The LinkedIn Cold Call

Let's pretend it's 1994, before everyone had an e-mail address and LinkedIn did not exists. A sales rep (name Alex) just attended a training session lead by a self proclaimed guru and cold call expert. Alex could not wait to get back to the office to try out all the "amazing breakthrough" techniques he learned.

One of those techniques included asking someone to coffee or lunch the moment they connect via phone.

Alex decided to call Samantha, a potential customer. They have never met but Alex knows that they have several people in common so this should be an easy way to try out the guru's advice. 

The phone rings and Samantha recognizes the area code because she has friends from that particular city. 

Samantha: Hello, this is Samantha.

Alex: Hi Sam, this is Alex from Acme Inc. We know the same 20 people, let's get lunch. I want to get your thoughts on everything that you know. Also, I need your help on a project I'm working on and I want to sell you my services.

Samantha is baffled and a little creeped out. She's doesn't know who Alex is and has never heard of his company. The fact that they know 20 people does not help earn the trust. The rest of the conversation is awkward and Sam rushes off the phone. That icky feeling sticks and the damage is done, she will never do business with Alex or Acme Inc.


Twenty years later, this happens every day on LinkedIn.

The cold call is dead but there are a lot of misguided gurus still teaching the same techniques through these "new" communications channels. However, the social media channels require a different approach. 

We're in the trust economy now.

No trust, no sale.




How to NOT be creepy on LinkedIn


All relationships, whether they're professional or personal, require courtship. Yes, it takes time and is not always easy. There's no magic bullet that builds trust.

Also, don't be creepy about it. People don't like that.

Find Something in Common

What common interests do you have with the person you're trying to court? The fact that you know 20 people doesn't mean much. How do you two know those people? What are the common denominators in those relationship? Do your homework. 

Provide Value

Stop asking people for things (time, money, ideas, etc.) before you have given them something first. Give to give, not give to get. Providing value builds trust. Just don't be creepy about it. Don't overload them with information and make sure that the value you provide is specifically targeted towards that person

Get Referred by a Common Connection

LinkedIn has this handy dandy feature where someone you are connected with can refer you to someone who they're connected to. This is a less creepy way to connect with someone you don't know and comes with automatic trust that their friend will not refer someone who has no reason for connecting with them. This can also be achieved at networking events through introductions, or Twitter, or Facebook messages, etc. A referral is worth its weight in gold.


There's nothing wrong with asking someone to coffee or lunch to get to know each other better. Build the trust first, prove to the person that you're not a serial killer or trying to get into their proverbial and/or literal pants. There IS a better way to do it than to "cold call" someone on LinkedIn because some guru told you it works.


People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Be that person.




Social Selling & Your Personal Brand: Cleaning up Social Profiles


Social selling and personal branding go hand-in-hand so the first step in social selling is to develop a credible personal brand.  

But what does it entail?

It entails cleaning up your social networks by removing unfavorable content of yourself and replacing it with favorable content.  You are your own brand and need to treat your image as such. 




Google Yourself

Do a web and an image search.  Include geo tags in your search if you have a common name (i.e. John Smith Charlotte, NC). 

Check out my post on why you should Google yourself for more information on what to do.




Oh, Facebook.  You either love it or hate it and even if you hate it you probably have an account.

The first thing to tackle is your privacy settings and simultaneously create friend lists.  Make sure that the information that needs to be private is private and your settings allow you to approve content when your friends tag you prior to it showing up on your profile.  You can read more about Facebook privacy settings here.

Personally, my Facebook is account is well… personal.  I am currently in the process of building my Facebook Page where I can share public updates that anyone can follow, allowing me full control over my personal brand on Facebook.  I recommend the same for those with rich Facebook profiles (i.e. so much content that it will take forever to clean up). 


I signed up for Twitter in 2008 when most people didn’t know what it was and what it was for.  I thought it was just another place to post status updates in 140 characters or less.  My postings were uncensored and are nothing that I would want anyone to see today.  Today, my first account is private and I do not post to it anymore.  I also keep my personal and professional accounts separate allowing me to keep my postings directed at the right audiences.  My daily use of Twitter has changed dramatically in five years and has been a powerful networking tool.  

Other social networks

Whether it’s MySpace, Instagram, Google+, a blog or whatever else that may have unfavorable content… clean it up!  When in doubt, delete.


If you have a large foot print online or the thought of going through all your profiles seems daunting, don’t fret.  There are dozens of tools that can help you with the task but my two favorites are SimpleWash and Social Safe.

SimpleWash – allows you to search for specific words that you would like to remove from your profile.  Links directly to each post making it easy to manage.  Works with Facebook and Twitter. [Free]

Social Safe – the service is not free but allows you to download and see all of your posts across all social networks in chronological order. [Free 60 day trial]

Just because you’ve clean up your profile does not mean you can’t be yourself.  Just keep in mind that there are some things that you should not post.  For a list of things to keep to yourself, check out Jeff Bullas’ list of 30 things you should not share on social networks

Your customers are everywhere, make sure all your profiles are clean, complete, and professional.  Be credible.  People buy from people they like, know, and trust. 

Further reading:

It’s time to dust the cobwebs and drunk college pics off your social media profiles
4 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Social Media Profile
Clean Up Your Facebook Profile
Facebook: Defriending on the Rise


4 Ways to Stay Top of Mind on LinkedIn

1. Sharing valuable and insightful content

“Top of mind” was one of the points I tried to drive home during the social selling training at our National Sales Conference.  It’s one thing to have a complete LinkedIn profile; it’s another to provide insights to your network with content and engage them in conversation.  But you have to be careful not to assume that “top of mind” means constantly posting crap just to stay visible.  There’s nothing worse than annoying your network.  Be relevant and practice constraint (there are apps that can help with that but more on that later).


