people with similar interests. They’re a fantastic place to find and engage your prospects.

While you’ll definitely want to join groups to which your ideal prospects belong, you should consider setting up your own group if there’s a gap.

Why set up your own LinkedIn group?

There are multiple benefits of doing so, including:

  • Building your profile in your area of expertise.
  • Positioning yourself as an authority in your area.
  • Finding and attracting those with similar interests or who may need your help.
  • Widening your professional network by building relationships with group members.
  • Learning more about the views and perspectives of those in your industry.
  • Establishing a community.
  • Generating interest in you and your firm, including inbound enquiries.

However, if you decide to do so you’ll need to make sure you plan it properly and designate time to build it.

How to set up and run a LinkedIn group that delivers value to its members

The vast majority of LinkedIn groups are a waste of time because they haven’t been nurtured or policed. As a result they’re either very small with little activity or they’re full of spam. To make sure yours doesn’t go the same way, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Plan – what’s the purpose of your group? What’s the scope of discussions you want to see? Who do you want to join? What discussions will you start each week?
  2. Create your group – ensure you use Keywords in the name so that people searching the LinkedIn groups directory can easily find it, and write a clear summary and description that will appeal to those you want to join.
  3. SKIP the step which prompts you to send invitations to join your group – why would anyone want to join an unpopulated group?
  4. Populate your group with at least 2 discussions. A welcome discussion is always a good one, as people like to comment on these.
  5. Get your house in order by selecting your settings, permissions, drafting your group rules, templates and setting up sub-groups (if appropriate).
  6. Pre-approve your group managers (you can have up to 10 including the Owner) and a few ‘friendly’ clients and colleagues who you’d like to join the group early. The aim is to get them to comment on the existing discussions and to add their own so that, when you invite others to join, there is already some activity.
  7. You’re now ready to invite others. You can use LinkedIn’s standard one liner but it doesn’t really tell people why they should join so you may want to consider a personalised email to each of those you wish to invite. You can work from a template so it’s simply a case of inserting their name each time.
  8. Commit to ongoing moderation of your group. If people have to request to join or have their discussions approved before they’ll post (a good option to prevent spam), ensure you, or one of the group managers, goes in at least once a day to do so. It’s really frustrating for group members if they try to post something and it takes a week or two to be approved – often it’s out of date by that time.
  9. Start one new discussion each week in the early days. If you want people to return to your group it’s important that there’s fresh, relevant content. You’ll need to drive this until the group takes on a life of its own.
  10. Comment on others’ discussions and stay involved in threads that you start. You may want to summarise these at the end or to put together blog posts summarising a discussion. Remember to give credit to each contributor.
  11. Continue to invite people to join the group and encourage others to do so. You may want to ask your PA to send out a certain number of invites on your behalf each week.
  12. Promote your LinkedIn group. For example, you could include it in your email signature, on your website, your blog, your newsletters etc.
  13. Look for opportunities to move relationships beyond LinkedIn. For example, you may want to hold an event or a webinar for group members, you may invite someone in the group to write a guest article, you may seek their opinion on something. The options are endless.
  14. Monitor and analyse key statistics about your group. This will enable you to track its growth, determine what’s working well, understand what you need to do differently, and track leads generated by the group.

 How’s doing so benefited others? 

 In early 2011, a lawyer I know set up a group on employment law issues for HR Directors and Managers. A little over a year later the group had grown to over 1,000 members and the firm had hosted two HR Question Times in its offices. In total, almost 200 people attended, the vast majority of who were NOT clients of the firm.

The lawyer and his colleagues were able to start to build relationships and to generate work as a result. He describes this as the most successful business development initiative his firm has ever undertaken.

To benefit from running a LinkedIn group you’ve got to be prepared to give it the time and effort it deserves (I spend around 30-60 mins a week on the group I run). However, the effort is well worth it. Remember to focus on others and their needs rather than how they can help you, and you’ll start to see a pay-off.

