Electronic Rapport to Actual Relationships

It’s been clear for a little while now that LinkedIn is the leader in business to business social media.   If your business sells to or buys (or recruits) from other businesses (and that’s everybody) then you have to be on LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is now a business networking imperative.

I love it when the picture becomes this clear.  Now we can move past the uncertainty of whether this is relevant to talking about the strategies we can use to make use of the tool.  We have reached that point.

A strategy that works for me is to use LinkedIn as a bridge from Electronic Rapport to Actual Relationship.  Let me first explains these terms.  Electronic Rapport is a term I’ve coined for nurturing a connection using Search, Web, Email, and Social Media.  Electronic Rapport allows for a safe distance between buyer and seller where both can research and study the viability before investing in an Actual Relationship.  An Actual Relationship occurs when we interact one-to-one either in person, on the phone, or by direct personal email.  An Actual Relationship is what is needed for trusted relationships to be cemented – for larger deals to be done.

Here’s a simple three step process for doing it:

1.  Build out your LinkedIn connection base by inviting prospects using their known email address or group affiliation.

2.  Nurture your connection base with Electronic Messaging both within and without LinkedIn.

3.  Send a simple LinkedIn email to your connections asking for a phone call to get acquainted.

That’s it!  It’s really difficult for someone to be linked into you and then decline having a conversation with you.  Once you’ve completed that interaction, you’ve moved your connection status from Electronic Rapport to Actual Relationship.  At some point as salespeople we have to reach out and have one-on-one discussions to build trusted relationships.  LinkedIn can help!

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