Are you utilising the lead generation powers of this LinkedIn feature?

When we talk to people about LinkedIn most of them don’t see beyond their own profile.  As long as they have one, and they’re connecting with the latest people they’ve met at an event, they believe they’re doing well.

Of course, they’re not generating any leads, and not getting any business through LinkedIn, but that’s fine.

Others realise there’s a bit more to it, and might have set up a Company Page, and might even be doing searches for some specific key individuals they want to be introduced to. But that’s as far as it goes.

All of that’s fine, apart from most people will admit they’re not getting much out of the whole process, and don’t know why they’re bothering. To mis-quote Tom Lehrer, LinkedIn’s a lot like a sewer; what you get out of it depends on what you put in to it.

If you want to stop getting rubbish out, you need to put a bit more effort in and start really thinking about your lead generation strategy.

One of the best ways to connect with new people, and strike up genuine conversations that can actually lead on to business is via LinkedIn groups.  So many people fail to understand the little gems that can lurk in these untapped resources, so there’s plenty for you to work with.

This all sounds wonderful, but how do you get started?

Step 1: Find a group

Quite obviously you need to join a group, but it needs to be the right one for what you’re hoping to achieve.

You could of course create your own group, but in order for this to work you have to be able to spend a lot of time on it.  If you haven’t already spent time in any other groups, I really don’t recommend this route.

Instead, look at what’s already available.  That way you will be able to access an already established audience.

When you’re searching for groups think about your buyer personas (which I’m sure you’re very familiar with and have worked out in detail).  What sort of things are they interested in?  Who are they? Where are they going to be hanging out online? Figure that out, and then go join the same groups.

Alternatively, think about your competitors, and see if they have already set up any groups themselves.  Not to poach their potential leads (there’s enough people on LinkedIn, you can find your own!) but to see what they’re doing, what works and what doesn’t.

You should also consider joining groups that are relevant to your industry.  This is a fantastic way to hit the ground running, get used to being involved in discussions, and you may even be able to pick up some tips along the way.

Step 2: Post

As a member of quite a few groups (one of which is an awesome shoe worshippers group on Facebook) I can assure you that the vast majority of people say nothing.  They’re lurkers.

Which is fine, but when it comes to LinkedIn, you need to make sure you’re out there and actively getting your point across.

Most groups have specific rules about what you can, and can’t post, so as long as you follow those, you’re not going to go too far wrong. The main key is not to be too self-promotional.  A LinkedIn group is there to serve its members, and that’s usually done by sharing information and educating.

Make sure that you don’t just get involved in posts that are asking for services you can provide, but that you engage with the whole group as much as possible. People really do notice if you’re just there to sell, and that doesn’t help to develop any relationships further.

Equally, when you are responding to anything, keep your content relevant.  Any help you can offer will be seen as helpful, and that will be remembered too.  It doesn’t take long for people to see you as the good go-to for that particular type of advice or assistance, which is precisely what you want.

Step 3: Monitor results

As with any lead generation tactic you need to keep track of how well it’s working.  You might find that some groups are more beneficial than others. Equally, you may see that you learn more from some than you might in another one, and that’s just as valuable as actually developing leads.

Only you know what you’re looking for, but LinkedIn Groups are a fantastic way to find it.

 

So many business cards, so little time

ToEarlier this month Time Saving Heroes had the pleasure of exhibiting at The Big Bolton Expo, hosted by thebestofBolton.  Having attended a number of different expos, both as an exhibitor and a delegate over the past three years, I can honestly say this was hands down the most professional, friendly and well run event I’ve been to.

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The organisers did a great job of being on hand to help with any questions, and were always friendly, calm and fun to talk to.  At other events I’ve seen the people “in charge” running around like headless chickens, which I always think leaves a poor impression.  It also makes them very unapproachable if you do have a query.

With such a well-run event it’s impossible to come away, no matter what side of the stand you were on, without a handful of business cards and a bunch of new contacts to follow up with.  While it’s always important to follow up, after splashing the cash on a stand, it’s imperative. You need to justify that time, effort and just as importantly the financial expense.

This is where a VA can come in handy.  I know some businesses have a team behind them, and some may even have a whole marketing department, but for sole traders and SMEs this is not the case.  After spending a whole day exhibiting, you’re going to want to crack on with “work” the second you’re back in the office the next day, and then, before you know it, an entire week has passed and you’ve not sent a single email.

