Networking

Are you guilty of using the ‘sheep dip’ approach?

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 I am sorry to say, I'm guilty!

It's not that I'm not wishing to be super personal and to engage with one person at a time and appeal to their specific goals and aspirations.

The truth is there are just not enough hours in the day to engage with every new connection request and every new follower at a level that I would ideally like. So some automation is inevitable. I'm still experimenting too and have already adjustedsome things.

I'm not using autobots as such, but I am manually adding new connections to my CRM and an automated process and messaging them with the same template message. And no, I don't feel great about it, but it's working at the moment.

My goal is to be engaging and strike up a conversation, share some valuable content and information that is free and at the same time being careful not to pitch anything. Its totally not my intention to do any kind of pitching. Eventually I'd like to have a conversation, which I call a discovery call. And that again is to provide some value, not to pitch.

I have carefully designed this process after weeks of testing it and receiving some deeper level of engagement with new connections, especially on LinkedIn. Anywhere else it's much harder to do. Email is still one of our default go to apps each morning. I know it's Facebook for most too.

I state very clearly in my auto emails that my purpose is to engage at a deeper level and invite recipients to unsubscribe if they wish to and indeed some do, but not as many as I had originally expected. Maybe one every 2-3 weeks.

I do receive a fair bit of engagement from these new connections and I also notice a lot don't. I'm surprised because they asked to connect with me in the majority of cases, at least 95% of them are incoming requests. Usually with no reason given for wishing to connect by the way.

The real engagement occurs when after a few touch points, which are a combination of engaging with their profiles and sharing some content and information, you manage to get agreement for a discovery call. When you are able to engage in a conversation with your connections, more clarity about who they are and what their goals are means that you can start to look out for clues and understand better how they'd like you to engage with them in the future. Over the years I've come to realise that this is by far the best method.

The goal always is to end up having a conversation. I believe by phone and usually Skype with video is best. I'd like to try other methods too, like Facebook messenger with video, although having tried it twice, it's still a bit unstable.

If you'd like to skip all the automation and go straight to a discovery call then by all means go for it and head over here,

http://www.stayingaliveuk.com/lets-talk

in the meantime let me know how you're feeling about my automation and by all means share your ideas and strategies that are working for you? 

LinkedIn created a brilliant eBook with my favourite illustrator. @gapingvoid (Hugh Macleod) creates the most amazing messages through his illustrations. Read more about him and@gapingvoidhere: (http://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/team-members/hugh-macleod/)

Occasionally I will share one of the articles and illustrations from the eBook and give you my opinion, interpretation, insight and my meaning.

@stayingaliveuk



#contentmarketing #content #socialmedia #engagement #marketing #socialselling #sales #empathy #distraction #purpose #relevance #trust #love #mastodon #why #linkedinlectures

Online is great and talking is even better. Everyone's ultimate goal in business and life is to make real connections, where you meet someone face to face. Before that meeting a conversation is the ultimate icebreaker. I value my LinkedIn connections and realise that I don't really know you or what your goals are and how I might facilitate or support those goals. Feel free to click through and book a call with me (https://www.stayingaliveuk.com/discovery-call/). I have blocked out only Fridays each week, excluding holidays, for calls. Hope to speak with you soon.

Are You Interested in Trust?

Maybe you are or maybe you aren’t. One thing’s for sure every relationship is built on a solid foundation of trust. If trust doesn't exist, a relationship can't exist. But what are the constituents of trust? I believe there are 3 main principles for trust to develop in your relationships. I've called it the 'Triad of Trust'.

1. Give more than you receive.

The principle here is about giving of yourself and searching for ways you can give support without expecting anything in return.

Nobody can force you to do this, it has to be the life force within you that decides that you will step out of your ego and give of yourself. I have witnessed many example of folks who really don’t get this right. Giving without expecting anything in return is really a tough concept for most to grasp. 

For just a few seconds think about your current relationships, your relationship with your line manager, your spouse, your kids, your parents and even your clients. Do you give consistently without expecting anything? We’re usually looking for some sort of payback, something that will make us feel good instead of focussing on making the other person feel great.

Putting this in the context of Marketing means that we must avoid too much self-promotion and instead share stories (or information) that will assist others and inspire them. 

