Shannon Fable by Shannon Fable
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List building is something you’ve no doubt heard of when digging into ways to grow your business. One effective approach to building your list is en masse outreach through social media, email marketing, speaking and writing. An additional tactic you should consider is direct outreach. While not as quick or straightforward to scale, proactively connecting with potential clients, business partners and decision-makers one-to-one via social, email, text message, or a good old-fashioned phone call can be a game-changer. 

Before we discuss how to get started with a direct outreach strategy, it’s crucial to ensure you understand this is not the same as spamming, cold calling or any other type of unsolicited messaging. Those weird in-mail messages that come through on LinkedIn are not what we’re suggesting. To be clear, direct outreach takes time and should begin with authenticity.

Direct outreach requires you to look for ideal prospective clients, business partners and decision-makers consistently and in various locations. Once you have identified someone you need to know, you find an authentic way to connect one-to-one. Ideally, your carefully constructed outreach will open the doors to a conversation that will lead to more consistent communication and a deeper relationship over time. As you continue to nurture the relationship, you will naturally find options in your sales cycle (whether it’s paying for something or taking advantage of some free options) for potential clients that would prove valuable. And, for those who are not potential clients, you will naturally find ways to work together and strengthen one another’s pursuits.

Ready to learn the steps to getting started? Here they are:

  1. On social channels, search for hashtags relevant to your target market, the benefit you provide, and products or services you offer or that are similar to what you offer.
  2. Based on your search, you’ll find groups, companies and individuals that might be of interest. Make a list and start reviewing their accounts and activity to confirm relevancy. 
  3. Extend your search by looking at suggestions or similar groups, companies and individuals after your initial research and repeat step #2.

Now, you should have a targeted list to start contacting. Start by focusing on your top 10. Get to know those on your hit list by joining the group (or asking to join the group) or following. 

Follow these steps to progress the relationship at a steady pace and earn the right to connect via direct message, email or other types of direct communication:

  1. Consume: Read the articles they post, attend the scheduled live videos, watch later, look at the pictures, etc.
  2. React: When it strikes you (and it’s authentic), like or otherwise express your positive reaction to the content.
  3. Comment: After several likes (or similar), begin commenting with affirmation and adding to the conversation.
  4. Share: Whether you share their content to your accounts or post things they’ve written or created on your page natively, tag and let them know how amazing you think they are publicly.
  5. Reach out: Once you know what makes them tick, have a real reason for expressing appreciation or gratitude and recognize when to send a DM or other type of direct communication.

As a final note, here are three things to avoid: 

  • Do not post your content in their groups or on their accounts unless requested.
  • Avoid being controversial in groups to get a reaction.
  • Do not try to sell, in any way, during your first direct outreach.

Not all direct outreaches will work. You may get radio silence, which is fine and to be respected. A general rule of thumb is to reach out one or two more times. Avoid using phrases such as “in case you missed it,” “trying one more time,” or any other version that draws attention to the fact you’re waiting for a message. Craft a new and authentic message. If you’ve tried two to three times using the above strategy with no response, move the contact to a different list and consider trying again in six months or so.

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