Admittedly, the contacts aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow up in a timely manner.  The longer you leave it the harder it might be for someone to remember you, and any conversation you might have had.  Sending an email the next day leaves a good impression – it shows you’re organised, if nothing else.

How a VA can help

Here at Time Saving Heroes we have a number of clients that we only work with after expos and conferences.  It’s the only time they need to use our services.  Whilst every client in this situation is different, here’s what we do for most:

  1. If the client is local they will either drop off their new pile of business cards, or we will collect from them. If they aren’t local, they tend to take photographs and send them to us via email/Dropbox etc.
  2. Once we have the business cards we collate all the information in to a spreadsheet, which can then be easily uploaded in to their CRM systems. If we have access to the CRM system itself we will upload the data directly.
  3. If any information is missing from the business cards/leaflets we will take the time to search this out. It might be that there’s no Twitter handle on the card – so we will look to see if the business or individual is on social media, and find all relevant links.
  4. For most clients we will have pre-written their initial contact email, and now we will send it out on their behalf. It might be a specific email, or it might be in the form of a newsletter, depending on the client’s preferences.
  5. We will ensure we make contact with all businesses and individuals on behalf of the client via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other platform they deem to be relevant.

 

After that we can help schedule certain individuals for further follow-up, as well as writing any other emails and/or newsletters that the client might want to send.

 

If you have been to an expo, conference or any other networking event and are worried that you don’t have time to capitalise on the new contacts you’ve made remember Time Saving Heroes. We are your secret weapon in the fight against time. Call 0161 883 2024 for more information.

 

 

How a VA can make you a better networker

For the last few weeks I’ve been talking about how a VA can be a huge help when it comes to sorting out an overwhelmed inbox. This week I thought I’d look at other ways an extra pair of hands might be able to help you run your business more efficiently.

Let’s look at networking, one of my favourite things about being a business owner.

One thing many people struggle with is making the most of their networking activities. It’s all very well finding the time to actually attend a networking meeting either weekly or fortnightly, but doing it right can be all too time consuming for some.

Networking isn’t simply about showing up and passing business cards around. You need to take the time to think about what it is you want to say – you only have 60 seconds to get your point across and make people remember you. Equally, you also need to commit to the follow up. If you’re not going to make the most of any connections or leads that have come your way, you’re totally wasting your time rocking up to an event in the first place.

I have one client who attends, on average, six networking events a week. All, bar one, are morning meetings which he likes because he can get them out of the way before most people have started in the office. However, he came to the realisation that he wasn’t keeping on top of everything effectively, which meant he was essentially wasting his time, and money, by going to all these different events.

In order to help reduce the strain on his time, and ensure that he is being as efficient as possible with his networking activities we have put a few things in place.

60 Seconds

Once a month we have a 10 minute phone call to brainstorm ideas and catch up on what’s been happening in his business. From this chat, and from my general day to day knowledge of what he’s been up to, I am able to write his 60 seconds/elevator pitches for him to use.

He prides himself on not using the same information over and over again, as he wants to keep things interesting for the rest of the people in the room. Thankfully I have a great system set up whereby I know what he has said in which group, and when so there is not likely to be any repetition.

CRMs

When a new member joins one of his groups, or a visitor has attended, he will send me a picture of their business card via WhatsApp. I will then add their details in to his CRM system, along with information of what meeting they attended, if they have been before and if he has set up a one to one meeting with them.

One to Ones

Before you think it, no, I do not attend one to one’s on his behalf! We did talk about it once, and I managed to talk him out of it. However, what I will do is liaise with people to book the one to one’s in the first place, and send confirmation of the appointment once it has been made.

He then records his one to one meetings on his iPhone, and sends me the audio which I will transcribe. From this I complete a “file note” for him, which will be attached to the individual’s record on his CRM and forwarded to them as well. This is to allow them to confirm that he has understood precisely what they do in their business and what sort of opportunities or referrals they are looking for.

I will then add their details in to a database so that in 11 months we will make contact again to arrange another one to one.

Referrals

When he is handed a referral or lead he will always pass me the details so that I can make the initial contact. I will find out precisely what is required, and pass over any information that the prospect needs to be able to make a decision.

If a meeting needs to be arranged, I will schedule it.

