Build A High Quality Lead-Oriented Network

When it comes to building up a solid book of business contacts online, quality beats quantity every time.

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When it comes to building up a solid book of business contacts online, quality beats quantity every time.


Build A High Quality Lead-Oriented Network

When it comes to building up a solid book of business contacts online, quality beats quantity every time.

Share this article

In the first part of this series, I talked about how you can convert your professional social media profile from “job seeker” to “high-quality lead generator” with a few simple changes to how you represent yourself on professional social networks like LinkedIn.

An optimised LinkedIn profile is a high-impact first step. It will ensure that you tell a customer-focused, benefits-oriented story about yourself when prospective customers come looking for you. But it won’t guarantee that the right customers and prospects will find you, or that they’ll contact you as they search for your products or services.

A strong social selling profile is a powerful tool, but you’ve got to put it to work to take advantage of the shift from outbound to inbound lead generation that social and mobile are affecting. Using your new improved LinkedIn profile as a springboard, it’s time to use to build a high-quality lead-oriented network and then move to become a source of perpetual value to it.

Building the right network

Just as with real-world offline network building, there are effective ways to establish and build relationships, and there are those methods that don’t work, or are counter-productive.

You wouldn’t go to an industry event and walk around interrupting random participants to hand out a business card and move on, would you? Yet what’s you’re doing if you’re indiscriminately adding people you happen upon on LinkedIn with the generic “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

japanese business men

"Who's this guy?"

If you’ve been on LinkedIn for a while, it’s possible you’ve already got a large network, maybe even 500+ connections.

For many people, this will be a combination of colleagues, friends, clients, prospects, peers, recruiters, people met at conferences and even unknowns who for some reason reached out to connect with you despite having no discernible professional connection.

While there’s nothing wrong with a large diverse network, if you want to use LinkedIn to sell, you’ll need a more deliberate focus on whom you connect with, and how.

When trying to bring new prospective customers/clients into your network always have a “why”, and always avoid the generic “I’d like to add you…” when you’re inviting new contacts. Had a good chat with someone at a conference? “Great meeting you today, I’d like to link in and continue our discussion.”

Spotted some content online from someone who looks like a prospect? “I enjoyed your piece [refer to specific topic and content], I’d like to touch base to discuss further.”

Paul English is a partner at marketing consultancy Prophet

Click the link for his profile and more great articles

In the offline world we’re accustomed to personalised sales approaches, because we know they work better. The same principle applies to online, perhaps even more so due to the proliferation of random, untargeted sales messages with which we’re all to familiar.

Remember, you get no extra points for the sheer volume of your connections. Give me ten qualified leads I can engage over 1,000 random connections, any day.

Provide value throughout the lifecycle

As we discussed last time, 72% of today’s buyers use social media to research before making a purchase, and decision-makers consume up to five pieces of content before speaking to a sales rep. If you’re not behind one of those five pieces of content, be sure that someone else is.

Not being visible in social media during the sales process means you’re missing out on highly qualified inbound leads, while your more social-business savvy competitors may be eating your lunch by harvesting these opportunities.

lunch and desk

Is someone else eating your lunch for you?

Advertising for a long time was the key way to get the attention of people who were interested in your product or service categories, and that was always an inexact and expensive exercise, aimed at “filling the top of the funnel.” The advent of digital advertising has made targeting a lot more accurate – data-driven social networks even more so – but advertising is still expensive.

What if you didn’t need to worry about paying for advertising at all? What if people reached out to you for advice just because they’ve read your content and consider you an expert in their categories? It’s not too good to be true – the essence of social selling is creating the kind of online value exchange that keeps you organically top of mind when your customers and prospects are in the market.

Become a known expert

The larger online presence – original posts, reposts, participation in online discussions, the more famous you’ll become. Define what you’ll be known for. This can be product or service specific, or even focus on whole categories and sectors. Start making your presence known.

Think of a mix of original articles, sharing other posts, and participating in online discussions around your selected topics. Find your special interest LinkedIn groups, and begin participating. If you’re feeling adventurous, start your own group and lead the conversation.

After a while you’ll find that more people begin to visit your LinkedIn profile – the one that you’ve optimised exactly for that purpose. From there, you’ll see an increase in inbound connections, discussions and leads.

Whether you’re spending a lot of time and effort writing articles or participating in professional network discussions, social selling takes time and effort.  Start with a cadence you’re comfortable with and that you can commit to for a period of time. Once you see the results, you’ll be able to determine whether increasing the level of effort is worth it or not.

Despite what the gurus may say, there is no mysticism involved in becoming a high-performing social seller. It’s all about the combination of high-value, well qualified contacts and a strategy to stay on their radar throughout the sales cycle.

The more you appear as a source of value during the early stages of your audiences’ purchase journey’s the more likely they are to recognise you, find you and buy from you when the time is right for them.

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Build A High Quality Lead-Oriented Network

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