Social Media

Get Linked In, Not Left Out

Million Dollar Round Table 2012 Annual Meeting
Anaheim, CA | June 11, 2012

 

Hi Eric –

Thanks for attending my presentation on social networking last week at the MDRT Annual 2012 Meeting in Anaheim. As always, I really enjoyed my time with you. With people from more than 20 countries joining in on the two sessions we did, it was a fantastic group.

Here’s the recap of my talk that you requested. You can read it start to finish or use the table of contents below to jump to any of its sections. Hopefully you’ve already implemented at least one or two of the ideas we covered. If not, now’s a good time to get started. These strategies and tactics can fill your sales pipeline and transform how clients and prospects view both you and the firm – but only if you implement them!

If you’d like to brainstorm some quick ways to operationalize these ideas, you are welcome to call me (202-364-6913) or send an email ( kip@gregory-group.com).

We look forward to hearing from you.


In This Recap…

  • Take Control of the Referral Process
  • Improve Your Branding
  • Uncover Hidden Connections to Prospects
  • Take Action


Take Control of the Referral Process

What is your best source of new business? Referrals, right? OK, so imagine this…

Your top two or three referral sources agree to open their Rolodex to you. Not for a quick look, but any time. Which means you can browse each one at your leisure — as often as you want. Amazingly, each Rolodex is programmed to alert you every time a new name is added to it, and give you a profile of who the person is, where they work, their job title, previous roles, groups they’re involved in, personal interests, where they went to school, and more.

Forget powerful, that kind of intelligence would be priceless. It’s the kind of advantage that could easily transform your business.

No more hit-or-miss, “who do you know who might benefit from the type of work we do together?” exchanges. Instead you’d come to every conversation armed with a list of specific targets. “Mr. or Miss Client/Center of Influence/Referral Partner, I’m wondering if you can give me a little insight on a handful of folks I think you’re acquainted with…?” (After which you can still have the “who else do you know…?” conversation, by the way.)

But why stop there? What about all those clients and key contacts you’re NOT getting referrals from… but know you should be. What if you had the ability to do the exact same thing with them? Activating even just a few as additional referral sources could rocket you to another level of success very fast.

The kicker to what I’m describing is that this magic Rolodex already exists, if you’re savvy enough to tap into it. And doing so won’t cost you a penny. It’s LinkedIn, the Web’s fastest growing business networking site: over 160 million members, and expanding at more than two new ones every second (and with content currently available in 16 languages other than English).

Here’s just one way you can use LinkedIn to capitalize on a recurring business development opportunity: articles in your daily paper that highlight successful business owners and executives in your area.

In the old days, if you read a story profiling an attractive prospect — someone you clearly wanted to contact — you’d likely just cold call them. Because unless it was obvious that you shared an acquaintance who’d make an introduction, how would you ever figure out that you knew somebody who knew them?

Fast forward to today. You read the same article but can instantly check LinkedIn to see if that potential prospect has a profile there. If so, you digest what it says, and determine whether the two of you are somehow connected (it’ll indicate, right there on the person’s profile page). Assuming you are, a quick call to one or more of those mutual acquaintances may help you better qualify that person as a prospect, shed light on what makes them tick, or perhaps even result in your getting a personal introduction.

The question now becomes, “Why wouldn’t you want to do that for every prospect who’s NOT already a referral?”

I could go on and on but if you’re wondering how you can begin leveraging the site, just follow these five steps:

  • Set up an account. It’ll take under a minute. All that’s required is to create a user ID and password, and list your email address, name, and where you currently work. (Note: Be sure to review your company’s compliance guidelines to familiarize yourself with what features of LinkedIn you can and cannot use.)
  • Input contact names and emails. The fastest way to begin building out your network is to let LinkedIn compare who’s in your address book with people in its user base. To do that, click on the green Add Connections link in the upper right-hand corner of any page on the LinkedIn site. Then, on the page that appears, look for and click on the link at the bottom of the left-hand (blue) box that says “Import your desktop email contacts” to get the process started. The site will then compare (privately… you’re the only one who sees the results) your contacts to LinkedIn’s membership roster and flag people you know that are already using the service.
  • Invite people to connect. Remember, personalize your invitation language so that your message stands out from all the other ones your contacts are receiving. It’s an easy, quick, free way to differentiate yourself. Send out no more than three to five at a time. Otherwise you can get overwhelmed with responses and miss the opportunity to respond with a quick follow up note or phone call that (re)establishes a dialogue.
  • Monitor activity across your network. That’s what the “All Updates” section on your LinkedIn home page is for. It provides a real-time snapshot of who’s connecting with whom, groups people are joining, questions they’re asking, what they are working on, and more. It’s like a radar screen of what’s happening with everyone you know. Click on the “More” dropdown menu to zero in on any of 10 categories.
  • Reach out regularly. Networking is a contact sport. Lots of people incorrectly assume you have to make that contact through the LinkedIn site. You certainly can, but you don’thave to. You can just as easily pick up the phone, fire off a quick email, or make mention of something the next time you see someone in person. The point is the intelligence you uncover is useless (and a waste of time to gather) if you don’t capitalize on it somehow to make or strengthen connections.

