Are you a 500+ on LinkedIn? Should you be?
First, 2 thoughts on quality over quantity and connections on LinkedIn.
- Some (most) will easily say quality over quantity and in the next breath list having over 500 connections on Linkedin as a goal. They use their connections as a boost to seem, well... connected, popular and important. They post in groups "Like me, I will like you back!" or "Comment here if you accept connections from everyone in this group." It is just another mailing list for them.
- Few would ever dream of disconnecting from someone and lower their connections count. Even less would actually pick up the phone and call one of their connections to say, "You know, I realized we are connected on LinkedIn and I am not sure I remember why we connected? Should we catch up, or disconnect?"
Having over 500+ on LinkedIn doesn't do a thing for you except keep others guessing- how many connections do you really have? Isn't what they should really be wondering is, "How many of those connections does this person actually have a real connection with that if we connected and I needed something- they could call on someone they knew, trusted, or at least thought well of to help me?"
How does this effect sales for a B2B company?
The most obvious difference between selling to businesses (B2B) and selling to individual consumers (B2C) is how long it takes. Why? Because B2B is usually higher risk, higher dollar amounts, more people involved= more time to do a complex sale.
To effect those B2B sales metrics, the answer lies less in the numbers themselves (which only tell you how something happened) and more in the relationships between how a prospect heard of you and the relationship that developed as a result.
Word of mouth will always perform better than any other means of getting a prospect into your sales funnel.
Start treating your LinkedIn connections like the precious assets they could be and they will become the connectors and mavens you need them to be.
How does this effect marketing for a B2B company?
Sales is the only thing that matters. If sales do not result from the marketing effort, no one will have anything to do. So for B2B marketers, your job is more as a publisher, curator of time sensitive and relevant content. "Mass", "blast" or "drop" should not even be in your vocabulary. If you can't find a way to relate on a personal and individual level, you will never break through the gates that surround your decision makers to get their attention. Your emails are being deleted faster than a CEO returning from vacation to an inbox of spam. Your tweets aren't even being seen, and someone's eye's are rolling every time you post your blog to your LinkedIn groups.
Take your cues from sales, buy them lunch and pick their brains. (hint: I have seen few sales people turn down the chance for a free lunch, most sales people will be too busy to make it to your "brainstorming session' meeting.) Find out as much intimate detail as you can about their sales conversations and build your marketing from there.
What about inbound networking, customer service and customer experience?
So what about them? Put this scenario in your thinking cap; how many deals have you lost (or never even knew existed) because the decision maker knows someone who knew the other guy? How many new customers have you gained because you went above and beyond for the client that was referred to you from your best customer?
Have you ever walked into a crowded bar and tried to get the attention of the rushed and hurried bartender, only to be ignored when the bartender acknowledged the regular who he knows tips him well?
Are you a regular with your connections, or just another guy yelling for a beer?
Inbound networking is no more of new concept than word-of-mouth is. But what if you could take that concept and multiply it by 1000?
Customer service starts with the first customer experience. The first customer experience happens when they find out about you. What would happen to your sales if they find out about you from someone they know is real and understands them? Someone they trust?
There are a few early adopters who are thinking the same thing and helping their inner circle do just that.
Are you willing to just be one of many?
Photo credit: Media Bistro
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