With a high value suspect, prospect, or customer, it might be worth learning something about one of their most eclectic interests. In other words, to create some common ground that may not have existed before.
While Facebook and Twitter are social networking media, LinkedIn was intended from the start as a business networking tool. In theory, you can establish a network that contains everyone you do business with, or would like to do business with. LinkedIn also gives you the ability to search on a variety of parameters. For example, I just searched “American Red Cross” for “marketing” titles within 50 miles of my zip code. The first listing that came up was their local Director of Marketing and Communications, and it turns out that she went to the same college my wife attended, at about the same time. We also have two other business connections—people in her network that I also know—and I’m reasonably sure that I could get one of those people to provide me with an introduction. The only problem, perhaps, is his relationship with her. Does she know him/like him/trust him enough that she’d meet with me based on his recommendation?
I have used LinkedIn to look up companies that I’m interested in, to help me with that first level of identification I mentioned earlier. I have also used LinkedIn to learn more about people I’ve already identified, to see if I might have some network pathway to them. I’m looking for something that will increase my likelihood of making a connection, and ultimately selling something.
This is important: I don’t reach out to my prospects to say “we have a mutual friend/connection.” I reach out to the friend/connection to say “can you introduce me to this person?” As I’ve been saying for years, the only thing better than a referral in business is an introduction!
There is some business building potential in social networking media, and very definite potential in a business networking tool like LinkedIn. Like any other form of networking, though, it’s the working part that’s most important. Please don’t kid yourself into thinking that just because you’re on Twitter or LinkedIn that you’re doing your business any good.
And don’t kid yourself about how much time you’re really spending on this stuff, or when you’re spending it. Thirty minutes of dedicated networking in the evening will probably put money in your pocket. An hour on Facebook during the working day probably will not.