Let's assume you know whom you want to work with, but you just don't move in their circles. How can you make yourself known without cold-calling (or risking rejection)?
Simple. Try networking and nurturing a relationship with social media. This article will help you prospect using the power of LinkedIn and Twitter (together).
#1: Get Your House in Order First
First, you need to do some housekeeping before you put yourself forward, and by that I mean clean up your LinkedIn profile. Take a good hard look at it and ask yourself the following:
- Does my professional headline say exactly what I do, does it contain key search terms, is it a little bit creative and does it make use of the full 120 characters?
- Have I made use of the three free hot links to different pages of my site or sites?
- Does my summary fully convey what I do, why a prospect should use me, and what my point of difference is?
- Do I include some great recommendations from my clients?
When you tweet these four areas, you stand out from the crowd a little. The summary is the most important part of your profile after your recommendations, so take the time to get it right.
Don't be tempted to write it in the third person; write it as yourself. After all, people want to find out more about you, which is why your prospects are using LinkedIn for intelligence and looking at your profile.
Go Over to Twitter
Now hop over to your Twitter page and make sure that the information in your profile has a similar message. It is OK to add a bit more personal stuff to your Twitter page as it is a little more social than LinkedIn, but if you want to network for business, you probably want to keep it mostly professional.
There's more great information on Twitter here and LinkedIn here.
#2: Leverage the Power of LinkedIn Groups
So how do you network with that executive you have in your sights? Let's say her name is Jill.
First, find out what groups she has joined on LinkedIn and join one of those groups.
Add value to her world by starting a discussion on a topic she would be interested in contributing to if possible. What better way to show your knowledge in a given area and raise your profile at the same time?
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Try to contribute in some way to any discussions that she might be taking part in. Have she asked any questions in the Answers section that you could help her with?
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In doing this, you are simply putting yourself on her radar, letting her know you exist.
#3: Find Out if Your Prospect Is on Twitter
Take a look at her profile and see if she has added her Twitter username into the Twitter field. Follow her on Twitter too.
LinkedIn automatically links to the Twitter account if it has been filled in on your prospect's profile page, making it really easy to follow her with the Tweets application.
To add this cool LinkedIn app, simply go to the Application directory under the “More” menu at the top and add “Tweets.” From there you can see the connections you are already following, and also the ones you are not.
You can even add them all into a Twitter list called LinkedIn Connections and each time connections add their Twitter name into the Twitter field, it will automatically update the Tweet list for you. If you are following them, it will update your Twitter list too.
What if they haven't filled in the Twitter field?
If your connections have not filled out the Twitter field, you will need to go back to Twitter and search for them individually under “find people.”
Once you are following them, either add them to a Twitter list you have created so that you can easily see each Tweet, or you may want to give them their own column, say “LinkedIn Connections,” using Tweetdeck to make it even easier to see what they are tweeting.
When the opportunity comes along for you to contribute to the conversation or you find something they have posted to be worth retweeting, do so. Don't wait for them to start a conversation on their topic of expertise. It may only be something simple like a conversation on football or the weather; it doesn't really matter. The point is you are chatting. Put yourself back on their radar again.
#4: Take the Communication Offline
Everyone knows that the best way to network is face to face, but networking online gives you a starting point and makes the world a very small place. What you now have to do is go to the next level and take it offline. When the time is right, organize a coffee catch-up, and take it from there.
The great thing here is that you have already started to build a relationship, and so when you do finally meet, the hard work has been done. You have turned a cold relationship into a warm one, and probably found some common ground for your first offline conversation.
Of course your style and content will also play a big factor, but the basic principles above do work, and have indeed worked for me.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this simple process and for you to share your success stories. Leave your comments in the box below.
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