A few days ago I noticed that LinkedIn has added a new feature on their home page labeled “Who’s Viewed Your Updates.”  This is an exciting new feature because it shows you how many people have seen your update and it allows you to analyze what information your network really wants to see.  That’s powerful information and best of all it’s available for free (detailed insights  are available for premium accounts)!



2. Like, comment and share others’ content

Content is only one part of helping you stay top of mind.  You have to be active by liking and sharing others’ content as well.  My personal rule of thumb is to keep 80% of my likes, shares, and comments specific to my industry and reserve 20% for all other interests. 

3. Endorse and recommend

Regardless of whether you love or hate the feature, endorsements can be a great tool not only as a “feel good” but to also remind someone of your existence. But I must caution you, do not do it just do it and only endorse people for things that you can honestly back up with a true recommendation.  This is why a recommendation is more powerful.  Recommend past colleagues, current colleagues, and customers.  Help others be viewed as experts and rock stars in their field.

4. Set what others see when you’ve viewed their profile to public

There are pros and cons to setting your profile view to public and for the longest time I hid behind the wall of anonymity.  Staying anonymous allowed me to view others’ profiles without their knowledge of who I was and in my past role it was a good way to screen candidates prior to their interview with our company.  Now my profile is set to public and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  This feature allows you to see who has viewed your profile but even more importantly, it allows others to see that you have viewed theirs. 

People do business with people they know, like, and trust.  Sharing content and staying active on social networks helps build your personal brand and helps you stand out as the Subject Matter Expert (SME) amongst a sea of others who do not bring value to their customers and networks.

And remember, it’s not all about you.  Give to give, not give to get.  Your activity should be 90% about others and 10% about you or your company.


Curating Tools:

Some days the relevant content floodgates open up and all you want to do is post it all at once to your networks.  Don’t.  Pick out several gems and post them at different times during the day (again, not all at once).  Save the others for when the waters run dry. 

My favorite tool for curating content for a slow day is  The free account allows you to have five different boards and you can push the article directly to LinkedIn from the site.  A premium account gives you ten boards as well as the ability to schedule posts.

Feedly is another great tool to keep all your RSS feeds in one place and allows you to share directly with your network.  Feedly is also tied to Buffer, an app that allows users to schedule posts. 

These tools allow you to stay top of mind even when you’re away.

How to Create Brand Value

I discovered The Sales Lion about a year ago and have been a huge fan of Marcus Sheridan since that day.  I joke and call it “drinking the Sales Lion kool-aid.”  Do I agree with everything he says?  No.  However, I have a lot of respect for the man for many reasons.  One of those reasons is his passion for inbound and content marketing.

"Drinking the Kool-Aid" means wholeheartedly believing in something.

"Drinking the Kool-Aid" means wholeheartedly believing in something.

In his latest post, The Reality as to Why Most Big Brands Stink at Content Marketing, Marcus writes about big brands not taking the opportunity to teach.  This ties in perfectly with the three main pillars of the Challenger Sale (my other favorite flavor of kool-aid): teach, tailor, and take control. 

According to CEB and The Challenger Sales, our customers are 57% of the way through the buying cycle before they reach out to a supplier for an RFP or a price quote.   And what have they been doing for that 57% of the process?  Learning everything that they can online about a problem or a need that they have.   If you’re not there to educate  your current and future customer, someone else is.

To quote my favorite social selling super star Jill Rowley, “Our customers are having a learning party and we’re not invited.”

Brands and companies that are part of the learning (teaching) party achieve their highest sales potential and experience an increase in their brand value.  They’re earning trust and creating awareness.  And most importantly, they’re not blatantly selling.  Unfortunately, most companies (both large and small) are not teaching their customers and irritating them with useless information.

You’re wasting everyone’s time if you’re not teaching via social networks, your websites, and blogs.

So how do you teach and create a higher brand value?  Inbound marketing and creating AWESOME content that educates your customers.

Tailor the content to different buyer personas, teach the customers through content, and lead (take control of) the customer through the buying process.  Make it easy for them to purchase from you when they are ready.

Stop talking at your customer and start talking with your customers.

Further reading:
CEB Blog (Sales & Service) 
CEB Blog (Marketing & Communications) 
Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Blog 

The Big Push

The big push to get my professional personal brand out there, loud and proud, came this past Tuesday when I participated in a webinar lead by Corporate Executive Board.  The topic was Social Selling, something that I have not had a lot of exposure to and was excited to learn more about the topic. After a couple of slides, Jill Rowley (the Eloqua EloQueen) came on the line and I was immediately sold… on her.  She said a lot of things that resonated with me and in turn I blew up her up Twitter notifications because I wanted to capture as much as possible.  Not only did I learn about how sales reps can use social media but also how to build your personal brand.

[Click on  the image to see more.]

I have a personal brand already, but not on a “professional” one.  It’s how I’ve learned what I know about social media to date.  Like Jill, I’m on my smart phone, checking tweets, instagrams, pinning, etc. when I first wake up, when I have a moment at lunch, and then throughout the evening and right before I go to bed.  Jill also said that she doesn’t believe in work/life balance because she just lives her life.  This made a few of my colleagues cringe but she’s right.  Work doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something you love.  Loving what you do makes a huge difference.  I love social media, I love creating content, I love being a part of this wonderful brave new world.

If you're a member of Corporate Executive Board, you can check out the webinar here.

…and out of hundreds of people on the webinar, my Q&A question was the first to be answered.  Way to make a person feel special!

Jill – thank you for being who you are and being the final push for me to get this “personal branding party” started.

What was your big push or “aha” moment to start building your personal brand?  How did you do it?

Also, check out Dave Cutler’sstory on how he went from fired to hired and Eloqua’s Grange Guide  (eBook) to building your personal brand.