From there, the client handles everything else himself.

This is an approach that works perfectly for him, but might not be ideal for everyone. However, I hope it gives you some idea of how outsourcing some tasks could take the pressure off you, and allow you to be more efficient at work.

If you want to have a chat about how you could improve things in your office, why not give me a call on 0161 883 2024 or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk

How to Build Trust Online

For the last two weeks we’ve been talking about the importance of building the “know, like and trust” factor online.  So far we’ve given tips on how get known for your content, and how to build likeability through all your online activities.

 

This week it’s the turn of trust.

 

Everything we’ve suggested so far has been leading up to this bit.  It’s all well and good being known, and people being aware of you, and it’s great if they like you and want to interact with you – but if they can’t trust you?  Well, they’re not going to buy from you or recommend you further down the line.

 

We all know that trust is earnt, and there’s no reason why you can’t build that online.  Here are our top tips for precisely how to do that.

 

#1 – Give stuff away

We’ve already touched on this previously, but giving stuff away is a great way to tackle all three building blocks of successful networking.  Sharing your best content (there’s so much free stuff on the web, please don’t give people rubbish) will show that you’re authentic, but equally it will show you value your audience.

 

Giving stuff away means you’re generous, and not just in it for the sales.

 

#2 – Don’t disappoint

We can debate all day about how often you should post on social media or update your blog, but the reality is an arbitrary number means nothing if you’re not going to stick to it.  If you say you’re going to post a video every day – do it.  Going to produce a weekly blog?  Do it!

 

If you put it out there and then start breaking your promises, you’re already showing that you can’t be relied on to deliver.

 

#3 – Be consistently good

Following on from consisting posting, your posts also need to be consistent.  People need to know what they’re going to get from you – your content has to be of the same standard throughout.  Don’t just throw something together because it’s got to be done, take your time to craft a specific message, and keep it inline with what you’ve offered before.

 

If people know what to expect from you then they’re more likely to come to you before going anywhere else.

 

#4 – Share testimonials

It’s easy for any of us to say wonderful things about ourselves, so occasionally let a third party vouch for you.  Share testimonials, and let other people use their own words to demonstrate how you add value, or provide great customer service.

 

Try to mix it up a bit – is there any way you can use a case study to really make an impact?  How about getting someone on video talking about why they love working with you or using your products?

 

#5 – Avoid jargon

 

We can all be guilty of it at times, using industry jargon, and forgetting that other people might now know what the Hell we’re talking about. People can smell BS a mile off, even online so it’s vital you don’t try to hide behind complicated and technical language.  Make sure you are approachable, clear, concise and easy to understand.  Never talk down to your audience, and always be happy to answer their questions and explain yourself when needed.

 

#6 – Apologise when you’re wrong

 

No one is perfect, and there are times you’re going to make a mistake.  It might be a faulty product, a poor service, whatever; when you make a mistake put your hands up and admit to it.  We are all human, so the error is never really the problem, it’s always the way you handle it that matters.

 

Don’t try to hide from the fact you got something wrong, use it as an opportunity to review your processes, and work out how you can avoid that issue arising again in the future.  Those who have been impacted are likely to forgive you a lot quicker if you embrace the situation, and use it as a catalyst for change.

 

 

Remember, Time Saving Heroes offer a wide variety of content writing services as well as social media management. We’re happy to have a chat and give you tips on what you can do to improve your offering for your audience, so pick up the phone and give us a call on 0161 883 2024.

How to Build Likability Online

Last week we wrote about networking, and the importance of building the “know, like and trust” factor, and how that translates to online relationships.  We gave seven tips on how to build awareness via your content, whether that be your website, blog or social media activities.

 

This week we thought we’d look at building your likability online.

 

How likable you are really does matter when it comes to the buying process.  If you’re faced with two identical products, offered at an identical price who you purchase from will come down to personal preference. If one person is boring, difficult to communicate with and leaves you feeling uninspired and the other is open, friendly and engaging – who are you going to go with?

 

Some people are great in face to face situations, but often struggle to translate that in to online personality, which is a problem when it comes to relying on social media marketing.  Here are our top tips on demonstrating your likeability factor in a virtual world.

 

#1 – Be authentic

So many people think they can hide behind corporate personas and behave in ways they think they should behave in.  Nobody actually buys that, because what people are actually looking for is authenticity.

