Hiromi Ishikawa is a Digital Demand Executive for SAP. Based in Japan, she has a sizeable following on LinkedIn – around 7,000 connections – and posts regularly in two languages. We asked her what advice and tips she could share for effective Social Selling.
Hiromi’s Social Selling advice starts with her LinkedIn profile. She works hard to enrich this, using a combination of videos, images and weblinks. Paying a good deal of attention to creating a detailed LinkedIn summary because, she says, “…her profile gives people a thorough overview of who I am.”
Becoming Inbound on Social Media
Hiromi has taken to joining lots of groups as part of her Social Selling outreach and is actively involved in their discussions. She credits this activity, alongside her posts, with generating many incoming invitations to connect. From these invites, she accepts around a quarter, as long as they are from bona-fide account holders.
We asked her whether she found there was a tipping point at which her network took on this life of its own.
“I think around 2,000 connections was the tipping point. The whole process of engaging and linking with people is so much quicker for me now because of the number of inbound requests I receive.
Wider Vs Local Network Appeal
There’s another, less common, reason why Hiromi has such success on LinkedIn: she posts everything in both English and Japanese. She’s certain this leads to greater visibility although English is often the language of choice even in Japan. Her comments are always in English but, because she feels that language is very important to making people feel closer to you, she continues to engage in this way.
“It’s very different, culturally, to write posts in Japanese and English”, explains Hiromi, “the English style is very short, direct and to the point whereas the Japanese way is to include formalities and greetings every time.”
She also uses slightly different content for different audiences. In Japan, for example, the sense of a global network is not as strong. This point is borne out by the incredible fact that only 2% of the Japanese population uses LinkedIn, with Facebook being the platform of choice for business networking.
Be Visual to Be Relevant
This makes Hiromi’s incredible LinkedIn network even more impressive. We asked her to tell us how she allocates her time to nurturing her contacts.
“I post once or twice a day,” says Hiromi, “because it’s a much more efficient way of networking than cold calling. Using LinkedIn has changed how I engage with new contacts because I can now spend one or two days preparing the content and reaching out in a more personalised way to each person, although I do have templates which speed that process up.”
Hiromi posts most of her content using her phone and her focus, interestingly, is on quantity and quality in equal measures. She keeps a close eye on maintaining her frequency of posts and what she posts varies:
“The more content you post, the greater your credibility, but the message has to be relevant. I don’t try to post super cool content, just something to stay engaged, stay front of mind”, she explains. “I use the internal email we receive from our CEO for ideas and I also post lots of photos.”
Hiromi has her own style when it comes to using images on her feed: she uses apps which enable her to edit the photos by writing comments or circling key elements. “Images keep your content ‘in the moment’,” says Hiromi, “and they’re popular. Mine get ten times the amount of views than any written content.”
“I’m also a member of the GB Sales Digital Selling Professional Board. It’s made up of global members and we speak fortnightly to discuss new tools and share best practice related to Social Selling. Each call has two speakers who talk about activities in their country. It really helps with inspiration for content that will work with different cultures and audiences.”
Hiromi experiences tangible results from her online networking as well.
“I travel a lot with work”, she explains, “and I find that, when I meet someone for the first time, we’re already a few steps down the relationship journey. People will want to meet me if I am due to visit their country and I think this is because social media lets you build a really rich picture of yourself“.
A more personal approach to social media also leads to increasing business results and improving relationships with clients and partners. “I create 80% of opportunities by using SNS (Social Networking Site). I also got thousands of CXO connections on SNS and met those who are in my account list. The videos I made to introduce people at SAP got over a thousand views, and it made our customers feel very close to us. You can get to know people you’ve never met.”
What’s next for Hiromi?
“Well, I also speak Chinese, and LinkedIn’s popularity in China is growing so I wouldn’t rule out creating a Chinese profile too. Moreover, I also want to involve more and more people for my posts. I want to make the most out of my connections and bring more values to my customers.”