The most difficult step toward building a relationship can be the introduction. As a marketing assistant at Berbay Corp, I often am the one to get a “foot in the door,” which can involve cold-calling and emailing to pitch a story, contract services or just plain ask for help. More times than not, without an existing relationship in place, my efforts fail to get a worthy response. I needed to figure out a way to establish trust with a complete stranger in a very small window of opportunity.
I experienced a breakthrough when I was approached by one of our account managers to take the lead on a project for one of our international clients. We met to create a public relations strategy geared toward expanding our media reach into the United Arab Emirates. My role in the project was to conduct Internet research and identify freelance journalists and PR outlets that could help us pitch stories, set up interviews and acquire advertising. By casting a large net, I hoped to improve my chances of reeling in a few connections. When the list was complete, I sent out the same email to each person detailing our needs and what we hoped to accomplish.
After a couple of days with no responses, I had to get more creative with my message. I knew as a company we had a lot to offer, but I couldn’t make that felt in a generic email. I searched to see if I could find some of my contacts on Twitter, and found a number of people who had written in their profiles that they had moved to the UAE to become freelancers and media consultants. I sent out tweets to each person explaining what we needed and what we could offer (140 characters max). To my surprise, I got two responses within 24 hours, leading to an email exchange that ultimately led to the scheduling of a conference call to discuss our companies goals and strategy moving forward.
The power of Twitter to spark connections amongst professionals boils down to trust. Through our Twitter page, I was able to demonstrate the legitimacy of our company as a marketing and public relations firm. By keeping my message brief and informal, I was able to pique interest without having to sell anyone on our ideas. Using this experience as a template, I drafted a list of five things to consider when making new connections on Twitter:
1. Identify your target. Peruse the contact page of the organization you are trying to reach. If you are looking for journalists, online databases such as Cision allow you to search by location and news outlet to find Twitter accounts of major reporters and bloggers.
2. Keep an eye out. Watch for tweets asking for help, especially on deadline. That’s the quickest way to strike up a relationship.
3. Give and you shall receive. Whether it’s the publication of a news story or the closing of a business deal, be the first to congratulate someone for their accomplishments. When possible, include a link to an article that summarizes the success.
4. Look the part. Your Twitter profile will be the first thing your source sees about you, but also your company. Others will be hesitant to communicate if your page is unprofessional or lacking in posts.
5. Think it through. Take a look at Twitter bios to gauge your icebreaker. A thorough inspection of your source’s Twitter page will help you shape your pitch or approach.
First impressions can get a project off the ground running or kill it before it takes off. If used correctly, Twitter can grant you the audience you seek in a way that distinguishes your company more than a black and white email ever could.