The bottom line is LinkedIn is revolutionizing how business gets done for those taking advantage of it. If you want to move ahead of the pack, make sure you’re one of them.

(And here’s one final suggestion for strengthening your reputation as a true business partner. Once you get set up and comfortable using LinkedIn, help your clients and others do the same. Then show them how they can use LinkedIn to capitalize on business development opportunities that look attractive to them. Show them how to shorten their own sales cycle with the right pre-call intelligence work and they’ll never forget you.)

 

*****
ACTION STEP: If we’re not already connected on LinkedIn and you’d like to add me to your circle of contacts, I’d be pleased to help you however I can. Use the link that follows to send me an invite:

http://linkd.in/link2kip

(If LinkedIn asks for my email address on the invite screen, use kip@gregory-group.com.)

 

 

Improve Your Branding

Before we move off of the topic of managing referrals, take a moment to think about what happens in the typical referral conversation.

You talk to someone. They agree to refer or introduce you to someone they know. And then, hopefully, they do.

Then what? What is the person you’re looking to meet likely to do after (or even as) your mutual friend floats the idea of getting the two of you together? 

If they are the least bit interested… and the least bit tech-savvy, the first thing they will probably do is Google you.

And what are they going to find?

If you’re on LinkedIn, the thing they are likely to find first (or right up near the top) is your LinkedIn profile — the messaging, the BRANDING, that you want them to read about you. The stuff you wrote; not some snippet of a five year-old article someone else authored that mentioned your name.

(Go ahead, give it a try right now… Google your name and see what comes up.)

The reason LinkedIn (and Facebook) profiles show up high in the list of results on Google, Bing, and the other search engines is that, when it comes to searching for information onpeople, those sites are considered authoritative sources. That means any results found on those sites tend to get pushed to the top of the list.

So the next question you should ask is, “What are people seeing when they view my LinkedIn profile?” Is it a well-crafted message about the solutions you offer the clients you serve, the problems you help them solve? Or is it a patchwork smattering of factoids like the company you work for and where you went to school (the bare minimum information LinkedIn asks for when you open an account)?

If you haven’t done it, one of your first actions should be to fill out that profile! Not sure what to include? For starters, use whatever bio information your marketing and compliance departments have already approved. That will at least give visitors to your page better information about you. Meanwhile, get to work on writing a profile from your visitors’ point of view. Spell out how you help people just like them tackle their most pressing investment challenges.

Then, once you’ve got that content in place, be sure to adjust your Profile Settings so that the information in it can be viewed via search engine results by people outside of LinkedIn. You do that by clicking on the drop down arrow next to your name in the upper right-hand corner of any page on LinkedIn, selecting Settings, and then clicking on “Edit your public profile” in the Helpful Links section of the Profile tab. You’ll be taken to your “Public Profile” page where you can then decide which sections of your profile will be visible in public search results (i.e. outside of LinkedIn).

With that profile in place, you can now be confident people are seeing the “you” you want them to see when they go online seeking more background.

 

Uncover Hidden Connections to Prospects

Ever get caught off guard by a news story you missed until someone else told you about it? An important story about a client advisor, competitor, or maybe an announcement about your own company?! Google Alerts can eliminate that problem.

Before we get to the Alerts part, let’s start with Google News. Google News is an aggregator of news stories appearing on the Web. Besides delivering updated headlines every 15 minutes, the site lets you search its 25,000 sources worldwide (in any of the 70 different languages) for keywords you identify, and then gives you a list of whatever stories containing those terms have appeared in the past 30 days.

Google Alerts automates that search request. It instructs Google to email you links to any articles containing your requested keywords on whichever schedule you select — as it happens, daily or weekly.

Taken together these tools are a powerful mechanism for staying on top of stories about organizations, individuals and topics of interest — clients, prospects, strategic partners, competitors, markets you focus on, etc.

One of the smartest ways to use Google News is to surface stories related to individual or corporate life events — a company that’s planning a layoff, someone who has received a promotion, a key executive’s retirement announcement — all of which may indicate that money is (or will be) in motion. To get started, try testing different variations and combinations of the keywords below. Or you can brainstorm your own. Either way, the goal is to see what money in motion and other selling and networking opportunities you can surface right at this moment:

 

 

acquired
expanding
promoted
announced
funded
published
appoints
hiring
purchased
awarded
joined
reported
contracted
layingoff
relocating
donating
merging
retiring
downsizing
meeting
selling
elected
named
surveyed

opened


You can also try phrases which can be an even more effective way to get at individual or corporate “life event” information (remember to bracket your phrases in quotation marks so that the search engine recognizes that you only want to see those terms as an exact phrase):

