How to Build a Bigger Network than Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton’s friends and foes alike marvel at his ability to meet and charm people. But before you can charm them, you need to meet, or somehow connect with them. For a startup without a Clintonesque book of names and addresses, that can be tough.
Here are four strategies to build your network of prospects. Some take a little bit of elbow grease, some take a credit card, but in their own way, all are super-efficient, and many are relatively unknown to your competitors. I can confidently say these are efficient because each of the following techniques, strategies or services gives you the power to find, and reach out to people who have the exact interests that virtually define your ideal prospects.
1. The YouTube Hack
YouTube has performed a valuable service for us by allowing individuals to create their own “channels.” This puts prospects in neat little boxes. Further, anyone who takes the time to create a YouTube channel is serious about his or her subject area. If you can match your ideal prospects to one or more YouTube topics, you have a way to reach them.
For example, say you had a product or service that appealed to fishing guides. You might search using a phrase like “where to fish.” Within the YouTube search results select a video author; that will take you to the person’s YouTube channel. Then click “About” and next click “Send Message.” Paste in a prewritten message – perhaps promoting freemium in exchange for signing up on your email list – and send it on its way.
This is the most labor intensive of the tricks I’m presenting here. However, you can outsource this very cheaply. Once you write up a short series of instructions, it’s the ideal project to outsource overseas. It’s just clicking, copying and pasting.
2. The Twitterhack
Twitter users reveal a lot about themselves in the short bios they post on the profile pages…if there were only someway to efficiently search these. Well, there is, and it’s called Followerwonk. This is part of the Mozempire, but even with a free account at Followerwonk, you can mine some insanely valuable information.
I just did my “fishing guide” search of bios on Follwerwonk, and it found 2,398 Twitter users. It delivers search results in groups of 50. At this point, you can simply copy the Twitter handles, paste them into a preformatted message and send that out directly via Twitter or your favorite Twitter client.
This is also something you can farm out for very little expense.
3. Going Old School
Startups often find it to be very tough sledding when they try to make sales and marketing inroads via all the most popular online channels and strategies – SEM, content marketing, PPC marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and the rest. Those fieldsare too crowded with companies that have deep pockets and have leveraged themselves into great search results placement through years of hard work.
However, if you display, give a talk, or present a seminar at a trade show or industry event, you are on equal footing with everyone else. Further, you can make yourself look as big as you want…or can afford.
Before we leave the old school category, let me mention a strategy to use if you connect to a trade show: leverage public relations (PR). Be sure to circulate a press release that touts your appearance whenever you speak or make a presentation.
4. Going High Tech
There are a wide variety of customer relationship management apps and cloud services, and these get written up in spaces like this quite often. You probably know the names, and they are certainly easy to find. They are great, but by themselves they don’t bring people into your network of prospects.
However, a predictive dialing service like the one offered by Calltools can help you make those initial connections, and once you have them, then you can take the next step and dump them into one of the CRM services.
Each of the strategies I outlined here will help you expand your network of prospects and start feeding names into the top of your sales funnel. If you have a little time yourself each day, try the YouTube and Twitter hacks. If you’re a bit more established, or well-funded, hit some trade shows and investigate a predictive dialer.