 

Your business is a brand, and as such it has a personality.  Let that shine through in every single piece of content you put out.  Be you, be real and be proud of what you stand for.  Create all your content in your own unique voice – just because a competitor is stale and dull and hides behind anonymity, doesn’t mean you have to.  Break your industry standard!

#2 – Be nice

Really this should be obvious, but so many people fall in to the trap of letting this one slip.  Don’t badmouth other people, no matter how tempting it might be.  A competitor might have made an error, but don’t ridicule them for it – maybe offer a viewpoint as to how the error could have happened, and what could be done to avoid it in future.  Don’t criticise.

 

Equally, be generous with your time, responsive and helpful to those who get in touch with you.

 

#3 – Initiate conversation

Ask your audience to get involved when you put out content.  Invite comments on blog posts, ask questions, look for opinions.  Remember, if you get feedback, in any form, make sure you respond to it.  Conversation really is two-way!

 

#4 – Be visible

Words are brilliant, and a great way to share information but make sure you are visible in every format.  Make the most of checkins, and Google+ hangouts, add video (both pre-packaged and live streaming), consider including podcasts and photos.  Mix it up a bit so you can appeal to everyone, and then you’ve got a better chance to analyse what is, and isn’t working.

 

Variety does make you far more interesting, and helps build likeability.

 

#5 – Put a face to the brand

It’s really hard to like a logo, people like people, so make sure your face is out there.  If you’re a larger business and have a team behind you, get some group shots, showcase your individual employees and make sure you tell your story in all About Us sections.

 

Let people in, show them what happens behind the scenes, give them sneaky peaks of your daily work life, what makes you tick, the things you love, the things you don’t, your annoyances, your highlights … let them in.

 

#6 – Get the mix right

Your marketing strategy should be 80% relationship building and 20% selling.  Some argue the ratio should be as high as 95% to 5%.  A lot will depend on you, your brand and your audience; however, it should never be less than 80% focussed on your audience. NEVER!

 

#7 – Be generous

Your content strategy shouldn’t just be about your content.  Make sure you share other people’s ideas and content too.  It really annoys me when people complain no one is sharing their content, when they don’t do it either.  Honestly, what do you expect?!

 

Think about the things your audience would find useful, and share third party information, offers etc surrounding that.  It really does make a huge difference, and the law of reciprocation means people will catch on and return the favour, eventually.

 

 

Remember, Time Saving Heroes offer a wide variety of content writing services as well as social media management. We’re happy to have a chat and give you tips on what you can do to improve your offering for your audience, so pick up the phone and give us a call on 0161 883 2024.

How to Get Known Online

Our Lu is the current Chair of Bury Business Group, the oldest and largely networking group in the Bury (Greater Manchester) area.  One thing that is key to successful networking is establishing the “know, like and trust” factor.  If people get to know you, they get to like you (hopefully) and ultimately they can trust you to do a good job.  All of that means they’re likely to use your services themselves, but even more importantly, will recommend you to their friends and family.

 

Most people understand that when it comes to physical face-to-face networking, but move that online, and all logic seems to go out the window.  Social media marketing, content marketing – whatever you want to call it, is absolutely no different.  You have to put the work in to be consistent, and show that people can know, like and trust you.

 

How do you do that when it comes to content?  If you’ve started a blog, or are thinking about creating one for your business, how do you build those relationships in a virtual world?  Here’s our top tips for getting a good online reputation.

 

#1 – Know who you’re talking to

Too many people think that because they’re content is going out online they’re talking to everyone.  In theory, your content has that potential, anyone can stumble across something you share; however, you’re not trying to appeal to everyone.  You cannot sell to everyone.

 

Here you need to be very clear about your buyer persona’s. Who is your target audience, what do they want to hear and read about, what interests them, and what products or services are they likely to want from you?  Make sure your content is tightly centred around them. Be completely specific!

 

#2 – Be an expert

One of the best things about blogs is that it allows you to express an opinion within a chosen field or topic, and as such you can exert yourself as an expert. However, giving your opinion isn’t enough. Give your ideas names and labels, really come up with something unique, rather than just spouting industry givens and common knowledge. Do something to really make YOU stand out, so you can become a thought leader.

