84% of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral. Contrast this with the 4.4% e-mail open rates. Furthermore, compare it to the 1-3% cold calling success rate.
These numbers leave little room for doubt: More referrals = more qualified opportunities = more sales.
So, how do you get more referrals? In the digital age, the answer is LinkedIn. You build your LinkedIn network, and increase your Reach.
NOTE: This is part 2 of a 3-part series on utilizing LinkedIn. Part 1 covered Profiles. Focusing on Reach and Referrals is foolish without a solid profile. Start there, and then move into Reach.
LinkedIn Profiles, Reach & Referrals is how you make your number in 2014.
High-Quality + High-Quantity = Reach
There are two aspects to developing strong Reach on LinkedIn. These aspects are quality and quantity. To have world-class Reach you need both in spades.
- Quantity: When considered on its own, the “quantity” aspect is pretty straightforward. In order to expand your network, you need to connect with lots of people. More connections increase the chance you’ll have an “in” with potential buyers. Your goal should definitely be to exceed the 500+ connection threshold. If you aren’t there yet, get to work. If you’ve reached that threshold, keep going!
- Quality: This is where things get tricky. Go to your LinkedIn page, and examine your 500+ connections. Who are they? If 300 of those connections are family and college friends, you’re in trouble. The chances of these connections acting as a referral are very slim. Narrow your focus to primarily business contacts. Think about the networking you’ve done in person. Reach out to those people. Remember: low-quality connections are the same as no connections at all. To be worthy of your network, connections must add value. If they don’t, move on to someone else. This is the key to developing a strong Reach.
Who You Know > What You Know
Tag Your Connections – SBI has written before about Tagging Your Connections. This is a LinkedIn feature that I can’t stress enough. Tagging your connections helps you understand your network. It also helps you pinpoint where your network is lacking. This is what Reach is all about – building more quality connections. Tagging allows you to discover your Reach strengths and weaknesses all at once. This will help you decide where to place your network-building efforts in the future.
Is one of your buyer personas a CEO? If so, you better be connected to lots of C-Level professionals. If you aren’t sure whether or not this is the case, look at your tags. How many CEOs do you see tagged? If you don’t have many, start brainstorming today. How can you connect with more CEOs? Or, how can you connect with people who can refer you to CEOs? This is all part of the process. Follow this line of thinking with tagging and networking. Before you know it, your Reach will be off the charts.
Bottom line for 2014: the buyer has evolved. The old “tried and true” techniques don’t work anymore. We need to adapt with the buyer. Embrace Social Selling and increase your LinkedIn Reach.
Once your Profile and Reach are mastered, you can start leveraging them. This is what we will discuss next time. Start making LinkedIn work for you with referrals and more opportunities.