Cold calling and direct mail has had its time in the limelight. Sure – it still works, but you’re competing against more marketers than ever before. Pick up the phone on a cold call, and your customers "human spam shield" goes right up.
If you want to generate new business, it’s time for a fresh approach. Find a need or problem that a customer has, find a solution, reach out to your customer with your solution, and give your customer the confidence that you can deliver.
If you sign up for a premium account, you can send a fixed number of “InMails” each month, i.e. direct messages to people not in your network. Don’t do it! InMails don’t get the response that they used to. They’ve been abused and people have become more and more immune to them.
Instead, use LinkedIn to research potential customers, and then email them directly. Most Companies use one of a handful of naming conventions. If you wanted to contact “John Smith” at “ACME Corp”, then your choices are:
Get on Google, research the company and look at any other email addresses you can find – it’s never too difficult. Send them a nice, friendly email. Keep it short and to the point. 80% of the email should be about them and their needs, and 20% of the email should be about you.
If you're just starting out, give the customer the personal touch of a friendly and approachable freelancer - don't try and act all corporate and formal. It's not difficult to get started as a freelancer and when a customer knows that they're dealing with a real person, it goes a long way to building a long term relationship.
I love Quora. It’s an untapped goldmine of leads. Here you’ve got a very busy site whose sole purpose is giving people a platform to post their questions (problems) and ask for solutions. What more could you want? Here’s my Quora process:
First, search for targeted buying questions. For example; I’m a programmer looking for new opportunities. Lets search for “find great programmers”. Here’s some example questions that come up:
Click the “Following” link, to get a list of other users following this question. They all want the same thing - the details of a great programmer. They're all potential leads!
You can then search Google for their names and company if they list it. If you can’t find anything, do a reverse Google image search on their Quora profile image and see if you can find a blog or profile on a social networking site.
Who are your potential customers, and where do they hang out? Would you find them in Facebook groups, niche forums or LinkedIn groups? Are they avid twitter users or do they spend hours each night scrolling through Reddit threads?
Go to where your customers, join the conversation and add value. Absolutely do not join a new forum or group with the sole purpose of dropping an advertisement or a link to your site/blog. No one likes it, and it’s a guaranteed way to get banned.
Spend some time in the group, get known, learn about the members, their problems and habits. Offer value – write great answers and be as helpful as you can. Later down the line, people will be happy for you to recommend them to your service.
Guest blogging can be a quick and powerful way to get your message in front of lots of eyes. Again, don’t go out looking for guest blog opportunities to drop a 500 word article in about you, your products and how great they are. No decent blog will publish it.
Instead, write a really relevant article that provides value to your specific audience. If the content is good, readers will click through the bio link back to your site. Some of your readers will have sites of their own, and if the content is great – they’ll start linking back to it themselves.
Make sure that the sites you guest post on are highly relevant to your industry. There’s no point in writing generic content on any old site as the traffic you'll get will be untargeted and therefore worthless to you.
Remember - high traffic doesn't build your brand and business - stable, targeted and engaged traffic does.
Doing business on Twitter? Seriously? Absolutely! Not only can you search through tweets for keywords you’re interested in (e.g. “need a programmer”). You’ve also got the option of using hash tags to follow topics you’re interested in. Check out hashtags #hiring, #remote, #help or anything else your customers might be typing when they're in need of your services.
I'll keep it short and sweet - put out great and engaging content, go to where your customers are, interact with them, understand their problems, and be super helpful. That's it! The best thing you can do, right now, is to take action and get started. Don't spend any more time perfecting your website, redesigning your business cards or doing any other "busy work" that doesn't directly generate new relationships and therefore revenue.
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