LinkedIn reminders – a lead-generation goldmine

Social media platforms by their very nature encourage us to be social. So they prompt us to engage with our connections, friends or followers by sending us little reminders of events – anniversaries, birthdays, what we were doing 2 years ago etc.

Now for most social media networks, these are a prompt to be just social because you don’t talk business on them. Yes, you might send around the odd offer but it’s interrupt marketing.

LinkedIn is a different type of social media. It’s a business networking tool. So whilst LinkedIn reminders are no different, you can use them differently. You’ll get LinkedIn reminders for birthdays, work anniversaries, new jobs and more. But the social element give the perfect lead in to talk business. On LinkedIn people expect you to talk business, while being sociable.

 

Using LinkedIn reminders – a real example

Let me give you an example that happened to me. I got a reminder that it was one of one of my connection’s birthday. I had done some work building a system for their company around 6 years earlier. Here’s the actual conversation from LinkedIn with only the contact and client names changed to protect confidentiality:

 

On 12/29/2015, Allen Ruddock said the following:

Happy Birthday Sally! Hope all is going well for you at XYZ Ltd. Allen

10:45 AM

On 12/29/2015, Sally said the following:

Many thanks Allen Yes all good – how about you? Sally

11:05 AM

On 12/29/2015, Allen Ruddock said the following:

Very good thanks. How is sharepoint holding up for you? Allen

10:14 PM

On 12/30/2015, Sally said the following:

Sharepoint is good, but we are in desperate need of ‘upgrading’ it. If you have any time available to discuss I would very much appreciate it. If I don’t speak to you before happy New Year. Sally

10:05 AM

On 12/30/2015, Allen Ruddock said the following:

Hi Sally, Very happy to come in for a chat about Sharepoint. Are you in the office today/tomorrow with some time for a coffee? Allen

10:16 AM

On 12/30/2015, Sally said the following:

I’m in the office tomorrow until lunchtime so could have a coffee and a chat in the morning if that’s good for you? Thanks Sally

 

From a simple tailored happy birthday message and a willingness tp engage, I reconnected to an old client and generated a new business opportunity. How powerful is that?

LinkedIn reminders provide opportunities like this every single day.

But only if you are connected to your clients and prospects.

But only if you tailor the suggested message. Make it personal.

It didn’t take much – just enough to show I had taken the trouble to engage and not just sent the standard message.

Notice that I wasn’t selling, I was just asking a question. But it opened the door.

 

Missed opportunities

So many people take the lazy option and just click send on the standard message. As a result those messages end up in the trash folder. They get as much attention as it took to send the message. A single click. Delete!

Facebook will tell you it’s your friend’s birthday and invite you to write on their timeline. You have to write something personal. Don’t let the LinkedIn reminders ‘helpful’ message make you lazy. Take the trouble you would on Facebook and make it personal. Make it engaging.

 

Do you want these opportunities?

Spotting and taking opportunities like this is what I work with my clients to achieve.

Having the right profile to get the connections that generate these opportunities is where it all starts.

Why not book a free profile review call and start to uncover your opportunities. Click on the link below.

Book a review call now

 

 

#HubHelp – the hidden mastermind within your network

Tee concepts of the ‘mastermind group’ and the ‘hot seat’ are far from new.

Napoleon Hill described the mastermind group principle as:

“The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony. No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind [the master mind].” The ‘hot seat’ is the way of giving individual members of the group particular focus.

A typical mastermind group is specifically organised as such by an experienced facilitator or facilitators who are recognised experts in whatever the group’s primary field is. Typically in business, this is about marketing and business building, development and growth. As a result they are often expensive and quite structured. Great if you can afford it.

But if you look at Hill’s definition, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Farnham Hub

One of the business groups I belong to is the Farnham Hub, a group stared back in 2013 by Emma Selby. From the outset, the Hub was always designed to be something more than just another networking meeting. The format is to meet at 9am every Friday for breakfast and yes – networking.

But at 10am the decks are cleared and one of the VIP member’s or a special guest presenter delivers an hour’s presentation-cum-training on their area of expertise. I talked about the secrets of using LinkedIn to grow your business last Friday before the discussion that prompted this blog.

At around 11am we take a quick break, grab a drink and then reconvene to work together in smaller groups discussing how we might implement the day’s topic in our own businesses. We then finish with general discussions on challenges and ideas.

