I recently hosted a number of customer webinars on how to use linkedin.com to deepen relationships with existing clients, generate business leads, and get referrals. (Dale Carnegie is not associated with linkedin.com – I created the webinar content from my own experience as a user of linkedin.com.) We got hundreds of people signed-up for each webinar – people ARE indeed interested in learning how to use social media to grow their business. Among the registrants, most of them are “newbies” or casual users of social media sites, which seems to reflect the general usage level of social media among business executives.
What I found most interesting is the feedback I got – people were amazed about the marketing power of social media! Many webinar participants looked me up on linkedin.com to connect with me. Others emailed me and told me they were committed to learning and using more of various social media. Some even shared success stories with me! These are all real, business professionals who are serious about growing their business.
According to a 2008 Epsilon Study, only 10% of Chief Marketing Officers have social media incorporated into their marketing strategy. Yes, social media is still something new to most people in the business world. People are naturally “afraid” of anything new. But with the global economic crisis plaguing most businesses, people are almost “forced” to take a more pro-active approach in marketing, sales, and customer service.
Here are a few things on linkedin.com, among the many, that I have recommended people to try:
1. Create a group for your organization. You can engage your group members in discussions relevant to THEIR needs and YOUR service, deepen your relationships, and show your value-add. Moreover, you will have your group members’ email addresses, so you can ask for their permission to add them to your own marketing list.
2. Participate in the “My Answers” section. See what questions people have posted in your area of expertise – and answer them! If your answers are selected as the “best answers,” you will be shown as an EXPERT and get added exposure. Also, by answering questions of potential customers about their very specific business needs, you have practically established a relationship and have taken an effective first step of your sales process.
3. Ask your connections to “introduce” you to other people in the organization – using the linkedin.com introduction wizard. This is a common practice on linkedin.com and is a great way of getting referrals.
Social media is not THE solution to today’s business challenges, but it can probably complement and supplement most organizations’ existing sales and marketing efforts. Do share with us how YOU are using social media to grow YOUR business!