Don’t Just Post on LinkedIn, Engage! 9/4/2018
Last month we had Jocko Willink speak at ECRM’s Natural, Organic & Specialty Foods session. For those of you who don’t know him, Jocko is a former Navy SEAL commander, NYT bestselling author of Extreme Ownership, and co-host of the Jocko Podcast, which gets approximately 1 million downloads a week. He also recently launched an organic RTD tea, called Jocko White Tea.
Having him at the session was a truly remarkable experience; for his presentation on leadership, all 110 seats in the ballroom were filled, plus there were approximately 40 people standing outside, and he received a standing ovation. And while he didn’t speak about his tea, the presentation no doubt put him front-of-mind with the retailers in attendance.
It was the largest educational session we’ve ever had – and it never would have happened without a conversation that began on LinkedIn.
A few months ago I connected with Emily Page, the founder and CEO of Pearl Resourcing, a product development and packaging design firm, over content we had both been posting. Online discussions moved offline to a phone call, during we discussed some content we could develop together that would serve both of our audiences.
Then I saw her post of Jocko White Tea.
“Is that THE Jocko?” I had read his book a couple of years ago, and was already a big fan. Indeed it was, and not only did Emily handle the product development and packaging for the company, but she was its CEO. As it turned out, the tea was made with certified organic ingredients, was selling well online, and they were ready to take the next step into retail. Our Natural/Organic session just happened to be located just five minutes away from Jocko’s home, and he wasn’t traveling that day, and the stars aligned to make this all happen. She got her tea in front of retailers, and our attendees got one hell of a keynote.
What made this all happen is that our conversations on LinkedIn developed to the point where they eventually moved offline via phone calls, during which our relationship was able to develop.
This sort of thing happens all the time with me and my teammates at ECRM. Content on LinkedIn leads to conversations via LinkedIn messaging, which eventually move off the platform in the form of phone calls or emails and result in business or some other sort of relationship to the benefit of both parties. In fact, it happened again this morning, as a Pet products manufacturer reached out to me on the platform and, following a back and forth conversation on LinkedIn, I connected her directly with our general merchandise team via email.
You’ve likely seen content from myself and other ECRMers on LinkedIn. What’s not as apparent is the fact that we are also actively engaging these retailer and supplier connections in conversations, messaging them, commenting on their posts, creating a dialogue that ends up outside of the platform via a phone call or emails and ultimately ends in their creating a RangeMe profile and then registering for a session -- where our relationship with them eventually becomes face-to-face. It also results in our getting speakers, guest columnists, and insights that help us better serve our customers.
Jocko Willink speaking at ECRM's Natural, Organic & Specialty Foods session in San Diego
But in order to benefit from the platform, you have to work it. And that means a lot more than just posting regular content, though that’s a necessary foundation. You need to engage with the community that you are reaching with this content, i.e., your customers and potential customers.
Like an In-Person Networking Reception
Think of LinkedIn like an in-person networking reception. If you just stand in the corner with your cocktail, nothing is going to happen. It’s when you start conversations with other attendees in the room where the magic begins. Some of these conversations may not bear fruit, but if you have enough conversations with enough people, you’re bound to hit on a few gems worth pursuing further.
The same goes for your LinkedIn connections. You start by engaging with your connections on the platform, communicatiing with those who like or comment on your content, or by commenting on other content posted by those relevant to your business. Sure, this may be a bit tedious, but if someone likes a piece of your content, they are more apt to respond to a quick note. They are active on the platform for the same reason as you are – to further their business – and this is a great way to test the water to see if there is a possible opportunity.
For retailers and brands, LinkedIn is a great complement to building a profile on RangeMe and participating in ECRM sessions. The key to success on the platform is engagement, and then bringing those conversations offline and developing a relationship. (In fact, commenting and sharing some of the content that ECRM and RangeMe regularly post is a great way to "break the ice" with each other!)
Just one note – don’t lead with a pitch. Nothing will push someone away faster than you pitching them after a quick comment. You want to start a dialogue, and focus on what’s important to the other person, not what’s important to you. Thank them for liking your content, or comment about something related to a post of theirs. Once you’re in a conversation you can let them know that you may be able to help them and let it evolve to the point where they ask you for more information.
Eventually, when you do engage with someone on the platform, and there is an opportunity, you want to bring that engagement outside of the platform into a real-time conversation, either on the phone or in-person. That’s where the relationships are developed, and where potential opportunities – like Jocko speaking at our session – come to fruition.
The great thing is, once you have a relationship outside of the platform, the engagement levels of these connections on LinkedIn only increases. Studies have shown that social media engagement from those you’ve met offline is more than four times that of people who only know you on the platform. And when this engagement increases, so will the size of your 1st and 2nd degree networks, which will only add to your opportunities.
One thing is for sure, though. If you don’t put any effort into the platform, you surely won’t get anything out of it.