Great post from Social Media Examiner about finding the right influential people to help your business using social media.
I have my own experience of how this works. Nearly three years ago, I was friended and contacted by the Sales Manager of Keltic Clothing via LinkedIn. He had noticed that I was a lollipop lady who worked for Southend Borough Council and he wanted to know if I could help him get his products seen by my manager.
I hated my uniform at that time. It was too big and the way it hung on my shoulders was causing me all sorts of postural problems. Not only was I continually lifting and rotating the weight of my lollipop pole but an extremely heavy coat as well.
Worse still, it was not waterproof. I would get home after standing for an hour in a torrential downpour and have to completely change the clothes underneath, as well as rescuing my mobile phone and any sodden tissues or banknotes from the pockets. Five hours later, I would have to don the soaking garment once again and go back out into it. Cue another change of clothing on my return.
The hood arrangement was from a design that I used to encounter when I was a small child. Two ties with a bead on each end which was supposed to stop them from coming undone. Fail on all fronts. In windy weather, the ties would slip apart and the hood would fall down, distracting me from the job in hand as I tried to keep my hair and glasses dry.
Being a sailor, I know that it is possible to get waterproof wet weather gear which protects you from the vicissitudes of the British climate and this outfit was not cutting it!
After explaining the situation and getting permission from my supervisor, he sent me an XS coat to try. It fitted perfectly, was waterproof - it even came with a special internal pocket for phones and money - and the velcro on the hood meant that it stayed put in all weathers. There were even two slots on the top of my arm to places pencils so that I could make a note of the registration numbers of any errant drivers.
I had no hesitation in recommending it to my employers but they had excess stock of the old uniforms to use up.
Three years later, the zip on my coat was starting to become a bit difficult to do up, so I called my supervisor to request a new coat. They are now being supplied direct by Keltic as a result of my recommendations and the new coat arrived within two days.
Social media may not always the quickest of routes to the right people but it is an avenue which should always be explored.
Having said that, some of the new traffic monitoring softwares are also using LinkedIn. They allow businesses to see which business customers have been spending time on their website and then they show a list of employees from that company who are connected to the owner of the website. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to keep building your connections on LinkedIn. Even a third level connection on LinkedIn will give you a christian name and the initial of a surname. A search of the company website can often help to fill in the blanks.
Getting past the gatekeeper is the most important step for most salesmen and having a name to ask for helps to achieve that end. Even if they were not the one who was looking on your website, they may well be able to forward you to the right area. The worst thing you can do is email to whom it may concern. That is pretty much guaranteed to not make you a sale.