Whenever I have a new connection on LinkedIn, I ask each connection who they wish to get in front of, i.e. what leads they may be looking for. I record those details on their LinkedIn profile. You'd be surprised how many actually don't bother answering, because they may be suspicious and believe I might have a different motive for the question. I guess it's human nature to be suspicious. Basically they don't trust me yet.

2. Listen generously.

Listening is the hardest skill for us to master because as soon as we hear someone speak we begin to formulate a response. This also happens with all types of mobile digital communication.

Who doesn't struggle with listening? Be honest, you can't wait to say something when you are listening (and thinking) when someone is speaking to you. My challenge to you is to hold back until you believe the speaker has completely finished. You’ll know when they have finished, because they’ll ask you a question. 

For example, I'm sure you've experienced attending a networking meeting. Imagine you meet someone for the first time there and often the first question will be, ’So what do you do?’. Instead of reeling off your rehearsed response, pause and say, ’Actually why don't you go first?’. 

This puts you in a state of listening straight away. And instead of waiting for them to finish and then jump into your own blabber, ask them a few questions. Listen out to truly understand and ask even further questions to understand at an even deeper level. It actually doesn't matter if you don't get your chance to say what you do. Understanding someone else’s story is much more important and they will remember you for it. 

The term listening generously I learnt from a client in the USA, http://winningdynamics.com, who I produced a Whiteboard Animation for. Be well worth watching, as the message is brilliant.

 

3. Share your knowledge willingly.

Our knowledge is precious and worth something. However, sharing your knowledge willingly with others builds trust. After all, you too learnt your knowledge from someone else.

We arrived on this plant with no knowledge and relied on our family, our teachers and all the different people we met in our lives to teach us what we know today. Therefore we actually learnt most of what we know from others. Just think about it. It's only with this knowledge that we've been able to potentially shape it into new knowledge that we create ourselves and then sell or share with others. Just like I'm doing right here.

But you don't have to sell all your knowledge do you?

You must give most of it away. You don't own it and our job is to pass it on. After all, your knowledge is only temporary, you can't take it with you when you depart this planet. You might as well start sharing it now.

I would love to learn from you how you ’Give, Listen and Share’ in your world. Feel free to share your comments below, so everyone can benefit from your experience and advice.

@stayingaliveuk

 

Does Business Networking Deliver Sales?

I am a small business (SOHO = single office home office) and I know how lonely it can be at times to work on your own. Therefore for years I've enjoyed going to business networking events. Interaction with humans and talking about what you do, makes you feel worthy and loved.

But actually it's a feeling that doesn't last very long at all. Almost immediately when you leave the networking event, you start thinking about what you've achieved. Usually nothing at all. Of course you've met some nice people, had a nice breakfast or lunch and exchanged some business cards.

So you have a few more extra business cards, which most of us do nothing with and even if someone showed some interest in your work you are unlikely to get a follow up email or call, from them. Why? Because they are their selling themselves and if you haven't bought from them, they are unlikely to want to go after you and buy from you.

Of course there are exceptions, but in the main, everyone is at the meeting trying to find business and an opportunity for an introduction at least.

Don't get me wrong I have had business through these events but my thinking is changing. I've been trying a different approach. So please read on...

You actually have no idea who will be showing up at a networking event and even if you did, they're probably the wrong people for your industry. Thinking that if you show up at regular events and people get to know you, it will eventually deliver business is a myth as well.

Then there are the BNI clubs or referral type clubs, where you are encouraged to find referrals for your club members. These only work for certain types of professions and it often ends up being very internal to the club where members are obliged to give business to their members in order to show that they are contributing. Actually excellent for people starting up in business, but no good for those who have all their business services covered. Plus it's expensive.

These clubs not only have high costs per year and weekly breakfast costs, over time they do not deliver ROI.

And yes there are exceptions, I know, but times are changing.

You can now find your leads through careful and considered searching on the web. And of course searching doesn't deliver sales either, but now there's LinkedIn.

With 500+ million globally and 23+ million in the UK, LinkedIn is the only and best business professional network. Here you can connect to your prospects and develop relationships like you've never been able to at any time in your business career. (I'm a baby boomer so I've been around for a while).

