How to Break the Ice and Turn Your Readers Into Network Connections...


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Someone just read and shared your thought leadership online. The person looks like a great potential connection, so now what?

The thought of moving audience engagement from the virtual to real world need not make your palms sweat. Here are some easy ways to follow up with your online readers (many of whom show themselves when they share and discuss your work on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and elsewhere):

  • Get connected: connect with your reader(s) on LinkedIn and Twitter. Among other things, this enables you to learn more about their specific areas of interest and expertise. If the relationship develops, this keeps you a step ahead on what you actually know about them.
  • Say hello: sometimes that's as easy as quick thank you note for mentioning or sharing your content online (keep in mind: often their 'share' is public; there's nothing odd about following up with appreciation). Or, peruse their recent shares to develop a sense of how their interests intersect with your firm's expertise. Your earliest interactions might be as simple as "liking" something they shared that resonates with you.
  • Consider a 'real world' visit: will your new reader be attending an industry conference or firm-hosted presentation? Make it a point to meet up! Send a note offering to meet during a networking break for coffee, or over lunch - or afterwards for drinks or dinner.
  • Follow up with new work: "Given your interest in my previous piece, I thought you might like to see my follow up..." If you have new work, share it directly with your reader. (As my colleague Adrian Lurssen has written: one goal should be turn people who have discovered your work into habitual readers. This is how you do it.)
  • Get introduced  (if needed): do you know someone who may be able to introduce you directly to your new reader? a colleague, a former classmate, someone in your network? Ask for that introduction! And make it reciprocal. The true power of networking is not just who you meet, but also who you help. Use this new readership for networking growth in both directions.

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Once you have connected in an appropriate manner with your new reader(s), stay in touch. This means, among other things:

  • Add them to your CRM/Database/Outlook/Rolodex
  • Make sure they are included in your company email list for future alerts or other email communication
  • If you send holiday or other regular touches by mail, determine if they belong on this list
  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile, Twitter profile, BIO page and other online resources where clients might connect with you are updated with current contact information and professional summary. Make it easy for someone to reply in the manner most suited to their habits (which may be different from yours!).

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[Paul Rypleswki is VP of Client Services at JD Supra.]