The presentations are all very informative and useful but, as with all knowledge, the value comes from the implementation. The working groups often result in specific action plans for people to go away and get things done in their businesses, and that’s where the real value lies. In effect these group discussions are mini-mastermind sessions and it was in discussing some of these topics along with a challenge of how we could do more to help each other through collaboration, that #HubHelp came about.

The plan is for Hub members to call out topics they need help with in their business by posting #HubHelp and a description of the challenge in our Facebook Group. Based on interaction and feedback from other members a topic will be tabled each week at the regular Hub session and the collective knowledge and experience of the typically 12-20 attendees will focus on resolving the problem.

To paraphrase Spock from Star Trek:

“The brains of the many, solve the needs of the few”

What has this got to do with you?

You may not be a member of The Farnham hub or its sister group The Guildford Hub (but if you live in the area I strongly advise you give the groups a try – the first meeting is free as well), but I bet you belong to one or more other networking groups. They will typically offer the opportunity for you to say what you do, for someone to give a short presentation, a chance to exchange referrals’ and maybe even have 5 minute 1:2:1’s.

But just think about what you have in the room. A diverse range of businesses all with varying degrees of experience, knowledge and contacts. Why not leverage the knowledge in the room with the mastermind concept to help each other solve problems?

A problem shared is often a problem solved. Why not create your own #NetworkHelp sessions in your networking group and harness the power of the collective.

To paraphrase Spock once again, “May your businesses live long and prosper”

Let me know if you decide to give this a try. I’d love to hear how you get on. If you want to come along to either the Farnham or Guildford hub here’s a link: http://businesshubs.org/

Are your business cards letting you down?

Business cards? Who needs them in a digital world? Well anytime you meet someone face to face for the first time, your business cards could be the difference between being remembered and being consigned to the mental trash bin. You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Your business cards can determine if all the effort that went into creating that impression is wasted.

 

Picture the scene:

  • You meet an interesting contact – the ideal prospect for your business.
  • You explain the benefits your clients get from working with you.
  • They seem genuinely interested and ask for your card.
  • You pass them your business card, the flimsy freebie card from WhatsItPrint  (it even has “Produced by WhatsItPrint – call 0800 xxxx xxxx to get your free cards” printed on the back).
  • You go away feeling great about meeting a hot prospect.
  • But you never hear from them again.
  • They ignore your e-mails and never take your calls.
  • Disaster!

Sound familiar? Even if you’ve avoided the temptation to try the freebies, do your business cards really help you to stand out from the crowd?

You see, most businesses don’t go the extra mile. They don’t take the trouble to be different. They have the same old ‘me too’ attitude. They cut corners to save money – hence the freebie business cards. A few pounds saved in the wrong place can mean thousands of pounds lost where it matters most – the revenue line.

 

How to be different

The first rule is don’t copy the rest. Somewhere in your desk or a box file you’ll have the collection of business cards you’ve been given over the last few weeks, months or even years.

Have a sift through them. There will be different colours. Slightly different sizes. But despite teh diffeences, they’re all pretty much the same really.

Most will be packed with details – name, address, phone number, website, e-mail address, fax number, twitter handle etc. So much it might be hard to read because they had to use such a small font.

So do any stand out? Do any have a compelling offer? How many tell you what the card giver does for their clients?

I have many different business cards. Some are for different businesses but some are for different aspects of the same business. Here’s some examples:

 

This is my “standard” project management business card:

Standard PM business card

It has my picture on the front to remind my contact of our conversation. It has one of my lead magnet offers on the back. In fact I have two different “standard” cards, each with a different lead magnet offer. A clear call to action so I can capture their contact details when they sign up for the offer even if I lose or don’t get their business card. And if they pass on my card, the next person will see the call to action as well.

This is my project management business card to get prospects to think carefully about their project management training needs:

6 part PM business card

It gives me the equivalent of six standard 1-sided business cards to get my message across. It includes my picture, clear benefits, an offer of a free video series and a testimonial. It’s different. It stands out.

People remember me because of my business cards. They see me looking back at them from the card. They see the offers of free help and in the case of the 3 part card, an independent testimonial recommending what I do. How do your business cards stack up?

