Networking has always been essential to growing your personal and professional brand. But for introverts like me, networking, especially the sales prospecting and nurturing variety, doesn't sound fun. Luckily, the digital landscape offers many networking opportunities for introverts that want to connect with qualified prospects by curating and sharing high-quality digital content that your prospects invite into their world and are thankful to receive. And yes, it can turn that dreadful sales prospecting task into something fun and enjoyable.
Today I'll walk you through a comprehensive approach for introverts to network at scale by curating and potentially creating helpful content that is shared via social media and email.
7 Simple Steps to Better Networking
1. Understand Your Sales Prospects
Before diving into content curation or creation, it's crucial to understand your sales prospects. Knowing your audience at a deeper, personal level helps you curate content that resonates with them. We call this Social Reconnaissance, and the goal is to understand the following:
- Demographics: Age, gender, geographic location, family status, and income level.
- Psychographics: Interests, values, and lifestyles to align your shared content with their interests and beliefs.
- Professional Background: Job titles, industries, and company sizes. What kind of career or industry-specific challenges have they faced in the past?
- Online Behavior: Preferred social media platforms, websites, and content types. Identifying the Propinquity Points your prospects frequent and the kinds of content they consume there will help you optimize your content curation (and creation) strategy further.
- Introvert or Extrovert: You can quickly discern a person's natural inclination towards the world by paying close attention to their social media.
2. Curate Relevant and High-Quality Nurting Content
Curating content is an effective way for introverts to provide value to their audience without the time-consuming step of creating everything from scratch. When curating content, look for reputable sources (hint: your prospects' Propinquity Points) that share informative, engaging, and relevant material. To simplify your curation process:
- Follow industry leaders, influencers, and reputable sources in your niche. Subscribe to their newsletters, blogs, and social media accounts to stay updated on the latest trends and insights.
- Use content curation tools like Feedly (my personal choice), Pocket, or Flipboard to aggregate and organize content from various sources.
- Create themed content collections to organize and expedite the sharing of curated content (example).
3. Create Engaging and Valuable Lead Nurturing Content
Yes, creating content IS time-consuming. BUT, creating unique content your sales prospects can't find anywhere else is the best way to showcase your expertise, build credibility, and establish yourself as THE thought leader in your industry. It's also the perfect conversation starter — the primary networking hurdle most introverts fail to clear. For those interested in leveraging thought leadership content in their networking, here are a few tips to expedite the content creation process:
- Address your audience's pain points and needs. Don't just pontificate on the topic de jour; instead, offer unique solutions, insights, and easily actionable advice to help them overcome their challenges and achieve their goals.
- Use a mix of content formats, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, podcasts, and case studies. Never produce anything just once. Instead, recreate your content in as many formats as you can to cater to different sales prospect preferences and learning styles.
- Make your content visually appealing and easy to consume. Break up text with headings, subheadings, images, and bullet points. Use clear and concise language to convey your message effectively. Make sure your video content is visually pleasing and has GREAT audio. If you're using audio and video content, use a tool like Descript to strip out the filler words and easily create accurate closed captions for use in social media sharing, where most people have the audio set to mute.
4. Optimize Lead Nurture Content for Different Platforms
Don't just blindly copy/paste your content on each platform. Instead, to ensure maximum reach and engagement, optimize your content for each platform where you plan to share it. This includes:
- Adapting your content format and style to suit each platform's unique features and audience preferences. For example, create visually appealing content for Instagram, concise and engaging posts for Twitter, and in-depth articles for LinkedIn.
- Using platform-specific features, such as hashtags, mentions, and tagging, to increase visibility and engagement. You can tailor your content to take advantage of these features and reach a broader audience.
- Scheduling content for optimal posting times. Each platform has peak engagement hours, and your prospects likely follow their unique usage patterns, so research and schedule your content accordingly to maximize visibility.
5. Leverage Social Media for Networking
Social media platforms are a powerful tool for introverts networking at scale. By sharing your curated and created content on social media, you can connect with your target audience, expand your network, and establish your position as a thought leader in your industry without feeling like you're needlessly interrupting or bothering others. To leverage social media effectively:
- Be consistent with your posting schedule. Out of sight is definitely out of mind. Consistency helps build trust with your audience and keeps them engaged.
- Engage with your audience by responding to comments, answering questions, and acknowledging feedback. Don't just spray and pray for attention. Instead, building relationships with your audience creates more meaningful connections and opportunities.
- Give credit to the original creators. When you share user-generated content, give credit and, where possible, tag the creator. This not only fosters a sense of trust but encourages creator engagement, which can help you *meet* new prospects you're not even aware of today.
- Collaborate with colleagues, clients, influencers, and industry leaders. Guest posting, co-hosting webinars, or engaging in joint ventures can help you tap into new audiences and enhance your credibility as a thought leader.
6. Harness the Power of Email Marketing
Email marketing is an effective way for introverts to nurture relationships with their audience by sharing helpful content without feeling like a sleazy used car salesperson. Further, by leveraging mass email tools like MailChimp, and Constant Contact or marketing automation tools like SharpSpring (the platform I use), you can easily touch 100 sales prospects at the same time, versus copying and pasting 100 versions of the same email.
BUT - make sure you're not just blindly spamming your contact list. Instead, create micro-lists based on unique interests or industry challenges to ensure your sales prospects are thankful for the content you send — even if it is via an automated sending tool. To harness the power of email marketing:
- Build and segment your email list. Use opt-in forms on your website, blog, and social media to collect email addresses. Then use tags to segment your list based on interests, engagement levels, and demographics to deliver relevant content.
- Don't just rely on regular newsletters that include a mix of curated and original content. Instead, keep your audience informed and engaged by sending relevant, timely content when you create or curate it. The latter, in my opinion, is more effective at fostering long-term relationships.
- Personalize your emails using the recipient's name and other relevant information. You may even want to create custom fields that make email personalization at scale easier. Either way, personalization increases engagement and makes your audience feel valued.
- Create a set of reusable email templates to make it easier to share insightful content at scale.
- Track your email marketing performance using metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. While technology is making it increasingly difficult to generate accurate open and click-thru rates (thanks Apple and Spam Filters) always analyze your data to identify areas for improvement and adjust your strategy accordingly.
7. Monitor, Analyze, and Adjust
That which is measured gets done... or something like that. But truthfully, far too many people (especially introverts) fail to approach business networking like any other marketing campaign — to their detriment. To maximize the effectiveness of your sales networking efforts, it's essential to monitor, analyze, and adjust your strategy regularly. This includes:
- Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), such as website traffic, social media engagement, email marketing metrics, and content performance.
- Analyzing your audience's behavior and preferences. Use tools like Google Analytics, social media insights, and email marketing analytics to gather data on your audience's engagement and interests.
- Conducting regular content audits to identify your best-performing content and areas for improvement. Use this information to inform your content strategy and ensure you're consistently providing value to your prospects.
- Adjusting your strategy based on your findings. Continuously refine your approach to stay relevant and effective in your networking efforts.
For introverts, networking at scale is a multi-faceted process that requires a strategic approach to content curation, creation, and distribution. By understanding your target audience, curating high-quality content, creating engaging and valuable material, optimizing for different platforms, leveraging social media, harnessing email marketing, and monitoring and adjusting your strategy, you can easily leverage digital content and platforms to expand your network, create meaningful sales prospecting connections, and support your personal and professional growth.
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This post was originally published on Painless Prospecting, the weekly sales and marketing blog created by the fine folks at Converse Digital. If you want to learn how to create, engage in, and convert conversations into new clients and customers, give them a call.