 

“has been appointed”
“will lay off”
“plans to hire”
“has stepped down”
“intent to acquire”
“spinning off”
contract “has been awarded”
“will be joining the”
announced “has acquired”
“will be relocating”
“has been promoted”
“opened a new office”
“has been named”
“report released”
“elected to the”
announce merger
“million in (cash OR stock)”
awarded contract
reported earnings
sold shares stock
“record earnings”
“plans to sell”
“assumed responsibility for”
“recently named”
“plans to restructure”
“plans to open”
“will be responsible for”
issued “request for proposal”
“personnel changes”
“to cut * jobs”


(Don’t forget to download our Money in Motion worksheet to help develop a list of trigger words specific to your practice.)

Since our session was in Los Angeles, let’s say you wanted to see articles published just in California (but anywhere across the state) in the past month, articles that include the words announced and acquired (for possible leads on people whose jobs may be changing because of lay offs — or new hires — in conjunction with that acquisition)…

Click here to see those results, or copy and paste the following string into your browser’s Address bar:

http://news.google.com/news?as_q=announced+acquired&as_nloc=CA

Newspapers routinely publish the types of changes we’re talking about. Here in the United States, they often appear under columns with titles such as “People on the Move,” “Movers and Shakers,” or “Appointments,” If you discover that your local paper is one of them try searching on and the publication name and column title to see if it gets picked up in a Google News search. If it does, you may be able get at that information when it’s posted online well before it arrives on your competitor’s doorstep in print.

Examples of daily papers in the U.S. that offer that kind of summary include:

 

 

Albany Times Union
Philadelphia Inquirer
Buffalo News
Saint Louis Post Dispatch
Charlotte Observer
Salt Lake City Tribune
Cincinnati Enquirer
San Diego Union Tribune
Daily Record (NJ)
San Francisco Chronicle
Denver Post
Seattle Times
Des Moines Register
Tampa Tribune
Detroit News
Tennessean (Nashville)
Long Island Newsday
Washington Post


One of the easiest ways to understand what Google News can do for you is to play around with its Advanced Search page. There you’ll see you have lots of ways to narrow the scope of your inquiry. For example, you can ask to see only results that include your keywords only in the title (i.e. headline) of the story. Or only search for stories from a certain source, or within a specific location — as in the example just mentioned.

Once you determine the right combination of words or phrases to use, and parameters for finding them on Google News, you can ask Google to alert you automatically whenever it finds something that matches your request. To do that, scroll down to the bottom of the page of results and look for a link that says “Create an alert for…[your search request].” Clicking on that link will open the Google Alerts page with you search terms already included. Choose what type of result you want (News by default but Everything, Blogs, Video, Discussion, and Books are also options), how often you want them sent (As-it-happens, once a day, or once a week), how many results (only the best results or all results), and the email address you want the information sent to — and click on “Create alert.” Check your email for a confirmation message from Google, click on the link it contains, and you’re done.

Oh, and by the way, none of that costs you a penny.

In short, you can use Google News and Alerts to sift through the tsunami of “news” generated every day …and only deliver the handful of stories that are relevant to you, any one of which might trigger a business development or relationship management breakthrough. (And don’t worry, if Google News doesn’t find anything you don’t get an alert — which keeps the number of messages you receive to a minimum.)

Now here’s the most critical step… when you see a story that fits your prospect’s profile, circle back to LinkedIn and type in the name of the person or company mentioned as a Person or Company search, to see if and how you are connected. You may be amazed to discover you have a very solid “in” through a close friend or colleague to the people you want to reach.

A point worth remembering… Adding value is about not only keeping your ear to the ground for your own benefit, but on behalf of the clients and others you network with. These tools together give you that ability. They are like hiring a clipping service but a whole lot cheaper. In fact, they don’t cost a dime.

 

 

Take Action

Years ago I read a quote that’s stuck with me ever since: “Even the most brilliant idea is useless if not acted on.” So true… and why I suggest that before you call it a day today, you pick one thing described here, and IMPLEMENT it! Invite someone you know to join your network on LinkedIn, create a Google Alert on your clients — whatever moves you forward.

The trick is to do it now. Tomorrow you’ll be on to something else and these strategies will be a memory unless you put one of them to work and see how it benefits you.

The other critical thing you should do? Identify an accountability partner. Someone who’ll keep your feet to the fire in following through with whatever you commit to do. Go out on a limb and tell them what it is then request that they ask you for a progress report a week and again a month from now.

Otherwise, the value of these improvements to you will quickly evaporate. Which is a shame — because any one of them can make a meaningful, measurable difference in your results. More time, more money, more control, less frustration.

So go ahead, take the first step. And if I can help you please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m only a phone call or email away (202-364-6913 or kip@gregory-group.com).

 

 

Regards,

Kip Gregory