People ask me all the time about using automation for marketing. Marketing automation is a wonderful way to stay in front of your audience, but when it comes to certain types of marketing it can be “no-no.” There are so many tools that allow you to automate your social media; however, in my opinion, it’s most important to understand the key to the tool you are using. When it comes to social networking, the key phrase here is networking, so automation is a big “no-no” for me.
I was recently asked the following question by one of my clients:
“How do I export my Outlook contacts to import into LinkedIn?”
While this is technically something that can be accomplished, I caution and recommend that you not use this feature.
LinkedIn and other social networking services are all about one-on-one relationships. While the medium for these relationships are shifting, the fundamental rules are still the same: how you connect with people or reintroduce yourself to old colleagues sets the stage for how you see your future relationship and how they will see you.
If you’re like me, your e-mail address book may contain more than 2,000 names. Now be honest… do you remember everyone on that list? Then how can you expect everyone to remember you? Take the time to identify those contacts that could be a good lead or resource for you before you start reaching out.
The biggest complaint I hear from people just getting started on social networks is that they get invites from people they don’t remember or they don’t know. You run the risk with an automated tool of being “rejected” by that contact because you didn’t remind them of how they know you.
Give It a Personal Touch
Think about it: a handwritten letter always carries more weight than an email. In the digital age, these personal touches go a long way and show you care. When using social networking for business, it is just as important to start off on the right foot and take the time to craft a thoughtful message to your contact.
Starting your relationship by recognizing each contact as an individual may take more time, but you will also find that it effectively opens the door to more qualified referral sources.
As an added bonus, taking the time to send each contact an individual message is also a great way to update your current database, which is something that we all should be doing, but often don’t have the time to do!
First Impressions Are Everything
When you use a mass import tool on a social network like LinkedIn or Facebook, you are, in a way, sending the message to your contacts that they are not important enough for you to take the time to write them a personalized message, which can be very damaging to your relationship. With a marketplace this tough and competitive, little personal touches can differentiate you from the pack, something everyone can benefit from.
Use this as an opportunity to review the people you have on your contact list.
Here are my 3 tips on how to get started:
1. Connect with those who you have frequent contact with first. You can write a short note that can be used over and over with little personalized tweaks. Even if you see them or speak to them frequently, a personal note is always appreciated.
It’s been a few years since we last spoke. You were at Company A, and we met through the networking event at SMB. I see that you have moved on to Company B; congrats on your transition! I would appreciate the opportunity to reconnect and see if we have new synergies. Please review my profile, and we can schedule a time to follow up if you see the value in reconnecting.
Notice I put an action item in the email. This opens the door for you to do a follow up once your request to connect has been accepted.
3. After you have sent messages to those you have synergies with, you may want to go back and look through the other contacts in your list. Identify how you know people and reconnect with a goal in mind.
Be open. Are you looking to expand your network, or just rebuild old connections? When you send your invitations, you may want to explain you’re a new LinkedIn user and you’re looking to reconnect with people you met offline. You may find people’s jobs or needs have changed and you may just be the resource they are looking for.
Make a Lasting Impression.
Social tools work most effectively when users understand that they’re about building strong, memorable relationships on an individual level. Tools like LinkedIn may make it easy to reconnect or forge new relationships with the click of a mouse, but how you do it is the key to long-term success. Now is the time to make yourself more memorable and grow your network, and there is no simpler and more effective way than making the extra effort to be personal and sincere.