 

More ideas and examples

Need more ideas and examples? The two examples from my project management business show just a few of the ways you can stand out and make a great impression with your business cards. As part of the achieve365 library there’s an implementation plan that goes into detail about the do’s and don’ts of business cards. It also has some more great examples to give you even more ideas to help you stand out.

achieve365 Library

The achieve365 Library comprises over 50 implementation plans, each one covering a different aspect of building and growing your business. From hiring and firing to all the key aspects of social media. From copywriting to knowing your numbers, no corner of the business is left untouched. To find out more, book a call with me and find out how your business can stand out from the crowd. Click the image below to book that call now!

Book an achieve365 introduction call

Building trust in a cynical world

Building trust in a cynical world

The world is becoming a much more cynical place. Trust is much harder to win.

Add to that the exponentially increasing volume of marketing messages that everyone sees day in, day out and it’s no surprise that your marketing e-mails are getting opened less and less often.

Even getting people on to your list is proving harder to achieve. Traditional lead magnets such as ebooks are less effective and you are having to give away more and more stuff to gain a subscriber.

Is it all worth it?

Is there another way?

 

Demonstrating credibility and authority

 

Building trust requires a number of factors:

  • You need to demonstrate your expertise
  • You need other people to sing your praises
  • You need to be there for you clients consistently

Are you trusted?

Only when all three factors are present will you be able to develop trust and build a rapport with your target clients. They need to see that you know your stuff. That other people recognise you for it, and that you will be there when they need you.

 

Getting the word out there

There are a number of ways you can demonstrate your expertise and start to build that trust, but they boil down to two approaches:

  • Speaking
  • Publishing

 

Networking

network headsSpeaking can take a number of forms. The most basic is networking. At most networking groups there are a number of opportunities to talk about what you do for your clients.

Firstly there is the general conversations over coffee, breakfast, lunch or drinks. But don’t be the meeting bore, telling everyone you can grab about how fantastic your business is. That’s sure to make you the most unpopular person ion the room. Instead ask people about their businesses and the problems they are facing. Offer some tips or help. Maybe recommend someone you know that could help with a specific problem.  Become known as the person that helps others solve their problems without selling them anything.

There will be other opportunities to speak about your business at networking meetings. Most groups give everyone a 30 or 60 second slot to talk about their business. Don’t go for the hard sell. Focus on the benefits of working with you and offer something valuable if you can. You are looking to gain trust, not alienate people.

You may get invited to do a 10, 20 or 30 minute slot where you can go into much more detail. Again, make sure you are delivering valuable content to your audience, using stories and case studies too bring what you do to life, and then make a compelling offer to tempt the audience to become customers.

 

Speaking at events

Allen ruddock speaking at a conferenceSpeaking at an event is a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and build trust. Providing it’s the right type of event the audience should be jam-packed with your ideal target clients. The fact that you are the one on stage gives you a natural authority – the event organisers have entrusted you with an element of their reputation and that rubs off in the mind of the audience.

If you are also exhibiting at the event, you have the opportunity to drive traffic towards your stand where you can then capture contact details for follow up conversations. The number and quality of leads always increases if you are speaking at an exhibition.

You may have, or could identify, joint venture partners. Other non-competing businesses that have a similar target audience where you can cross sell each other’s products or services. But even where there is limited opportunity to cross sell, you might be able to find speaking opportunities. I work with a number of professional firms such as accountants and solicitors where I get invited to speak at events they are holding for their clients. By including something on the agenda that’s relevant to the audience but not related to their own services they are delivering value to their clients and may actually get better attendance at the event.

 

Podcasts and interviews

There are many business podcasts and slots on local and internet based radio stations and to charnels. These can be a great way to demonstrate you expert authority to a highly targeted audience. It’s always a good idea to agree the format and general direction of the interview so you can prepare some examples that promote you in the best possible light.

 

Publishing a book

Get yourself publishedPublishing a book is now within the grasp of almost everyone. There are many courses and workshop programmes that you can use to coach you through the process. You can acquire an ISBN number, even for your lead magnet ebooks and become a self-publishing author. You can even get you books converted into Kindle format so there is no need to go to print.

Having a book published, especially if you can go the extra mile and get it on Amazon, adds a huge amount to your credibility. Don’t expect to become a multi-millionaire from it – even the best business books don’t make huge amounts – but it can be a game changer for your credibility.

 

Blogging

For many, the thought of writing and publishing a book is just too daunting. But writing a blog is well within the capability of anyone passionate about what they do. The blog needs to deliver value to the reader and not be an overt sales pitch from start to finish. A clear call to action is an absolute must and it might be appropriate for that to be a sales offer, depending on the subject matter and how often you have made offers previously.

