One of the thing we teach in our Social Selling programs is to create a network, rather than having a bunch of contacts.
What’s the difference?
Adam and I talk about when we first set up Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) and we met somebody who boasted he had the maximum number of contacts that LinkedIn allows which is 30,000. He was out of work!
These connection requests you get with no note or context are pretty useless. Your network is something you should be able to lever as part of your proactive prospecting activities.
Where do you start?
Start with your friends, your ex colleagues, your colleagues, your partners, your customers and also your prospects. Send a polite request to connect (how you do this is detailed in other blogs). The critical thing is not to sell!
This is about getting a meeting, that is the time to sell. If you try and sell at this point people will push you away!
Let me explain, nobody gets up in the morning and says “the first thing I need to do is talk to a salesperson”. Nobody has time to listen to your sales message! At this stage is about building a network, not selling.
One of the big mistakes that the cold calling gurus miss is they think that somehow social selling invalidates your selling skills. Not at all! Once you get to a meeting, you can do what you like. This is about getting you more leads and meetings.
How Is a Network Built
Your network should not be seen as an address book, but as a living and thriving “being”. There will be your mates, life long partners who love you. Your colleagues and x colleagues who respect you. Those people you can call up and say I’m downstairs in reception (the lobby) can we have a coffee and they will clear their desk and met you.
This part of your network is critical as they will propagate and distribute your content. You need to think how about you will get that as big as possible. A blog for another day.
When you have built a get foundation network then you can really start prospecting. We always get asked how many people is a good foundation network and of course that depends on industry etc, but certainly 500 plus. A good foundation network is certainly 1,000 to 2,000 people.
In a previous blog we talked about the 9-1-1 rule which is connecting with 9 “rank and file” people before you go for the “hero” contact. This is mainly because “hero” people probably don’t use LinkedIn as much and you have just one chance at making a good impression. How you do this is part of another blog.
The final 1 is to find somebody outside of the organisation who is an influencer. For example , Accenture, KPMG, Gartner. In the Holden Sales Methodology they have a buyer role which is the “usher”. This person could pull you into an opportunity because of your market position, they see you as an expert.
Also often you find that there are people outside of the organisation that provide influence. Dave In IT who left and works for the competition may provide advice and guidance.
Also influencers like Brian Solis, Ted Rubin or even people here at DLA are often asked for their opinion on the market.
If we go back to the title of this blog “Why Your Objective is to Get Overlapping Networks with Your Prospects” when your hero contact gets your connection request (part of another blog) they will look you up. The first thing they will do is check you out. By now you will look like an expert. A great personal brand, you will have written articles, they will also see you have many mutual contacts.
You will know his or her direct reports, his or her advisers, his or her suppliers and partner. The acceptance should be a no brainier.
The trick then is to do this right across your territory. We have one client that has got permission from management to “invest” in doing this right across the territory for two reasons.
- By doing this on a programmic basis is actually turning up enough deals (they have just signed the biggest deal ever in the company history) which is good, but
- They are planning a “d day” where they will pull the rug from under the competition.
If you are interested in any of the advice we offer in this blog, contact me on social.
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