B2B Executive’s How-to Guide to Social Business

B2B Executive’s How-to Guide to Social BusinessThe B2B Executive’s How-to Guide to Social Business is an executive primer on developing B2B relationships much faster and cheaper.

If you have been on several “social media” platforms as a firm or individual for some time but feel that you’re barely scratching the surface, this guide will help you boost your results significantly because: its goal is to help you develop B2B relationships more efficiently, instead of “selling” yourself and it shows you how to use B2B-oriented platforms in concert to increase leverage. If you would like some background on the profound distinction between “selling” yourself and focusing on relationship, “Social Business Disruption of B2B Sales & Marketing” crystallizes it in 8 minutes.

I’ll risk stating the obvious here because there seems to be extensive confusion around it with respect to social technologies: whether you are across the table or on Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter or the telephone, the core “activity” is relating to people. Social technologies give us more options for how we do the mechanics, but the core things remain:

  • How much and under what conditions can I trust you?
  • Do you care about me?
  • Are you really trying to be helpful, or are you just trying to seduce me into “doing business”?

Here’s the kicker: the major difference when interacting online is that everybody sees, so our behavior harnesses the network effect. Therefore, if I’m being a faker to someone, everyone sees. If I’m genuinely helping someone, my reputation can increase quickly. Stop and think about this a minute. It is changing the world. Profoundly.

B2B Social Business Bootcamp

You can complete this bootcamp as quickly as you want, and in the order that makes the most sense to you, although I’ve organized the five modules in the order that will probably be most effective for most people. The bootcamp is based on CSRA’s client work with Fortune-50 enterprises, governments and hundreds of individual B2B executives.

  1. Use the Relationship Value Map to organize your “connections,” whether they’re in your address book, LinkedIn, Goldmine, Salesforce, etc.
    • Like any undertaking, this could be daunting, but don’t let it be.
    • Do it one piece at a time. Start with LinkedIn.
    • Also, expect to tweak each vector’s milestones after you’ve used them on a couple groups.
    • It doesn’t have to be perfect.
    • If you find the Relationship Value Map too industrial strength, here’s an alternative approach that can get you to a similar destination.
    • Once you have tagged most of your Connections Q2, Q3, Q4, etc., play with the groups; select Q3 and search for keywords.
    • Note that, unfortunately, when you search your Connections in LinkedIn’s address book view, it only searches their “headlines,” not their profiles.
    • Alternatively, use Advanced Search (“people”), constrain results to 1st level Connections and type in multiple keywords. Advanced Search is Boolean, so try, “healthcare OR hospital OR pharmaceutical AND innovation”). In text edit, make a note of the people that appear; then you can create targeted groups and message people from within the address book—when you post questions in LinkedIn Answers or ask them to participate in LinkedIn Polls, for example.
  2. Use LinkedIn to interact, develop relationship and increase trust.
    • By using LinkedIn’s various tools to interact meaningfully, you will increase your relevance and trust level with the people you care about—much more quickly than any other method.
    • Don’t get bogged down by trying to do too much as once; approach LinkedIn interacting in stages; it will seem like it takes a long time at first, but that’s your mental resistance talking; once you develop routines, you can expand easily.
  3. Leverage your firm’s (or individual) thought leadership by blogging, which is the strong theme in Social Business Services’ B2B Case Studies. Our Executive’s Guide to Blogging will have your firm outperforming quickly.
    • Note that this is also best approached in stages, but keep the big picture in mind, so you can chart your progress.
    • All B2Bs have extensive thought leadership they can share with blogs; this is much more powerful than you probably appreciate; the very knowledge that attracts prospects the most is locked up within your “knowledge owners” and inaccessible. Blogs are perfect for sharing some of this knowledge, so prospects can discover you.
    • Our case studies bring this point home, time after time. We add more often.
  4. Open up a new “micro channel” to your clients and prospects, which, in B2B usually means Twitter. Our Twitter bootcamp will have your team using Twitter like a pro.
    • Many B2B executives have been on Twitter and have abandoned it, but adoption continues. Remember, even if only 10% of your prospects are on Twitter occasionally, you can create an ultra-efficient channel with them that your competitors probably aren’t using. And more people adopt every month.
    • Twitter is also another distribution channel for your LinkedIn Answers, LinkedIn Polls, blog posts, etc.
    • Twitter helps search engines find you.
    • Most social business/networking applications and venues automatically publish to Twitter, so once you set it up, there’s no incremental work.
  5. Other platforms:
    • As much as I love and use Google+, I don’t recommend it to connect with B2B executives in traditional industries. It is beyond their patience in 2012. However, if you want to connect with (Silicon) Valley thought leaders, entrepreneurs and related people, it’s exceptional. Read our posts to learn more.
    • Facebook can be very relevant, too, but it’s best used as a supplement, to get to know people better, and not as a primary channel for connecting with B2B prospects. Read our posts here to learn more.

Wrapping Up

  • As I wrote in 2009, social technologies will have a profound impact on human productivity, and this guide will get you outperforming your competitors. I have attempted to chunk many of the core activities of CSRA’s client work into actionable steps you can pursue on your own; please post questions in comments below.
  • One of the best metaphors I have to describe socialtech’s impact is Ford’s assembly line, which transformed how all products were made and led to immense Industrial Economy wealth. Socialtech will be the Knowledge Economy’s productivity machine because the tools digitize sociality and relationship.
  • Your firm can create immense advantage by moving first.

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