 

Getting the message out there

Getting your message broadcast

Whether you are speaking or writing, you need to get your stuff in front of an audience – your audience. That’s where knowing your target audience and where they hang out becomes important. You need to know as much about your target clients as possible so you can identify them and then use the media channels they use to let them know about your content.

For most business that means social media. You need to know which social media channels you clients use for both business and pleasure. Then you can target them with information about your speaking events, your book or your blogs. Repeatedly engaging with them over a period of time, showcasing a range of content, will start to build your credibility and authority and therefore start to build that all important trust.

 

Getting others to talk about you

What other people say about you builds trust and is 1000 times more powerful than abnything you say yourself

What other people say about you carries a thousand times more weight than anything you say about yourself. So you need recommendations and testimonials and to get other people to re-broadcast your stuff on social media.

Your testimonials can’t be added to your website, to your product or service sales pages and broadcast via social media. All these channels will add to the social proof you need to build your credibility and expert authority. Once established, you won’t need to go looking for clients – they will come to you, because the trust you.

Get a head start – use LinkedIn properly

Whilst other social media channels can broadcast your stuff, including other people’s opinions of you, LinkedIn is the only platform that can do all that but with independent 3rd party recommendations built in as part of the core system.

The various elements within the personal profile provide a powerful basis for you to demonstrate the value you bring to your clients. Written in the right way, your profile can speak to the problems and pains your clients face that you can help remove, or to the hopes and desires you can help them achieve. All reinforced with personal recommendations direct from your clients.Social media strategy

For this reason, LinkedIn should be at the heart of your marketing and social media strategy. I use other social media channels to drive traffic to my LinkedIn profile to demonstrate my credibility and expert authority, and to my website to consume more of my material, gather contact details and make valuable offers.

 

If you’d like to understand how you can harness your LinkedIn profile to drive your business, then book one of my free profile review calls. Numbers are strictly limited so book today by clicking below.

Book a review call now

 

Speak to you soon.

How to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile

There are over 450m user profiles on LinkedIn, many of them small business owners.  The vast majority of those small business owners say they don’t get anything out of LinkedIn. But super-successful small business owners know how to leverage their LinkedIn profile to find, connect and engage with their ideal prospects.

 

It all starts with a powerful personal profile, because LinkedIn is a personal, professional networking site. I have set out below seven of the key areas of your personal profile to focus on:

 

1. Re-structure your LinkedIn profile to deliver value to the reader

You can move most LinkedIn profile sections to create a better presentation of youThere are a lot of sections within the LinkedIn profile, but only the first few are static. You need to re-order the others to gain maximum effect. Think about how you want your prospective readers and clients to see and interact with your profile. LinkedIn’s standard order is targeted at job seekers and is almost certainly not the right order for you as a business owner. Take a look at how I have structured my profile: www.linkedin.com/in/allenruddock

 

 

2. Your profile photo – create a great first impression

Create the right first impression with your LinkedIn profile pictureYou only get one chance to make a great first impression. What is going to make that impression better – a smiling professional head and shoulders shot with you looking onto the camera or the holiday snap of you in full ski-gear on the slopes at St Anton? I think you know the answer, but in case you have any doubts, don’t do what some people do and leave the LinkedIn profile photo blank.

 

 

3. Your headline – 120 characters of pure gold

Headlines matter - make sure yours speaks to what you do, not you job titleHeadlines are important – just ask any newspaper editor. They entice people to read more. But what about you profile headline? When you accept a connection request LinkedIn invariably streams a load of people you may know to the page. Scroll through and look at their headlines. Most will say CEO, Owner at…, MD of… or something very similar. Not very enticing! They are all missing a golden opportunity to tell a prospective client what they could do for that client. This is my headline:

 

★Helping Businesses Increase Sales by making Productive Online Connections ★ LinkedIn Coach & Trainer ★ Business Coach★

It says what I do for people. How does your headline stack up?

 

4. Be contactable – use your contact info like a business card

Don't hide you contact details on your LinkedIn profile - be contactableIs your business card blank apart from your name? Of course it isn’t. So why hide your contact details on LinkedIn. Things like your address and phone number are only visible to your 1st degree connections and those people who have sent you an InMail and you have accepted their request to share information.  Too many people hide their contact details on their LinkedIn profile, or don’t put them on there at all. It’s online networking so make it easy for potential clients to get in touch. One of my most read LinkedIn posts was on this subject. Click on “Don’t play hide & seek with your LinkedIn profile” to read the post.

