LinkedIn: What are the UK Senior Sales Manager’s views on connecting to people you don’t know?
What does the ex-CTO of Freeserve say about Social Media?
These are just some of the questions I found the answers to by attending The Yorkshire Mafia‘s ‘Buy Yorkshire‘ Conference on 24th & 25th April
Social Media: The Coming of Age
This was the first seminar I attended at this year’s fantastic ‘Buy Yorkshire‘ Conference in Leeds, on 24th April.
Despite a rather heavy use of the word ‘serendipity‘ and its derivative ‘serendipitous‘, Rob Wilmot, Ex-CTO of Freeserve and Director/Owner of BCSAgency.com and Crowdicity.com, had some very useful insights on why we should all use Social Media as part of the marketing mix.
Rob reiterated all the things I have been telling people for some time, but added a some great current research data to back up what he was saying; so for me, it was a great validation of what I knew to be true instinctively.
Rob also used great personal examples of how social media had helped him and his business and of how he uses the various social media platforms himself. I was pleased to see that he (or his agency, at least) practices what he preaches, too:
Rob stressed some of the reasons for needing to use social media as a business tool:
- It’s where your customers are
- It’s where your competitors are
- We’re WAY past the tipping point
- Social Media has come of age
He also stressed the need to LISTEN before you start talking – a good old sales adage that holds true in general when it comes to effective communication. And social media simply offers a myriad more communication tools than we previously had at our disposal. Rob talked of setting up ‘listening posts’ (e.g. by using tools like Hootsuite to monitor keywords relating to your competitors, your business/you, and your business sector).
Rob further added that you need to be interactive (2-way communication!), ask questions and share useful information, communicate your values, connect with people and let your personality come through. You can read a bit more on this in my previous blog post about ENGAGING CONTENT.
In Rob’s presentation, he also talked quite a bit about ROI (Return on Investment) as time = money and your time spent on social media is an investment. Very valid point and Rob pointed out that platforms such as Hootsuite (and linked with Google Analytics) can provide you with lots of insights into how your social media activity is converting into specific page views and finally into sales.
I’ll leave end this review of Rob’s presentation on one interesting statistic (Source: Optify): 74% of people buy from recommendations!
Hire, Market and Sell with LinkedIn
Chris started with some astounding statistics…too many to jot down & mention, but here are are some highlights:
- LinkedIn has 11m UK members
- 1/3 of professionals worldwide use LinkedIn
- LinkedIn is the ONLY platform of its kind: it allows you to have your OWN professional brand, as an individual
A few useful tips that Chris provided:
- Make the most of the headline under your name: change it from time to time, don’t use your job title, use that space to BRAND yourself and showcase what you stand for, not just what you’re doing now!
- Add videos to your profile
- Change your profile picture from time to time
- There was a lot of interesting debate about the value of Endorsements as part of the Q&A session at the end…it’ll be interesting to see what happens to those in the long term! Chris put forward the view that receiving an Endorsement can create engagement and conversation. If you agree with the endorsement, you can thank the individual, if you don’t, you can ask them why they felt that the particular skill they endorsed you for was one of your key strengths etc.
Chris also mentioned a couple of LinkedIn features I hadn’t really used:
For a visual representation of your LinkedIn network by geographical location. I’ll have to have more of a play with it to see whether it has any real value, but it’s fun anyway. Here’s mine:
This is a daily news feed that you can customise to show you topics that are interesting/relevant to you. A great way to share engaging content with your connections!
This one’s possibly my favourite new LinkedIn find from this seminar! It shows you a snapshot of where your fellow school/uni alumni are in the world, who they work for and what they do, and then shows you the individuals and how you’re connected with them. A fabulous way of reconnecting with old school/uni contacts!
So what did Chris say about connecting to people you don’t know?
As you may know, this is a big no-no as far as LinkedIn are concerned. They are very firm about this and will therefore quickly stop you from asking to connect with people if you have too many “I don’t know this person” responses to your connection requests!
Chris said that he will only connect with people who “he knows, he’s met, or that he can add value to or take value from” and went on to say that if he gets a connection request without additional explanatory text from someone he doesn’t recognise, he responds, asking whether they’ve met and if not, why they think it would be a good idea to connect. He went on to say that he would then connect with them if they put a good enough case forward for connecting! So, from the horse’s (or the Senior Sales Manager’s, in any case) mouth…it seems ok to connect with people you don’t know as long as you can add value to them or they to you. So when you do ask for introductions, be upfront and honest about your reasons for wanting to connect and don’t just send the LinkedIn standard text that appears when you ask to connect to someone!