Now it's not easy and it's not that hard either, you just need to train yourself to be disciplined and laser focussed.

Sales is a process and not a game of luck. You have to work through the process with discipline and resolve and ensure that you don't give up on your efforts, even if they aren't delivering results to begin with. After all you've been going to networking events with no sales results for years and have kept going!

By the way I’m not advocating that you shouldn't go to any events, one or two per month will be fine. But some small businesses spend hours upon hours going to networking events. Have you ever worked out the costs? Lets do an example and I know it won't be right for everyone but maybe you can do your own calculation based on the following blueprint.

  1. Cost of event, lets say £20 (non-membership events)
  2. Cost of travel to and from, lets say £10
  3. Parking is free sometimes, I know, but City Centre events maybe £5
  4. Time taken to travel on average lets say 20 minutes x 2 = 40 minutes
  5. Time at event on average 2 hours
  6. Lost productivity time, stopping and starting project work 30 minutes
  1. Total monetary costs £35
  2. Total approx 3 hours @ a modest £40 per hour lost time = £120
  3. Total costs £155
  4. Across the month for just 2 events £310
  5. Total cost per year £3,720
  6. Add to that any club memberships if you have any or do the calculation for that instead

Actually I've been very conservative in my estimation and I believe the figure is closer to £5000 per year on average, because we add new events now and again and waste more time in the process too.

Feel free to use the link below to the calculator to work out your own costings.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Vt77AtGNYkwszXqYMER28KDHB3Uh8Kpv_QkpMEKJ-oc/edit?usp=sharing

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I would like to get an accurate figure for this so I am doing a quick survey and will appreciate your contribution. Complete the survey via http://styin.me/networkingresearch2 or scroll the form below to complete it here.

Time to take on a different approach. My new approach!

  1. Use LinkedIn to grow your network and this doesn't mean connecting to strangers but it does mean uploading your current address book. On average you know at least 200 people and in some cases even loads more!
  2. They also know at least 200 people, so in one action your network already will be 40,000 people. Many more than you will ever meet in your lifetime of going to networking events.
  3. Do you think there might just be at least one person in that network, who you would be interested in connecting to? The great thing is that your connections already know that person, so asking for an introduction will be an easy thing to do right?
  4. Remember that it's not your connections that you are necessarily interested in, it's their connections where the money is.
  5. And we haven't even explored a myriad of other strategies you can adopt on LinkedIn to get closer to that ideal connection.

Now just making the connection isn't enough is it?

Most people that have connected to me, never follow up with me and I used to be one of those too. But not anymore. Firstly I always acknowledge a connection and secondly, I ask that new connection to have a Skype video call with me so that I get to know their business better. You may think, oh dear that's very impersonal! But actually it's not, having a video call is actually more personal compared to a face to face meeting and some people shy away from this method I know.

You see, in a public place there are more distractions so you don't have to listen to everything the individual says but on a Skype call you have to listen to every word and believe it or not you remember more about the person and get a better insight to what they do and what they are looking for.

Now remember that you are wishing to learn more about them and indeed you do want to help them find new business. Only when you come from a place of wishing to help does this work. If you are only there to sell, this will not work and people will see straight through it.

The response I've had from people has been wonderful, they've enjoyed the video call and are delighted too that they've not had to travel, get up at the crack of dawn, pay for fuel, parking, breakfast or lunch and not wasted 3 hours of their time in the process.

We have a much closer and better relationship from where we can build.

But of course that's not where the work stops. You have to keep in touch with each other, look out for each other and recommend each other.

To start with you can endorse their skills on LinkedIn, which will enhance their own profile and they will more than likely return the favour too. Writing recommendations can come later when you or they have done a piece of work.

Social selling has never been easier and by taking the time to strategically find your connections and develop them intelligently, you will transform your business. And just because your business may be successful with current busy customers, you have to keep topping up with more prospects, even if you don't need those customers at the moment.

I hope this will give you some food for thought and for more tips and advice, follow me on twitter @stayingaliveuk or follow my tips via hashtag #LinkedLectures.

Success with your LinkedIn Networking.