What LinkedIn Cold Pitchers could learn from PR

Guest blog by Lisa Baker, Editor, Need to See IT Publishing

Tuesday morning, barely out of bed and the LinkedIn messages start:

·         Do you need a proffesssionnal website? (you can’t spell, so no…)

·         I need to contact you about a client who searched for you (a total lie)

·         Do you want we write blogs for you? (…hell no!)

This type of pitching is likely to be fruitless and harmful to your business reputation.  It does, however speak volumes about the person pitching:

·         The website designer just showed me his websites will have typos

·         The finance services company just told me I can’t trust them, and finally

·         The would-be blogger doesn’t speak English well – so cannot possibly write for me.

I could go on with lots more examples and I’d only have to go back a week.

Close behind are the people who ask for your phone number at hello – ‘Hi I’m Joe from xxx, please can I have your phone number, I have a business proposition for you.” 

Some of these pitiful pitches, very obviously copied and pasted, come from staff at large organisations who should know better.

Businesses invest a huge amount in their media relations to build trust, only to have it compromised by these sloppy, lazy approaches on what is supposed to be a professional networking platform.  

Hungry sales people on LinkedIn could learn much by following the approach of a good PR consultant approaching the media. I nearly always respond positively to new approaches from them - and I get new approaches every day.

PR professionals have, over the course of a career, acquired many press contacts.  However, they don’t send out every press release to every journalist they have ever had a conversation with – because they would lose credibility in a heartbeat.   Nor would they send out a cold approach before doing some research into the publication and exploring if their client’s news was relevant. 

PR companies work hard to understand their client, their client’s audience and the publications they work with – and only target publications which speak to the audience.   It takes more time than a scattergun approach, but it delivers controlled, predictable results.

Whether building trust via the media, planning a PR campaign or helping their client write an awards entry, every single step is carefully choreographed to build a brand and cement a good reputation.

Sales People tasked with doing cold calls would do well to take a similar approach. 

If you believe that LinkedIn is the right place for your business, then take a structured approach.

Like the PR professional, it begins with finding the right audience.  Who is your best customer?  What industry/ company size/ locality/job role are they in?  Would they be willing to give a testimonial?  What made them choose you?

When you understand your audience, you can look to attract more people like them – and LinkedIn is one place to find them.  Start to mix with your target audience, use the vocabulary they use, talk about what they talk about – slowly you will earn their trust, and become an expert in your field. 

The scattergun approach, however, should be left at the login.  It’s about them, and what they want to hear, not you and what you want to talk about – they will only listen when you have their confidence, which rarely comes at hello.

Networking meetings are, like good PR, informative, not pushy.  Networking, even online, is supposed to be social.

It can be a great way to build contacts and to do business – but online and offline, the best way to succeed in sales or PR is to understand your audience and deliver what they want.  Start by targeting, and sales will follow.

Mini rant over.

Kay Phelps