Are you using social networking effectively?

Author -  Labyrinth Solutions

Are you using Facebook and LinkedIn for Business? If so are you using it as effectively as you might?

When we talk to people about their use of social networking for business we find that it’s generally confined to merely creating a business Facebook page in the hope that it increases their brand exposure eventually leading to new business – does this sound like you? Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong in this as far as it goes, but you’re definitely missing a few tricks that could make this medium work so much better for you.

A major part of my role at Labyrinth is to source new business. No one really likes to do cold calling and typically the results are generally on the poor side of low. To warm leads up we do a lot of networking, making sure we’re at the places our prospects are. We also involve ourselves in speaking at seminars etc. the aim being to raise our profile and show that we are experts in our field. However after all this, there still comes the dreaded cold calling!

As head of Business Development I tend to make calls to the larger prospects – the ones whose business we really want to win. Before making that first call I naturally do a little research, looking at their website being the absolute minimum. Lately though I've been doing a little extra research - on Facebook and in LinkedIn!

If they have a Facebook page it gives me an idea on their thinking on the importance of their online presence - something I need to know as I'm in the business of selling websites and online marketing services. The number or Fans/Likes, and the regularity of their postings tells me how pro-active they are with it. Also, what they choose to talk about gives me an idea of their culture and the approach I need to take to get in the door with them. Importantly it sometimes reveals issues or problems that our services can help with. Whatever your line of business, there will almost certainly be times that the information you get from their social networking posts will provide you with a snippet of invaluable information – a need or an issue they need addressing and for which you have just the answer.

Generally I will Like or become a fan of their site and I make sure I post a few sensible or insightful comments so that whoever is managing their pages gets some awareness of who we are. When I've done this before my sales call, the comment I quite often get is " Hey, I've seen you on our Facebook pages" - a great conversation and door opener.

For us, dealing with corporates, our sales cycle tends to be fairly lengthy, often 12 months or more. After my sales pitch I obviously I follow up with regular telephone calls and emails, but I now also keep an eye on their Facebook postings too,  comenting where I can on things that interest them ( sensible comments of course) and sharing links to information that reinforces my sales pitch etc. This is a very softly softly approach but is great for ensuring you stay in their consciousness and improving our chances over the length of the sales cycle when we might otherwise have faded into the background.

LinkedIn is also a resource, great for helping identify the right contact at the organisations we want to speak to. Again sometimes the information in their profile or in the things they chose to speak about gives ideas as to the right approach to take with them. LinkedIn is another useful tool for ongoing relationship building too.

So, these are some of the things the team and I do here, though I'm confident that there are some excellent ideas that we're missing. Care to share yours?

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