Endaf is sales manager of an exhibition called Internet World and also contributes to the Internet World blog. He has expanded his professional network through this LinkedIn group, building up his social capital by encouraging quality discussions and posting useful links.
A high profile social media expert has just joined the group. Endaf wanted to contact the guy. But, what is the etiquette? I suggested that the expert’s membership of the group explicitly acknowledged that first contact could be made through LinkedIn . Endaf did so.
I therefore asked him to give us some tips on how to develop a relationship on LinkedIn and then to convert it into a telephone conversation.
The LinkedIn Future of Social Media group now has over 600 members from around the world. The success is a challenge, putting pressure on me to ensure that new discussions are worthy of the members, adding and linking to good quality news stories and encouraging leading social media commentators to get involved (here’s some tips on how to manage a LinkedIn group yourself).
What would happen if I were to try to contact one of the members, a leading social media guru? I took the plunge and emailed the guy. The end result was a perfectly business-like conversation where he gave me several contacts that will be useful for the group.
What are my tips?
- Whenever anyone signs up to your group or accepts your contact request, follow up with a welcome to the group. Here’s a great guide to LinkedIn etiquette.
- Make sure that there is a constant flow of high quality white papers or other relevant content posted.
- Encourage discussions and commenting. Do it yourself if necessary.
- Once you are ready to email directly, do not be overawed by someone’s reputation.
- Explain in an email why you are interested in connecting with them, who you are and what you have to offer.
- Be concise but make it clear why you want to talk. You need to be ready to do that “Elevator Pitch” (how would you tell someone what you do and how great you are - in the time it takes for a lift to travel between floors).
- Set up a call. So much of the initial groundwork has been done through social media that you don’t need an introduction.
- I invited the four contact suggested by the social media expert to my group, the process of expanding and improving my group then repeating itself ad infinitum.
Social media has to prove its ROI(return on investment). Proving that running a group can expand a business network is a key indication of success. Endaf might well have been doing this within a social media environment today. But, all businesses will be expanding their networks through social media as it expands beyond early adopters into business generally - what social media expert Peter Kim calls social business.
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