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Social Selling Using LinkedIn

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Social selling has become an integral part of the sales and business development landscape. It presents an opportunity for you to eliminate cold calling – the most soul sucking activity in sales – from your business development function. How are you at social selling?

To my mind, LinkedIn is the strongest social selling tool currently out there for business-to-business sales people. This is because business people join LinkedIn for the purpose of being connected to other ethical and like-minded business people like you.

The big challenge with cold calling is that a huge trust gap exists. People you cold call don't know you, and therefore don't trust that investing time with you is worthwhile. Thus, they don't take your call.

With LinkedIn, rather than cold calling a prospect you can ask to be connected to them by someone you mutually know and trust. If that person in the middle says you are worth connecting with, then the trust gap is bridged and the prospect has a higher likelihood of saying yes to your request to connect.

In order for prospecting via LinkedIn to be effective you need to have as many first-degree connections as possible. This in turn increases the number of second-degree connections you have - which increases the likelihood that someone you are connected to currently knows someone who you would like to connect with for business development purposes. [In my experience, third-degree connections are very weak and are hard to convert into introductions/first-degree connections.]

Increasing your connection base is not hard. It is astounding how many people you interact with over the years. A few years ago I followed a system to increase the amount of quality first-degree connections [people I know on a first name basis]. I have tripled the number of those connections over the span of a few months.

The positive business result of doing this is that I found I now have over 500 second-degree connections to business owners and CEOs at companies of the type that fit my ideal customer profile. This is a great pool of prospects for me.

Here is the process to follow to beef up the number of quality connections you have on LinkedIn…

Start by scheduling an appointment with yourself to spend 10 minutes each day to focus on building your LinkedIn network. During this 10 minute block of time…

  1. Look back at the previous work day. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone with whom you interacted? If not, send them a connection request. 
  2. Look at your current customer base. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone within that account that you interact with or have interacted with? If not, send those people a connection request.
  3. Look at your current suppliers. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interact with or have interacted with? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  4. Look at your current friends and family. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interact with? If not, send those people a connection request.
  5. Look back at your previous job roles and other companies you have worked for. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with regularly? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  6. Look back at your post-secondary education. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with on a regular basis? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  7. Look back at your high school days. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with on a regular basis? If not, send those people a connection request.

I suggest 10 minutes a day on this activity so you can tackle it in small chunks. If you simply want to spend one hour a week – you can do that too.

If you have not previously taken the approach outlined above, my guess is that you can increase your number of quality first-degree connections [people you know on a first name basis] by 30% easily.

Start building your LinkedIn network immediately. Track your progress week to week to see if you're getting traction.

In a follow-up blog post I'll talk about how to ask your first-degree connections to introduce you to prospects you would like to get connected with.


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