 

#3 – Create the right content

No matter how tight your buyer persona is, and how on point you believe you are, the best thing you can do is actually ask your audience what it is they want to get from you.  Do your research, ask questions, dig that little big deeper to really understand your actual audience.  You may even find that you’re attracting a completely different market, and that’s one you can work with.

 

#4 – Create a free product

Yes, we know you want to make sales off the back of your blog, and you can, but one of the best ways to do that is to create a free product that you can distribute easily.  What problems do your target audience have, and how can you help them with that?  Create eBooks, newsletters, courses, top tips, podcasts, how-to videos and so on that your loyal followers have access to. Ask them to sign up, and from there you can create a database of people to reach out to (just make sure you are compliant under the new GDPR regulations).

 

#5 – Build relationships

It goes without saying that you should be building relationships with your audience, taking the time to actually connect with them rather than simply throwing content out there, but that’s not the only thing you should do.  Make sure you’re following key influencers in your market and industry, connect with them, comment on their content, share their content, interact and build relationships with them, too.

 

That doesn’t mean you have to be a suck-up and start virtually stalking these people, but get involved in genuine conversations.  Ask questions, and encourage interaction.  This is a great way to get noticed, and could lead to some interesting debates and further content to put out.

 

#6 – Interview the experts

Following on from the above point, if you can build relationships with key influencers, you may be able to interview them as part of your content.  That way you can tap in to their audience in a big to increase your own.  Everyone benefits from increased exposure, and your audience will enjoy seeing something different and having an alternative perspective.

 

#7 – Guest blog

Guest blogging on other sites is a great way to further expand your own audience and reach.  Showing that you’re not the only one who values your opinion, but being invited to share content on someone else’s platform is a further example of social proof, and will definitely do you and your brand no harm.

 

 

Remember, Time Saving Heroes offer a wide variety of content writing services as well as social media management. We’re happy to have a chat and give you tips on what you can do to improve your offering for your audience, so pick up the phone and give us a call on 0161 883 2024.

An open letter to the Door to Door Sellers of LinkedIn

Hi

I hope you’re having a great day.

My day was going great until I got an invitation to connect from you. I admit I didn’t recognise your name so I went to your profile to see if I could find out anything helpful. It turns out we have various mutual connections, and for me, that provides you with a degree of legitimacy.

So, I accepted.

I’d barely clicked “accept” before I received another notification – you’d sent me an InMail.

Now, I’m a fairly realistic individual. I know I’m awesome to be around and am generally a good person, but even I know nobody is waiting with baited breath to get in direct contact with me. The speed with which that message comes through would give most people whiplash, which tells me one thing; you’re a salesperson.

Yes, I know we’re all “salespeople”, in the strictest sense of the word – why else be on LinkedIn in the first place? However, you’re one of those salespeople.

With trepidation I open the message and yes, there it is, the generic sales pitch.

Sigh.

Within 60 seconds of accepting your request I have already removed you as a contact. OK, so it’s a minor waste of my time, and a constant source of irritation but in all honesty, I just feel sorry for you.

Despite the fact you think you’re a hot shot with your 500+ connections, I assure you, you’re doing LinkedIn all wrong.

If you have to send a generic pitch to every single new contact without actually reaching out first, then there is something wrong.

This approach is exactly the same as the person who attends a physical networking event and spends the entire time collecting business cards and talking at other people. These people don’t get invited back for a second time, and people avoid their calls. The rest of us, who have mastered the art of conversation and relationship building talk about you when you’re not there, and warn other people to stay clear.

The simple truth is we should all treat our connections like gold. The people you spend time with, whether that be in real life or the virtual world, should be your tribe. They have your back, they cheer you on, they support you and you can learn from them. They are not simply people to sell to and then spit out once you’ve got your pound of flesh.

Spamming people on LinkedIn (and yes my friend, that is exactly what you are doing) is the modern day equivalent of traditional cold calling. I’m not naïve enough to think it doesn’t work, occasionally. For every 20 people that ignore you, one might bite and with your relentless enthusiasm you may well close a deal one day. However, I assure you there is so much more to gain by playing the long game and actually remembering to be social when using social media.

LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to build relationships, whether that be from scratch or to enhance existing ones. The only way to do that is to take your time, be useful to others and always be considerate and respectful.

If you can’t manage that, be quiet. And stay the Hell out of my inbox!