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We took a break yesterday from this theme of ways to use LinkedIn.  Now, it’s back to work!  ‘-)

An Example Worth Noting
The other day I mentioned that sharing your expertise on LinkedIn, by answering questions posed by other members, helps your VCR (visibility, credibility and reputation).  While looking at some questions on ‘marketing’ (my area — you look in yours!) I found a truly ‘killer’ response to a question on whether management consulting and internet marketing were mutually exclusive or, not.

In fact, I liked his answer so much that I ‘tracked down’ the person who posted it — a Carl Diamond who owns Diamond Website Conversion — a firm from the Seattle, WA area:

I then sent him a short note of appreciation acknowledging the superb quality of his answer.  Well, before the day was over, Carl had replied to me and we had become part of each other’s LinkedIn network.  More importantly, the foundation was laid for a possible future collaboration between us.

Will that ever happen?  Who knows.  But I do know this — if we never connected, the chance for something coming from this day would have been 0% — GUARANTEED!

KEY POINT:
Social networking is about planting seeds of opportunity . . . then nurturing those opportunities until they blossom! 

OK. LinkedIn is a great online venue for generating business opportunities.  Potentially.  But to realize the benefits of this powerful professional networking site, you need to use it.  Here are some ideas:

LinkedIn Answers
One of the ways you can get noticed very quickly by a significant and diverse group of people on LinkedIn is to simply answer questions other members are posting in hopes of finding good answers.  Merely answering questions in your area of expertise gives you great visibility to many LinkedIn members.

If your answer is chosen as ‘best’, that gives you some bragging rights on LinkedIn.  In fact, LinkedIn will post that on your profile for you.  Free PR!  it never hurts!  Also, whether you ‘win’ or not, if someone else likes your answer, they may check out your profile and then reach out to you directly.  Yes, it does happen!

LinkedIn Search
You have a lot of options here. One is to use LinkedIn’s ‘search’ function (upper right screen) to find a business you’re interested in.  Assuming the firm’s name pops up, click on it.  You’ll then see anyone you are already connected to as well as people in the business you may want to know better.  Now, generating some powerful and personal connections should be relatively easy for you to do.

More to come tomorrow!

 

Regardless which approach you choose to use (and BOTH is a very good option!) there’s one thing you must be sure to do or neither approach is likely to be productive.

The King and I
Yul Brenner, the iconic actor, was renowned for portraying the Kind of Siam in Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic musical, “The King and I”.  One of the songs in that play was, “Getting To Know You”. The lyrics are: “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you . . .”.  It’s a good idea to do this on LinkedIn, too.

It’s Not About You
Social media in general and LinkedIn in particular are not about marketing that interrupts other people.  You want to ‘blend in’ to join in with the LinkedIn member community.

Take the time to really understand who you may want to approach — directly or indirectly.  Study their profile.  View their connections to other people and groups on LinkedIn.  Learn what you both have in common.  Engage with people based on what’s interesting to them. You’ll be far more interesting to them as well.   And do this all before you ever approach anyone on LinkedIn for an overt business purpose.

KEY POINT:
Getting to know LinkedIn members before you approach them is smart!

With all the talk about using social media to promote your business, it seems like as good a time as any to look at how some people are using LinkedIn for just this purpose.

Two Options
If you’re going to use LinkedIn to promote business for you, you can connect with prospective clients and centers-of-influence directly or indirectly.

The former means using the ‘search’ function of LinkedIn to help you identify other LinkedIn members whose profiles suggest people who might find your services or expertise to be of interest.  You’ll also want to check out which LinkedIn groups their profiles show they belong to — because water (and, prospects) have a magical way of finding and connecting with their own kind.

The latter means using the many opportunities LinkedIn offers to help you make others aware of you and your expertise.  Typically, this means you’ll be using various ways of connecting with other members that are less direct.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at a few of the more popular and effective ways you can use LinkedIn to promote awareness of and attract response to you as well.