 

5. Keep your summary succinct and client focussed

Make sure your summary covers the key points succinctlyMany people don’t even bother with a summary section. What a missed opportunity. This is the place to tell your prospects all about the benefits of working with or buying from you. It’s not about you, it’s about what you can do for your clients. Keep it punchy and relevant to the pain you’ll take away or the desire you’ll satisfy.

 

6. Add a company page

Company pages demonstrate you company's expertise, products and servicesA company page gives you the opportunity to showcase your business as a whole and any specific products or services that you want to highlight. You can get each employee to connect their LinkedIn profile to the page to help spread the word to a wider range of connections. Once again, focus on what’s in it for the customer. I hate to see “we”ing all over LinkedIn

 

7. Recommendations and endorsements – get them, and lots of them

Get Recommended for your skills and ex[pertiseWhat somebody else says about you is worth a thousand times more than anything you say about yourself. This is where LinkedIn comes in to its own. It is the only mainstream social media platform with a built in system for people to recommend you. They can’t be faked – the recommender has to do it. That is what makes recommendations specifically, and LinkedIn in general, such a powerful system. Make sure you use them in the right place in you LinkedIn profile to support your expertise. Don’t just leave them in the Recommendations section.

 

Endorsements aEndorsementsre much more widely used but are much less powerful. I get endorsements from connections I have never met or worked with. All they have to do is click to say they endorse you. I think endorsements are useful in a negative sense though. If someone says they are Google Adwords expert but nobody has endorsed them for it, you might question the validity of their claim. However, just because 99 people have endorsed them for it doesn’t mean they are any good. Recommendations are what’s really needed for the social proof.

 

These 7 points are really important but there are plenty of other areas to be considered. Why not download my 12-point LinkedIn profile refresh checklist. It’s a one-page tips sheet covering the above and more. Click the button below to get your copy.

Sing up and download your free 12-point LinkedIn Profile Refresh Checklist
12-point LinkedIn Profile Refresh Checklist

Click here to book a 15 minute LinkedIn profile review with AllenBut if you are serious about getting the most from your LinkedIn profile book a free 15 minute profile review with me. My diary is here. Just click the link and set up a call. Here’s the link again: https://calendly.com/allen-ruddock/15min-profile-review or click on the phone.

 

Make your own luck

Is luck a factor in success when it comes to business?

Somehow I just struggle to believe that it is.

You see there is a saying attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca that goes:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

 

If you look at successful people, whether from the world of sport or business, it’s the preparation that gets them into a position to take opportunities.

 

A couple more quotes:

“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Well, the harder I practice, the luckier I get.”  – Gary Player

In both these quotes it’s the hard work that generates the opportunity.

 

Luck is about attitude and application

Jefferson and Player weren’t successful just because they worked or practiced hard. There are plenty of hard working people that are not super successful.

Yes they had the application to hone their business and sporting skills.

But they also had the right mindset or attitude.

One that was open to possibilities and opportunities.

One that wasn’t restricted by limiting

 

Who you hang around with

Something that can influence your attitude is who you hang around with.

Yet another quote – “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” Jim Rohn.

Successful entrepreneurs tend to hang around with other successful entrepreneurs.

They spark off each other. They learn from each other.

And it can rub off. Observe how they operate. How they spot and then take opportunities.

But you need to be there to see it

To be with them.

The bottom line is that who you hang around with matters.

A lot.

 

Make your own luck

So can you make your own luck in your business?

I think so.

Hone your business skills and set your business up for success.

Network with other smart entrepreneurs and learn from them.

Be open to opportunities.

 

I often hear stories of people that see something successful, but because it’s in a different line of business or other area unrelated to their business that close their mind to how it might work for them.

It’s a bit like the “I know….” attitude I talked about a few weeks back.

They need to open their mind and think “how can I apply that to my business…”

 

I even talked a bit about this last week in my blog post “Making the selling easy“.

That was about working hard to make the right connections.

It was about being open to the possibilities that those connections might throw up.

That’s how I ‘got lucky’ with two LinkedIn connections generating five and half years consulting revenue.

 

Work hard.

Work smart.

