We’ve almost completed our series on the importance of building community in blogging. Today we’re covering the seventh step. This post will be geared toward professionals with B2B services OR who offer both B2B and B2C services or products but understand this post is going to speak solely to B2B prospecting.
The seventh step I mentioned is to visit the blogs and social media accounts of those you’d like to see interact with your blog, specifically prospective clients. This works in the small business world, with solopreneurs, and with bloggers in general, but will not be effective if your targeting large corporations, as typically their community engagement professionals are looking for their interests and engage only with comments and with people they would like to network with. They typically aren’t worried about the folks who want to network with them nor are they going out to see the background of folks who are commenting on their social media and blogs because there are just too many of them to do so. (If a large corporation is in your target audience, identify who you need to reach out to and try networking with them through LinkedIn to get them to notice you as you’ll have more luck to connect with an individual than the blog.
Now that the caveat is out of the way let’s discuss this step.
When you know you would like to work with someone and they haven’t already been over to your blog or engaged with you through social media, it’s good to go out and engage with them. Visit their IG (I find this to be the best platform for engagement with bloggers, solopreneurs, and socially responsible small businesses, as they are on there and looking to gain followers so they tend to engage more with their audience there), LinkedIn, and blogs.
Follow them on Instagram, like and comment on their pictures. Call them out in posts on your own posts when applicable. Repost their posts if they share something your audience would find helpful. At times our clients can learn from one another, so don’t assume just because this is a prospective client they aren’t sharing anything that another client may find beneficial. Some of my small business clients have benefited from one another’s services many times over because they work in the same or complementary industries.
Follow them on LinkedIn to see what they are posting, engage with their posts by reading their updates and commenting with what you learned or liked about them. (I find it’s best to connect with individuals when possible on LinkedIn.) If they have articles they have posted, share the ones that would be good for your connections to see. Share their statuses if they are public and make your own observation about them (keep it positive!).
You can also try FaceBook but really folks really don’t seem to be doing a lot on FaceBook anymore due to having to pay to be seen. I’ve noticed a lot of the smaller businesses tend to just share their posts from IG over to FaceBook and then post a few random posts directly to FB. They engage if you post but it isn’t their highest priority. It could be different in your industry though.
Last but not least, follow their blog, engage with posts, start sharing them on your own blog (links to them or resharing the post and adding your own feedback IF they allow it (sites such as WordPress allow a “PressThis” option where you can share an excerpt of another bloggers post to get them more visibility). Never share a post without adding some type of comment about why you are sharing it. This practice is limited to sites who are known for this, such as recipe sharing blogs and best practices blogs.
Unlike when you are trying to network with someone, reaching out to prospects involves ensuring they need your product or service. Since this is a social strategy similar to “cold calling”, you may not always be aware right away of the person’s needs. If you don’t establish connection with them through social media or their blog, try reaching out through email first and then calling. You aren’t known to them, so share information that is helpful and ensure you follow all applicable email laws if you reach out via email. DO NOT SPAM ANYONE.
Reaching out to a prospect can be scary for many business owners. I don’t like sales at all. I loved having a business that was all word of mouth when I was working with more well-known authors in the ghostwriting space. After I put that down due to really enjoying working with first-time and up-and-coming Christians and also wanting to focus more of my time on blogging for small businesses, solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, I realized I had to actually start marketing my business and it was frightening. So frightening that I self-sabotaged for a couple years and started working in corporate America again as a Account Manager just to avoid having to reach out to new people! Don’t do that to yourself! It’s not that awful – trust me… when you are cut out to run your own business and have a creative flair, corporate America can suck your soul from your body even when you really enjoy your job (as I did).
Instead of self-sabotaging or remaining where you are sales wise, read some business books and learning the art of negotiation and sales. Here are some of my favorites FYI: this blog isn’t monetized; links are for your convenience not my financial benefit):
Also listen to podcasts and read blogs that discuss sales and leadership, as leading well with the clients you have (if appropriate to your business) can be helpful with sales as well. Here are some suggestions to check out and see which ones you like.
And finally, ask for referrals. Reach out to friends and family who may know people or businesses who can benefit from your services. You never know who people know until you ask.