KEY POINT:
LinkedIn is where you can find business opportunities and be found by them as well

Lately, graphic information (not the “Oh no, I did NOT need to know THAT!” kind) has been prolific.  Whether it’s the state of your equity assets or the rate of (un)employment, there’s definitely no shortage of information about what’s happening in the world, is there?

The Heisenberg Effect
Werner Heisenberg won a Nobel Prize for his work in physics.  The ‘Heisenberg Effect’ got its name from his experiments that revealed the fact that observing an event changes the event.  Heisenberg observed the velocity and movement of sub-atomic particles.  If he focused on a particle’s velocity, its movement changed and vice versa.

Tracking Your Behavior . . . Changes Your Results 
In your daily life, Heisenberg’s effect is operating, too.  The action of tracking your behavior makes you more aware of it and, somehow, it affects your performance.  Athletes keep score not only to know who won the round or game but because it drives them to improve.

Behavioral Goals . . . Matter
Goals reflect either 1) a consequence or 2) a contributing factor.  “Make $1.2MM in gross revenues” is a consequence . . . of doing many things correctly before that becomes a reality. “Develop visibility and credibility with CEO’s in our target market” is a contributing factor. The former reflects a meaningful achievement.  The latter is what will cause it to happen.

KEY POINT:
Keep Score . . . tracking your contributing factors leads to successful consequences! 

In the short time human beings have been on the planet, we started out as ‘hunter-gatherers’ who had to stalk and kill prey to eat to ‘farmers’ who learned to cultivate the land for our food.
Moving from ‘hunting’ to ‘farming’ was a huge step in the growth of civilization.  OK, the ‘thrill of the kill’ may have been lost, but the fact is farmers tend to eat more regularly and predictably.

Farming . . . Leads To Predictable Productivity
Farmers know that planting in the spring means they’ll have a harvest in the fall.  Sure, there’s some risk — like drought, insects, etc. — but overall, “input => output” in farming with a fairly high degree of probability.

Business . . . Has Reverted
In the world of small business, many firms seem to prefer ‘hunting’ rather than ‘farming’.  The problem is that hunting is a ‘hit or miss’ proposition. Cultivating opportunities . . . is not.  But it requires a strategic perspective, not a tactical one.  Not easy to find these days.

You Do Have a Choice
Assuming you’re aware of these two options, which one are you choosing — farming or hunting?  If increasing the predictability of generating everything you need to ‘go to the bank’ — leads, referrals, opportunities and (lest we forget!) revenues . . . is important to you . . . why would you not want to be a farmer of your business?

KEY POINT:
Be a farmer . . . cultivate relationships for the referrals and revenues they offer! 


There’s a real shift in the way marketing is being done in 2011.

Outbound Marketing = ‘Old School’
Some marketers advocate what is called “Interruption” marketing — because your marketing messages are interrupting the attention of people who may (rebuttable presumption!!) be interested in hearing about you and your products and services.

Inbound Marketing = ‘New School’
In contrast, thanks to the proliferation of online social media — not just social networking sites — it’s very possible to engage with people on a topic and at a time when they’re interested in what you do or could do . . . for them — i.e. ‘NO Interruptions!”

Which Is Better?
Both kinds of marketing have their place.  Like life, few things are pure black or pure white.

Outbound marketing . . . cold calling, direct mailings, advertising on mass media, etc. are still valid for many businesses.  But, the shift is underway in how big a role and how much of a value the ‘Old School’ ways may be for companies like yours in the future.

Inbound marketing . . . using your blog with relevant and quality content to attract interested ‘eyeballs’ to your site, offering whitepapers, videos, etc. to motivate visitors to identify themselves to you and give you permission to cultivate a relationship with them, over time, until they are ready to make a buying decision . . . is growing in stature, importance, value and acceptance.

KEY POINT:
The world of marketing is changing . . . and the digital world is the ‘sandbox’ you want to be playing in! 