Be lucky

 

PS If you’d like to learn how to use LinkedIn to generate your own luck there’s still time to sign up for my next Online Bootcamp now. Just click the link.

Making the selling easy

 

Here’s the secret to me getting 5½ years consulting work….

 

…….LinkedIn.

 

Yes, just two connections on LinkedIn have kept me in consulting work for 5½ years.

 

The first role arose when a connection reached out to a number of her connections looking for people with just my sort of skills. A quick e-mail and less than 48 hours later I was signed up as an associate to a consultancy that kept me at the same client for 4½ years.

 

The second role came about when a former colleague and LinkedIn connection saw one of my blog posts through LinkedIn and asked if I might be interested in a role one of her connections needed to fill. A few conversations later and I was signed up for 6 months in Oslo.

 

I then got poached back by the first client because I built such a good working relationship with them.

 

That’s another 6 months and counting…..

 

All because:

  • I had the right connections
  • I maintained contact
  • My profile demonstrated my credibility

 

Now I talk to a lot of people about using LinkedIn in their business and get a few challenges. They typically fall in to one of three categories:

 

  1. Firstly they think LinkedIn is just an online cv used by people to get new jobs and recruiters to find candidates.

Yes it is used for that a lot

But with over half the world’s professionals on LinkedIn, with job titles and descriptions, it means your ideal prospects are almost certainly on there and are easy to find.

Oh, and when you do find them, their contract details are there too 🙂

 

  1. The second objection I get is that LinkedIn is just to keep in touch with old colleagues.

Yes it gets used for that a lot too.

But if your best clients are on LinkedIn who do you think they are connected to?

That’s right, old colleagues in a similar line of business.

They could be you next ‘best client’

 

  1. The final objection goes along these lines “I’m on LinkedIn but never get any business from it and just get spammed by sales people”.

Well if you treat LinkedIn like a cv or an old boys network, that’s all you’re likely to get.

But if you treat it like the lead generation goldmine that it is you’ll get vastly different results

 

Making the selling easy

I made my consultancy sales easy because:

  • I made the right connections
  • I maintained contact
  • My profile demonstrated my credibility

 

You can make the selling easy for your business too.

 

It’s a three stage process:

  1. Get yourself an awesome personal profile.
    One that delivers real value to the reader and builds your credibility from the off.

 

  1. Find you ideal prospects using a combination of search and self-publicity through publishing and Groups – that way they’ll find you

 

  1. Engage and connect in the right way

 

Employ all the social selling tactics of

  • delivering real value,
  • reciprocity and
  • asking the right questions.

 

Taking these three steps in the right way means your prospects will see the value you give to your clients without you having to sell. They’ll be coming to you asking for your help.

 

If you want to have LinkedIn make your selling easy, sign up for my Online Bootcamp now.

The connected business owner

 

 

I’ve always felt that success should be based on hard work, ingenuity and ability. I came from a working class background and earned the right to go to university and haven’t looked back since. In my corporate days I saw quite a few examples of people getting on because of who they knew and not what they knew or did. There’s a saying – “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Frankly, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

 

Now I’m a business owner and I’m finding a new twist on that old saying – and it’s a good twist.

 

You see, I’m what I would describe as a “connected business owner”. That doesn’t mean I tap in to some “old boys’ network” to get preferential treatment in winning contracts or anything like that. No, it means I’m connected to my clients, to my suppliers, to the communities I operate in and to my peers. Connecting is at the core of my business strategy. It’s not just what I know, it’s also who I know.

 

Why connections are important for you

Client connections – Without a sale there is no client. And the easiest sale is the one that solves a client’s problem or takes away an immediate pain. But if you don’t understand the problem or the pain, how can you take it away. If you connect with your clients and get to know them you will understand their problems, their pains, their desires. Then you will be better placed to serve them and meet their needs.

 

Connecting and understanding makes the selling easy and makes for happy clients. Happy clients are really important because they tell their friends and connections. They offer up referrals and recommendations of your products and services. They also tend to be repeat buyers – after all, why would they go elsewhere?

 

Supplier connections – Many business start out as one-man bands. But as you grow and become successful, that success will be limited by your ability to handle everything. What’s more, you’re probably not best skilled to do everything. Yes, you can save a few pounds by doing your own bookkeeping, but is that the best way to be spending your time? Couldn’t you use those hours more productively finding or servicing more clients. If new clients are worth less than the cost of a bookkeeper, you’re in the wrong business and you should take up bookkeeping.

