How to Use LinkedIn to Research Contact Center Partners

researching-onlineThere's no question that Linkedin is the undisputed king of business-oriented social networks.  But though most people understand its function at hiring time, not everyone understands its powerful ability to serve as a B2B research and relationship development tool. For a business seeking to develop its inbound customer service unit or call center, LinkedIn can be an excellent method by which potential outsourcing partners can be located and identified.

B2B service providers are building communities on LinkedIn. Where are you?

A 2014 report issued by the Content Marketing Institute stated that 91% of B2B service providers are now using LinkedIn to distribute marketing content. This means that 9 out of 10 businesses that want to provide services to you are using LinkedIn to try to find you. And because they are looking for you, they in turn make it easy for you to find them.

That said, many managers or small business owners fail to look there when conducting their initial searches, according to DJ Muller, president of WebLink International.

The social network, he said, "is an awesome tool that is underleveraged by businesses in general. It’s a great tool to build more relationships with existing customers and it’s an awesome tool to use your customers to connect with prospects.”

SEO may be fine, but person-to-person for mine.

Googling isn't always the best way to go about finding, or making yourself able to be found by, potential business partners. SEO is highly effective, but Google and other search engines are savvy to it and they are increasingly developing ways to either crack down on or profit by it.

LinkedIn, however, exists specifically to foster professional relationships.

It has robust research features that allow users to search individuals and companies by industry, region, or degree of professional separation. Moreover, it allows users ask for suggestions, to recommend others and to endorse skills, so it can be used upfront to determine competencies and reliability in a potential partner.

Ask your customers and colleagues for introductions.

If you are using LinkedIn the way you should be using it, you are connecting with your existing customers, as well as contacts and colleagues within your industry. And every one of them has his or her own network of professional contacts. So use that power— if you are searching for a business to partner with, ask your network for recommendations of professionals they have found to be reliable in the past.

LinkedIn does allow you to see your connections' 2nd and 3rd degree connections. You might search your network members' connections to see if they are connected with someone in the B2B industry you wish to partner with. Then, you can send a message, asking for an introduction to the person you are interested in talking to.

Make sure, though, that you avoid overstepping bounds or hounding your contacts for information. You don't want to rattle your existing connections; you wouldn't, for example, ask your internal customer service manager if she knows any B2B call center professionals. You might be looking to outsource the service, but you don't want her to feel like her abilities are in question.

And once you've made the request for a recommendation or introduction, don't ask again. A contact will either respond, or won't. Remember, you are representing your company and your brand, and social interactions can be notoriously tricky.

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to find or be found.

If you desire to find contact center professionals, try searching by relevant industry key terms, such as “contact center” or “customer service.” You might also search by company names that you know, or try looking through blog posts and content shares posted by members of your network to find relevant leads.

Above all, make sure that you are keeping your own profile up-to-date and representative of your best work. It essentially functions as an online resume, so you want it to be concise, factual and mistake-free. Remember, once you have contacted a potential B2B partner through the network, your profile is the first thing they will see and research. You're being evaluated, too.

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RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.