This is the second in a four-part series about the 4 C’s of Social Selling. In the last blog I discussed the importance of content when it comes to a successful Social (Digital) Selling program including where teams go wrong and how organisations can fix it. This blog focuses on the next step – Connections. When it comes to LinkedIn, how do you move from Content to creating Connections?
When training sales teams, I’m often asked several questions about connecting and networking, including:
- How many connections should I be aiming for?
- Should I accept everyone into my network?
- What do you think about automation tools that link to my LinkedIn account?
- When should I accept and ignore LinkedIn connections?
- Should I personalise invitations?
- When is it a good time to reach out?
If there’s one thing Social Sellers need to learn fast on LinkedIn, it’s networking etiquette. How you behave online shouldn’t be different to how you would behave at a live event.
You wouldn’t walk into a room and shout an introduction to reach as many people as possible. You talk to individuals, listening and reciprocating in conversation. LinkedIn is no different.
Here are some common mistakes that sales teams make when it comes to Connections.
- They don’t personalise connection requests
- They don’t do their research before reaching out to a contact
- They rely too heavily on automation tools to do the heavy lifting
- They connect and then pitch a product
- They pitch their product in the invitation request!
- They focus too much on number of connections over quality of connections
- They don't know the person they're trying to connect with
Building a network of quality connections is a core strength of a good Social Seller. It’s a major milestone on the Social Selling journey because once prospects are in your network, you can begin nurturing them with content. They may not convert (another C that we’ll cover later) straight away but you can digitally nurture them at scale until they are ready to talk to you.
How Do Social Sellers Move From Content To Connections?
There are many techniques that Social Sellers can use to create connections – it’s all about noticing the digital indicators. Those little actions that can lead to a connection and ultimately open a conversation (more about that in the next blog!).
Social Sellers need to understand the close relationship between content and connections. Content creates engagements and these provide an opportunity to outreach and turn into a connection. Here are some indicator examples that you should be keeping an eye on:
Who’s Engaging With Your Content?
I always advocate that it’s better to share less content, in terms of volume, and spend more time analysing the impact and performance of that content. Who’s liking it? Who’s commenting on it? Are you replying to those comments and inviting people to connect? Redirect your time and invest it on the little actions that count rather than tons of time sourcing and sharing lots of content.
Who’s Engaging With Your Competitors’ Content?
It’s always worth monitoring what your competition are up to. If you have LinkedIn Sales Navigator you can create a specific search and lead list of roles within competitive companies.
What are they sharing? Who are they tagging? Who are they engaging with?
This kind of research can not only surface prospects they might be talking to (including engagements into your customer accounts) but also keeps you up to date with the content they're reading. It can tell you a lot about the messaging and direction the business is taking.
Have Your Prospects Created Content?
A really good way to get on someone’s radar is to reference an event they presented at, a video interview they appeared in or a blog that they wrote (if recent).
Re-sharing this content with a perspective on why you found it interesting provides a great opportunity for you to tag them (on LinkedIn and Twitter). Once tagged, it invites that person to the conversation and often they will contribute.
This then opens the opportunity for you to send that invitation request.
What Content Are Your Customers And Prospects Reading?
Walk in the shoes of your customers. Where are they sourcing their content? Which publications are they reading? If your goal is to become a trusted advisor to your customers, you need to understand where they’re hanging out. Integrating content from those sources into your own strategy will make you more relevant and even broaden your knowledge.
Which Hashtags Are Your Customers And Prospects Using?
If you integrate hashtags into the content you post, you will reach audiences beyond your first-degree network but don’t randomly create your own hashtags or guess which ones might work. Do your research. Look at the ones your customers are using – it’s quite likely they’re following those hashtags. Remember to only use ones that relate to the content you’re sharing.
Who’s Viewed Your Profile?
The easiest way to onboard new connections is to check out “Who’s viewed your profile” on LinkedIn. If you’ve been tagging your content correctly and using hashtags, the engagement your content receives will trickle out to wider networks. People who don’t yet know you.
If you see more 2nd and 3rd connections viewing your profile, it’s a strong indicator that you’re heading in the right direction. It’s also a good opportunity to invite people into your network. They know who you are so consider sending an invitation to connect but remember to personalise and only send to those that you feel are relevant to your network.
So, as you can see there are lots of opportunities to turn content into connections on social media. It’s less about sharing lots of content all the time but utilising content in a much more strategic way – understanding what kind of content your audience engages with and to use it as a way to reach new audiences.
In the next blog I’ll be talking about how connections can turn into conversations. It’s one of the trickiest and most mis-understood part of Social Selling. Too often, people connect and pitch (or “show up and throw up” as the wonderful Jill Rowley explains). But when do you reach out for a conversation? How can you turn connections into conversations? I’ll tell you how next time.