 

So you need to develop a network of trusted suppliers. People to whom you can hand off  all the things that stop you developing and growing your business. That doesn’t have to mean racking up huge overheads with maintenance and support contracts. It means getting to know the right people that can provide the support you need, at a price you can afford, when you need it. Where do you find such suppliers? That’s from the next group of connections.

 

Network connections – As a business owner, your network of other business owners is critical to you. But it can go wrong if you don’t have the right attitude and approach:

The wrong networking: It can be a lonely life running a business, especially in the early days on your own. Sat in your home office with a laptop and a phone it’s easy to become detached and disheartened. So you go to network meetings. Many business owners hate networking and only do it because they know or have been told they should. They hook up with similar minded people and networking becomes an excuse for a chat and a coffee. No real business is done. No productive connections made.

 

The right networking: Smart business owners remember the Jim Rohn quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. So they make sure they spend their networking time with other smart business owners. People they can learn from. Such groups attract good suppliers (who are business owners themselves) because the suppliers know they will have a ready market of smart business owners that want to outsource all the tasks that distract them from growing and developing their businesses.

 

These networking groups are also about encouragement and accountability. I was at the 100th meeting celebration of one such group recently. One of the long standing members said a few words about why he liked the group. He started his marketing business on his own in an office with an old laptop and a phone. When he first joined the group he told them of the bold plans he was committed to and the group encouraged him and regularly asked how he was getting on. That encouragement and accountability drove him to succeed. Less than two years on he employs eight people and has a six figure turnover.

 

How to keep connected

Unless you only need a small number of clients and suppliers and have a small close-knit group of network connections, it just isn’t possible to stay in touch with everyone face to face all the time – you’d never get any business done if you tried. So how does the smart business owner stay connected? They use all the modern media capabilities at their disposal.

  • Regular e-mail contacts with clients and prospects. Delivering value through blog posts, videos and podcasts
  • Direct mail flyers and newsletters – old fashioned but still hugely effective
  • Regular tweets and Facebook posts of similar content
  • Instagram and Pinterest posts of images
  • Regular posts and updates on LinkedIn – the hidden jewel in the networking crown

 

Why LinkedIn should be at the core of your connection strategy

If you are in a B2B business – selling to other businesses – then  LinkedIn should be at the core of your connection strategy. Even if you are B2C, it should be at the heart of connecting to suppliers and your business network. Why? Because LinkedIn is the professional social media site. Over half the world’s professional have a LinkedIn profile – some 380m worldwide and 18+m in the UK alone. If you have a LinkedIn profile, the chances are that most of the people you need to connect to – clients, suppliers and other entrepreneurs – will have one too.

 

With LinkedIn’s fantastic search capabilities, those connections are easy to find. And if your profile sings the praises of you and your business, and your existing clients echo that through recommendations on the site, the opportunities for you to connect and engage with more ideal clients are unlimited, provided you do it in the right way.

 

If you want your LinkedIn profile to sing your praises and start connecting with your ideal prospects in the right way, sign up for my next online LinkedIn bootcamp. Click the link for more details.

How to connect with your target clients on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the professional online networking site of choice for over half the professional people in the world. There are over 360m users worldwide with 18m+ in the UK alone. If you are in any sort of professional or commercial office based role, you need to be on LinkedIn. And it’s not just the online cv that many people think it is. It is a powerful tool to find and connect with anyone you need to meet in the business world.

You may have heard about the 6 degrees of separation. This is where everyone is connected to everyone else through a maximum of six connections. For example, one of my colleagues has a client, who has a client that makes saddles. Some of the saddles they make are for Prince Charles and he is obviously connected to the Queen. So I am 5 connections away from the Queen! Now with LinkedIn, you are realistically only 3 connections away from any business contact you need to make.

My colleague Andy was challenged by a client to find an English lawyer that spoke Portuguese and was conversant with Portuguese property law. Andy thought it was a wind up but the client had a property in Portugal that he was having some issues with and he desperately needed a bi-lingual lawyer. Within 24 hours Andy had the client talking to a suitable lawyer – all through the power of LinkedIn.

So how do you connect with your target clients on LinkedIn?

