I know, I know.
You go to LinkedIn, open the newsfeed, and you’re immediately fatigued by the self-promotion, the sales pitches, and the career announcements.
Don’t be fooled.
We’re continuing our series on Tiny Tasks for Ginormous Gain, and we’re highlighting the tips that only the pros know. In this case, we’re highlighting a tip that the pros use.
Most people know about LinkedIn (or, at least think they know about LinkedIn); very few use it to its fullest capabilities. LinkedIn is not a destination spot (like facebook), LinkedIn is a conduit that will lead you from one connection (one buyer) to the next.
How are the pros using LinkedIn?
They typically spend time on LinkedIn every week (some, every day). It might be a few minutes a day, it might be an hour per week, but they know, as all pros know, that all future business is connected to your existing network.
Today, LinkedIn rolled out a new redesign on their popular search feature which makes it even easier to find the right contacts.
How are promo pros using search?
- Existing clients: They are using LinkedIn’s search to expand their network with existing customers. They use the search feature to look for 2nd and 3rd connections within existing customers, then they use the persuasive power of promotional products (via a mailed or hand-delivered campaign) to open the door.
- They use “similar title and similar company search.” Think about your top 5-10 clients. Are there similarities in titles? Director of Marketing? Director of Communication? Are there similarities in verticals? Finance. Insurance. Tech. Map the similarities in title, department, and industry, and then search for these on LinkedIn.
The Oil and Gas industry spends millions on promotional products each year. We worked with a few of these clients and wanted more. For a long time, I stumbled around trying to find where potential buyers might be within other oil companies but I was looking in the wrong departments because I was fixated on the department of “Marketing,” not realizing that the infrastructure of large industries mirror each other. Our current buyers were in an obscure department called “Office Services” (a department I thought so obscure that there couldn’t be others). I was wrong. Other oil companies also had an “Office Services” department. Once I mapped the connection, I could then fine-tune my search, connect with a buyer, and begin my offline campaign.
- They use the zip code search. Fifteen years ago it was impossible to find all the potential buyers (by title) within range of your location. Now, with zip code search (plus title, or company search), you can find all the pertinent buyers and companies with a radius of your locale. You can finesse this search by company size, industry, and more.
Here is the beauty of LinkedIn for the promo professional: we are search pros. We’re masters at sourcing hard-to-find products; it’s a skill we develop by doing it over and over, but rarely do we turn that skill to the most important search faculty of all: that of finding new customers.
Buyers are a mouse click away. You should never use the excuse that you don’t know who to call on, that you can’t find a buyer. The pros know that they need to spend a little (not a lot!) time on LinkedIn each week to develop the habit of prospective search.
Pro tip: Maximize Molasses Monday. Everyone has a time of the week when business is a little slower, when there are fewer interruptions. What day of the week is that for you? For me, it was usually Monday morning. That was the time I would spend in LinkedIn, adding to my network, writing notes, building my connections. The day would soon get swallowed by imminent deadlines, but, for a small moment each week, I could do this one, tiny task of proactive, future-proofing work.
Some people balk at using LinkedIn, they consider it old school, uncool. You know what’s uncool? Getting fired by your biggest client and suddenly scrambling to get serious about finding new buyers. That’s uncool (I know, I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve watched many salespeople -through tears- flounder through this process as well).
Make “making connections” important, now. Develop a weekly habit of adding (and reaching out to) new people.
An old sales pro, Harvey Mackay, wrote the best networking book you could ever read, it sums up the reason why the pros habitually make new connections, it’s called: Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.
(To read more in this series of Tiny Tasks for Ginormous Gain, visit: Your Year of Tiny Tasks; Ginormous Gain and also The Promo Professional’s Frenemies and Where to Find Margin for More).