If you would like more info about setting up and running a successful LinkedIn group, my e-book “Complete Guide to LinkedIn Groups: Network with the right people. Generate new leads. Get new business” is now available for NZ$ 18.97. 

Tips to run a successful LinkedIn Group for professionals

What does it take to set up and run a LinkedIn group that people want to join?

And want to participate in?

I talked to Tom Skotidas to get his view.

Tom runs Skotidas, a leading digital agency in B2B social media lead generation. 

His group, Social Media Lead Generation, which he set up in late 2010 has over 3,300 members (it’s open to client side business to business marketers only). There’s a lot of activity, some great conversations and no spam. It’s a great example of a well-managed group.

Click on the play button below to listen to the recording. I’ve summarised the key points below.

Key points Tom made include:

  • Social media gives you the ability to access your prospective audience directly and see exactly who you’re reaching out to. (Click to Tweet)
  • Tom’s insights into how he tracked $3.5 million of revenue in his old job back to people he’d met via social media.
  • You have to work hard and spend time on social media to see results but the payoff is enormous. (Click to Tweet) Social media rewards those who work hard and it’s important to take a long term approach.
  • Setting up a LinkedIn group enables you to take a team approach to talking to prospects. (Click to Tweet)  Personal LinkedIn newsfeeds rarely produce fruitful dialogue whereas dialogue is a hallmark of LinkedIn groups. You can build insights and relationships via groups so much quicker than via your newsfeed. (Click to Tweet)
  • Inmail works really well as a tool to invite people to join groups because you’re not asking them for a sale or for a high involvement interaction. (Click to Tweet)
  • Member involvement is key to the success of a group. You need to know who you’re inviting, why and what the group’s about. The best groups have members posting content and members commenting. It must be on-topic. (Click to Tweet)
  • It’s important to speak to members offline and to prompt them to participate in a thread when they have unique experience to share. Be a good host. Source content, go to members and offer it to them to post in order to build their brand.  Thank people for participating. Treat social media forums like real life ones…think about what best group management behaviour looks like in real life, and apply this to your group. (Click to Tweet)
  • Groups are a numbers game. The percentage of members who will actively participate in a group typically ranges between 1-5%. Others lurk, some ignore. You need at least 200 members to get this member activity to a minimum critical mass.
  • There’s very little that doesn’t work well when you focus on building an engaging group.
  • Post topics that resonate; i.e. topics that most members would have come across at some point in their careers. Do your research to find out what these might be. Some topics you think will generate discussion turn out to be sleepers. Others will surprise you.
  • When thinking of starting a group, start with the money. What’s the product/service you want to sell? Focus your LinkedIn group on one category and make the group a representation of your product or service. (Click to Tweet) Build the group around that category. Love the members to death with content and insights around the category. Operate like a doctor or surgeon – don’t sell.
  • Over time reach out to people and move relationships beyond LinkedIn but only once you’ve built trust by sharing insights. Your group activity helps accelerate the sales cycle. (Click to Tweet)
  • Tom’s group is an ongoing source of leads for his agency. All B2B relies on 3 key drivers(and Tom’s LinkedIn group has helped Skotidas with all three):
    • Brand building (positioning and awareness)
    • Demand generation (growing demand for that which you sell – a good tactic is sharing third party content as this is often more credible than our own – especially if it’s by a traditional news source)
    • Lead generation – both inbound and outbound. However, outbound lead generation is based on having offered extreme value before calling someone.
  • Before setting up a group, have a clear strategy behind it, a strong category focus and consider building it up with partners who can bring different perspectives. (Click to Tweet) It takes thousands of hours to build a thriving group so invest in 2 or 3 people to help manage it.
What else would you add? 
If you would like more info about setting up and running a successful LinkedIn group, my e-book “Complete Guide to LinkedIn Groups: Network with the right people. Generate new leads. Get new business” is now available for NZ$ 18.97. 

Play image courtesy Digitalart@freedigitalphotos.net

LinkedIn group top tips: Interview with John Grimley

It’s easy to set up a LinkedIn group.