Doing the groundwork
First you have to do the groundwork. By that I mean you have to have a powerful personal profile. Why? Well the first thing I do when I get a connection request, or arrange to meet a new business contact, or arrange to interview or be interviewed by someone, is I check them out on LinkedIn. If I did that to you what would I find? I’ve had some surprising experiences:

  • Blank profile pictures
  • Holiday snaps for a profile picture
  • Meaningless job titles and precious little else
  • Then the other extreme of twenty years of detailed role by role experience

You name it, it’s out there on LinkedIn. So do yourself a favour and brush up your profile. Get a professional style head and shoulders picture of yourself on there. Present yourself as you would if you were walking in to a business meeting with a contact. Do yourself justice!

***TIP*** Get my free guide The 9 Key Points to creating a Powerful Personal Profile

Crafting the cold connection message
I had one connection message from someone I followed on Twitter that said something along the lines of “I build and manage for you powerful sales teams! What’s your email, I’ll send a proposal!”. Would you walk in to a networking meeting and say that as your first sentences to someone? Of course not, so why do it online. But I see people do this time after time with their first message to me on LinkedIn.

You need to build a rapport and demonstrate value to your connections. If you identify someone you want to connect with and potentially do business with you need to find some common round to start a relationship on. Maybe you are both members of a LinkedIn Group or you have both commented on someone’s post. Maybe you have a shared interest. Find a way to make a connection, but never, never sell. Not even a hint of it.

Once connected, keep the conversation going. Share comments, or articles you think they may find useful. If you have some material you can give them that would be helpful then do that (like my 9 Points guide….). Keep developing the relationship and gradually you can move towards a more sales oriented conversation. Yes it takes time, but people like to buy from people they at least think or feel they know. The stranger shouting buy this – no matter how good this is – wont get a look in.

Where to find your target connections? That’s a topic for a future blogpost.

Don’t play hide and seek with your LinkedIn profile

The girl spies through a hole in a paper.Lots of people hate networking. I’m one of them. The thought of entering a room full of strangers and starting conversations fills me with dread. But I do it for three reasons. Firstly, I need to meet new people that could be potential clients. Secondly, most people I meet want to talk about what I do – helping people get more out of LinkedIn. And thirdly, I know most of the people in the room hate networking just as much as me but think they are the only one. But even the most terrified of networkers doesn’t enter the room and hide.

Online networking

LinkedIn is online networking for professionals. It is the place to find and be found by the very people you need to speak to to grow your business, increase sales, find suppliers, build partnerships and alliances or develop your career. So why oh why do so many people hide themselves with their profile. Why do they put the scantest of details about themselves in their profile? Why do they hide much of their profile from public view?

Some people have said to me they only want to connect with people they have physically met. I don’t really get that. The whole point of being online is to broaden your horizons and open up opportunities. If there is a select group of connections you only want to share your most important stuff with then create a private group and invite them in. But be open to connecting with people that want to connect. It could lead to great things.

I have two groups of people that typically connect with me – those interested in project management and those interested in small business marketing in general and LinkedIn in particular. By inviting and accepting invites from people in both communities I have opened up business opportunities, reconnected with former colleagues and developed new friends in far flung places I could never hope to have met in the physical world alone. That has created a network for sharing, giving and receiving feedback, and developing business.

Checking out prospective connections

I’m continually updating my LinkedIn profile to attract new connections. And when I get a new connection request the first thing I do is look at their profile. Is this someone I should connect with? I almost always message new connections and typically I’m looking to find out why they wanted to connect. Then I ask how I can help them. I’m looking to engage and start a dialogue. The thing I definitely am not doing is selling. I look to identify ways I can help people.

My own profile is designed to make me interesting to other people. So if I find someone I want to connect with and send them a connection request, they can see from my profile who I am, what I do and the value I can add to their network. I’m encouraging them to connect.

Dealing with Cranks
Yes I get some cranky connections. I’ve had my share of African scammers wanting my bank details to ‘help’ them get funds out of their country. I simply dlete them or report them and get their profiles blocked. Most are easy to spot as the profiles have very little detail or have jobs that make them highly unlikely connections for me. For example, I had one request purporting to be from a Nato general. It had the correct photograph, but it had been taken off the internet. So always check out requests from people you haven’t met but keep an open mind to who you can connect with.

LinkedIn webinar bootcamp webinar screenIf you’d like to spruce up your LinkedIn profile and get yourself found by more of the right connections download my free guide “The 9 Key Points to Creating a Powerful Personal Profile“. Alternatively, sign up for my 3 part online bootcamp by clicking here or on the screen below.