My recently started blog series covers my experience in personal branding and social selling with the small business professional in mind. Published every Monday morning during commute time under the hashtag #socialsellingmonday on LinkedIn, the series with four concrete tips per week gained a lot of conversations within the relevant audience. Knowing the social selling trend started in the corporate sales world, smaller businesses are missing out if they still see LinkedIn as an online CV of jobseekers. Here are the first six episodes.
What is Social Selling?
Part 1 of my Monday morning series about “Social Selling for Small Businesses” captures what I learned after one year of practice with an SMB focus. This new way of engagement started in the corporate world where employees of global organisations use LinkedIn for their prospecting.
- Social Selling means using social media and digital tools to advance the sales and marketing agenda. That doesn’t stop at corporate levels. Use the changed buying behaviour towards online research and late vendor engagement. Tip: be visible where the target audience hangs out, not where you are today.
- Keeping knowledge doesn’t work anymore. In the new way of engagement, providing perceived value by sharing own and curated content on LinkedIn or on the own blog helps to position with thought leadership. Tip: research topics in demand within your specialty using Twitter and provide regular guests posts on blogs, Medium or Quora.
- Connecting with strangers on LinkedIn is not the daily routine of most small business professionals. Tip: research who might fit into your target group and similar interested networking professionals.
- Small businesses prefer working with people who they know, like and trust. Let’s add “and who inspire, educate and entertain them”.
Achieved so far using Social Selling
Part 2 of my Monday series about “Social Selling for Small Businesses” captures what I achieved after one year of practice with an SMB focus.
- The objective is to turn conversations offline towards phone calls and meetings. That worked well as I met several professionals who I wouldn’t know without social selling and turned many into customers. We welcomed participants out of social selling at our events, and I even landed a job interview from a birthday wish.
- My formula “offline-online-offline” combines meeting relevant people at industry events with passive and active nurturing via LinkedIn before a trigger content leads to another engagement. That is stickier than collecting business cards and either do nothing or pitching straight away.
- Small businesses prefer working with people who they know, like and trust. Social selling enabled me to further position myself to inspire others, educate by sharing of material and even entertain with takeaway oriented event summaries.
- My network doubled with five times more profile views and at least ten posts per months viewed more than 1000 times. More importantly, the engagement brought me new valuable connections and thoughts for my business.
How to get started
Part 3 of my Monday morning series about “Social Selling for Small Businesses” captures how to get started in this journey with personal branding with an SMB focus.
- To engage with known and unknown professionals, your LinkedIn profile needs to show competency and highlight what you can provide to them assuming the target groups are defined well in advance. It’s time to see LinkedIn not as online resume anymore, that is just a side effect anyway.
- Show your work is perceived well by your clients. Which problems do you solve and how you guide your customers from solved pain points to a state of comfort so that they are willing to refer you further. The headline must tell exactly that in 120 characters max.
- Add creativity and storytelling to stand out within the crowd of similar professionals. Align the visual side of your website and collaterals with your personal brand into the LinkedIn profile by adding rich media, creative case studies and videos.
- Create and publish relevant content that suits the target audience as you have surely researched before. Don’t write just about one topic, show your genuine personality. Find out what to publish on LinkedIn, what on Twitter.
Connecting with the right audience
Part 4 of my Monday morning series about “Social Selling for Small Businesses” covers finding and connecting with the right audience. To spread our messages, our content needs to reach many people far beyond ideal readers.
- Define target personas for your healthy network – we need more than just future clients. Please find active professionals with a large LinkedIn following of your industry who are more likely to connect. They can be influencers, bloggers, existing customers and social networkers within an adjacent field.
- Search for people using “All Filters” to specify your query. Most people rarely use those fields to their full potential. Think more broadly and execute your search activity regularly.
- Find commonalities such as same university alumni, same LinkedIn group, following the same company etc. Lookup the second grade connections of your chosen multiplicators.
- Start contacting those well-chosen professionals. Don’t write InMails, better connect directly with them – including a personalised note with a hook. Like in real life, there is never a second chance to make a first impression. Show respect, engage a dialogue and don’t pitch!
Engaging with your new audience
Part 5 of my Monday morning series about “Social Selling for Small Businesses” covers engaging with your audience of recently added contacts.
- Ensure a welcome message remains between you and your new contact with a hook. Either upon connecting or if you accepted an invite without personalisation, make sure you find the initial conversation later when going to the contact in LinkedIn and press on “Messages”.
- Applying the “givers gain” principle, review the contact’s profile and think about what might be valuable to them. That can be a good advice, a provocative question, sharing your own material or something curated from outside. Engage with the person quickly to show you care.
- Bring your new contact into a public conversation like tagging them in one of your posts or comments. Ask them for their feedback and views, it can help them towards their network and to expand your reach.
- LinkedIn doesn’t allow storing information unless you have Sales Navigator. I suggest using a spreadsheet or CRM system to save that info and to categorise them (e.g. prospect, partner, influencer, former work colleague, competitor).
Personal Branding activities for the New Year
Part 6 of my Monday morning series about “Social Selling for Small Businesses” covers personal branding activities for the New Year with proper planning and target setting.
- Prepare your updated 2019 messaging highlighting how you can help others bringing their pain points from a solved problem into a state of comfort. Ensure this is compressed into the 120 characters of the LinkedIn headline.
- Create an editorial calendar about the topics you will share about, being that own material or curated content. If recycling existing stuff, make sure it is updated. Hint: use industry related trigger events to align your messages (e.g. World Backup Day on 31 March for those in IT).
- You want to have quantities of qualitative engagements, so create a target of how many relevant (!) connections you will gain per month. Always send personalised invites and provide useful material that suits their needs without pitching.
- Plan how much time you will dedicate to social selling. 45 min per day is enough to find new contacts and engage with your network sustainably. Plan the number of calls and meetings expected from social selling, gamify those targets. Consistency and persistency will make you successful.
More episodes coming in 2019.