But it’s remarkably difficult to find really valuable ones.

Either they’re full of spam, or cover such a broad range of topics that the majority are irrelevant to you.

Some groups are hijacked by the same people every time.

Or are inactive.

How can you ensure that your group doesn’t suffer the same fate?

If you run or are looking at setting up a LinkedIn group and want to ensure it delivers true value to members then this post is for you.

I spoke to John Grimley, who runs two successful LinkedIn groups - International Business Development Blog, which has over 2,400
members and Asia Law Portal, a relatively new group, with around 500 members – about how he’s gone about it.

 

In the following audio-interview (29 mins long) he shares the lessons he’s learnt and his tips. It’s well worth a listen. I’ve also summarised below some of his key messages.


Key highlights include:

LinkedIn is THE online business portal. It allows you to contact anyone in the world from your desktop.(Click to Tweet this Tip)
• John had read about LinkedIn groups and participated in several including Business in Japan and China Law Blog. He saw how these had grown and how well managed they were and decided to emulate them in his area.
• For a LinkedIn group to be successful you need quality content that’s regularly updated and quality management. (Click to Tweet this Tip) The manager(s) needs to keep the group discussions focused on conversations in that niche and ensure these don’t go off-topic. This allows the group to develop its identity.
• When setting up a LinkedIn group it’s important to take a long-term view and to nurture the group as it grows. (Click to Tweet this Tip)
A ‘please introduce yourself’ discussion is a great one to break the ice. It allows group members to meet one-another.
A LinkedIn group is a virtual referral network – it can be cost and time efficient. (Click toTweet this Tip) It’s almost a virtual meet-up. You’ve got an audience ready and willing to join your group if you make it attractive enough.
• Even if you work in a small organisation you can use social media including LinkedIn groups to amplify your messages, connect to people and reach more of your ideal targets around the world.
Find news of particular interest to your group membership. To do this use traditional news sources, trade media, bloggers etc. Curate this and bring it to the membership so they have an opportunity to read, learn and ask questions.
Write to people you’re connected to on LinkedIn to invite them to join your group (if they might be interested). Then search for others. Use a combination of email, LinkedIn email and Inmail to invite them. One challenge is you can’t personalise the LinkedIn group invites using the invite feature but you should try to send tailored invites wherever possible.
• If you’re setting up a really focused LinkedIn group consider interviewing potential group members before allowing them to join. (Click to Tweet this Tip)
• Remember that subgroups are essentially groups and take the same time commitment as a regular group to run.
• As a group manager you need to think about curating content, managing the group, editing out spam and keeping conversations going. LinkedIn’s recently changed things so the newest discussions appear on top (you can choose your view and select between ‘What’s happening’ and ‘Latest discussions’) which may be LinkedIn’s way of showing that groups require active management.
• There are a lot of places people can go for information. You’ve got to think ‘Why would/should they come to your group?’
Make your LinkedIn group about content and conversation not about selling. Don’t think of it as anything but a labour of love. (Click to Tweet this Tip) Actively manage it on an hour-by-hour basis. People will get to know you and will come to you if they need help.
• In order to encourage group members to participate in the group rotate your managers’ choice to focus on a theme you want members to think about. (Click to Tweet this Tip) Where time permits, thank people for their contribution and suggest they write/post around a particular topic.
LinkedIn groups are about news and information NOT advertising. (Click to Tweet this Tip) It’s important that people understand the distinction.
A LinkedIn group can be a magnet for referrals. (Click to Tweet this Tip)
Define your group around the TOPIC you’re covering and NOT your firm name. (Click to Tweet this Tip) Build up your use of other social platforms. Learn as much as you can every day about how you can make it better.
• John has developed clients and income from his groups. He’s met people working in a similar area and has got to know lawyers with a thirst for knowledge about how to develop their business.

If you would like more info about setting up and running a successful LinkedIn group, my e-book “Complete Guide to LinkedIn Groups: Network with the right people. Generate new leads. Get new business” is now available for NZ$ 18.97.