Think of ‘Sticky Notes’ and you probably think of the “3 M” corporation where that office staple was first invented.  But today’s post is not about yellow notepads.  Instead, the 3 M’s of this post serve as reminders of what is truly a basic and highly effective marketing formula . . .

M . . . Market 
Effective marketing requires that you know who you’re seeking and who, in this day and age of social media, might be seeking you!  More marketing is flawed from the beginning because there’s no clarity about WHO you’re seeking to attract — at least at first.

M . . . Message 
Regardless of the medium you use, effective communication always involves a message that resonates with the market member you’re seeking to attract.  Generally, this means speaking more about the issues that concern your prospect and less about the features and benefits of your service.

M . . . Movement
Assuming your message captures the attention — and interest — of the person/s you’re seeking to attract to you, you must invite ACTION!  In fact, it’s called a ‘Call To Action’ for just that reason. This means an offer of some kind.  And in the case of a service, your best offer involves useful information in exchange for someone’s permission to begin a cultivating conversation so you can become the ‘preferred provider’ you want to be.

KEY POINT:
Marketing can be complex or simple.  Just remember the “3M” approach and you’ll keep it simple and . . . highly effective, too.

 

Hawks . . .  Attacks . . . and Lead Conversion
I live in the country.  Deer, fox and other critters are frequent visitors on our property.  We also have a family of red-tailed hawks who patrol regularly — mostly in search of a quick meal due to our abundant supply of field mice.  The hawks are amazing.  Graceful.  Powerful.  Skilled aviators.  Deadly hunters.  I first see them flying in slow circles over our property.  Suddenly they swoop down to catch a hapless mouse and be off again before you know anything happened.

Hawks Not (Always!) Needed
Recently, my wife and I were seeking to buy some new furniture.  We visited a couple of stores.  But we didn’t buy.  The salespeople would ‘hover’ over us — like hawks seeking a snack — and it didn’t go over well with my wife.  She was a ‘looker’, not a ‘cooker’ . . . i.e. someone who was ready to buy.

In the end, we did find a furniture store that had a ‘no hawks’ policy.  We dropped a lot of money within 10 minutes of arriving there.  Why?  They didn’t hover and they didn’t go for the kill.  They sized us up and acted . . . appropriately.

Don’t Treat Prospects Alike
In marketing — and selling — it’s important to learn what someone wants from you and how they want it.  You can’t treat all prospects alike because, well . . . they’re not all alike!  Some are ready to buy today.  Some are not.  You must discern which is which and act accordingly.

KEY POINT:
Don’t treat all prospects alike — treat them appropriately  

CONVERSION
Once your activity with social media attracts people to you . . . via your blog posts, your tweets, facebook fan page updates, etc. one of your goals must be to convert them from an unknown visitor into a recognized person or fan.  Why?  Because if you don’t learn who cares to engage in a conversation with you, it’s going to be difficult for you to sustain an ongoing connection, isn’t it?

Also, unless someone reveals who they are to you, they also aren’t giving you permission to engage with them.  If nothing else, remember this . . . “Permission = Attention”.  If someone isn’t telling you who they are, they aren’t likely to sustain their attention on what you’re saying online.  You need something to do this . . . it’s called an OFFER OF VALUE . . . and valued CONTENT (e.g. a ‘whitepaper’) works great for doing this!

COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS
Call them fans or followers, the real value of social media is the creation and maintenance of a community of people who care to hear what you’re saying online and who (presumably) care about what you do in your business.

Finding and keeping a group of engaged fans . . . via facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social media is an effective way to market your business and an efficient way to grow it, too.  Why?  As your follower or fan-base grows, you’re being exposed to their network connections too.  If you have 1,000 fans on facebook and each averages 50 fans of their own, you’re being exposed to 50,000 people — with each post and a simple click of your mouse.  That . . . is why your community is such a valuable asset.

KEY POINT:
Learning who ‘knows’ and ‘likes’ you and then building a relationship of ‘trust’ with them . . . is truly priceless marketing!