Make Some Room - The Two Business Networks You Should Be Using Right Now

  Welcome!

This Alignable success story was originally posted by Tabitha Jean Naylor from TabithaNaylor.com in Tampa, FL

Professional networking sites like LinkedIn and Alignable provide a powerful potential for new leads, partnerships, and career advancement. Naturally, they’re must-have tools for me and my business.

LinkedIn has been the top dog in professional networking sites for a while, but it’s far from the only option anymore. With a focus on community, genuine connections, and sharing knowledge, Alignable has quickly become one of my favorites.

A quick highlight! Before I forget, I also wanted to mention that I found a really awesome copywriter last week on Alignable, all because of a question he posted in the Q&A forum.  For those of you who don’t know, finding one of those is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.  Yet again, Alignable comes through

Lead Generation

Lead generation is one of the top reasons I use professional networking sites, and how those leads go on to impact my business is important.

I get a lot of leads on LinkedIn. It’s a huge website, and having a large database of people at your fingertips definitely has its benefits. But getting a high number of new leads only matters if they amount to something substantial in the long run.

When it comes down to developing new relationships and working with potential leads, it’s always quality over quantity for me. On Alignable, I’m consistently finding that the leads are high quality and worth following up on. They show up for appointments and are really interested in building relationships.

On the other hand, a lot of the leads that come in on LinkedIn just don’t have the same level of quality. All too often, those leads disappear after a few messages or flake out on the appointments they set up.

My time is valuable - I only want to invest it into leads that are going to develop in to something meaningful in the long run. So for lead generation, I definitely prefer using Alignable.

Here's what I do specifically on Alignable to generate leads...

I connected my Gmail account to Alignable to import contacts.  I also exported my entire LinkedIn connection list, which is around 30,000 people.  This has been a great way for me to reconnect with old prospects/old clients, which has opened up a lot of new dialogue as people join the site.  For anyone I connect with, I always look at their profiles.  If they aren't complete, I will usually check again in a few days.  If it's still not complete, then I don't give it a second look.  I'm of the mindset that if someone isn't going to take the time to properly set up their business profile, they aren't going to take the site seriously.  I'm ridiculously busy and was able to carve out an hour to build a complete business profile.  If people are unwilling to do so, I don't think of them as a good networking/referral partner.
For people who DO build out their business profiles, I will always read through everything from top to bottom, and decide whether they might be:
1.  A good person to speak with about referrals

2.  A good person to speak with about the services my company has to offer

If they pass that test, then I'll usually reach out with a quick note asking when they are free to chat for a few minutes.  The first call is usually just an exploratory call on both sides of the table.  From there, it's all about building out the relationship.  I NEVER try and pitch someone on my services right off the bat.  Typically, at least what has been my experience thus far, is that once we've established rapport after the initial conversation, people will reach out to me and inquire about what we have to offer if they feel they have a need.  I'm essentially turning the tables on traditional methods of prospecting (aka: when you're pitching TO someone).  I like to think of this as networking based attraction marketing.  

Visibility and Exposure

The size of LinkedIn alone gives it the upper hand when it comes down to visibility and exposure. But Alignable is growing and as it does, the opportunities to become more visible will grow too. I think that being more active on the site also helps a lot with this - you need to put yourself out there so that people can find you.

And for the moment, Alignable is only open to people in the USA and Canada. This is perfect for me because I don’t market to an international audience. But for people that rely on the international marketplace for work, Alignable won’t be as strong an option as LinkedIn.

Real People and Real Conversations

If you’ve used LinkedIn for any length of time, you know how prevalent spam and junk mail are. People who don’t have a genuine interest in a connection with you flood your inbox with sales pitches.

The smaller crowd size of Alignable lends itself to a more intimate atmosphere. I’ve found that the majority of people on Alignable genuinely want to connect and have real conversations. That leads to better connections and relationship building.

There’s a lot less noise on Alignable. Less spam and more conversation have made it a more welcoming environment where I’m happier to invest my time and resources.

Since Alignable is newer, there isn’t software that lets people send out mass messages. It’s really refreshing to know that every message I get on the site has been manually sent to me. I find that if people are taking the time to actually send out a message, it’s more likely to lead to authentic conversation and relationships. No one wants more junk mail, so Alignable has some very clear benefits here.

Finding What You Need

Linkedin has more search options. I like how easy it is to narrow down the fields based on some very specific information. There are a ton of filters that allow you to search by industry, location, business or even language. This is obviously a huge benefit when I’m looking for someone or something specific, but don’t have the time to sift through a lot of irrelevant results.

Right now, Alignable still has a pretty limited number of search options available. But that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to find what I’m looking for. The features are user-friendly and once I learned the nuances of the site, the search isn’t hard to navigate.

Customer Support

Customer support for online services can be a downright pain to deal with. I think LinkedIn definitely falls into that category. They have painfully slow response times that sometimes leave me wondering if the support team even exists.

In terms of customer support, Alignable excels where Linkedin fails. More often than not, I’ve only had to wait a matter of minutes before the team responds to my inquiry. When they do respond, they have always been super friendly and eager to help. The team at Alignable also encourages input from users - they want to hear suggestions for changes and new features. It’s always nice to deal with a company that obviously cares about their customer’s user experience.

A Place to Share Knowledge

One of the most disappointing things about LinkedIn to me is that they did away with their Q&A forums. Alignable has one and it's a fantastic place to share knowledge, help others, and get some business exposure. Being able to present yourself as a knowledgeable resource to the community can really help with lead generation and forming new connections.

This is a lot harder to do on LinkedIn now and definitely a lot more time-consuming. The only way to do something similar there these days is to go into groups, look at what people are talking about, and answer questions. Not nearly as many people will be reading your responses that way, so it’s more work for less exposure.

Organization

I’m huge on organization (as in a touch OCD about it). I want to be able to work efficiently and make the most of my time, especially when I’m dealing with conversations. Right now, both LinkedIn and Alignable have inbox systems that make it really hard for me to stay organized.

Alignable doesn’t currently have a way to delete what’s in your inbox, so mine is full of stuff I wish I could get rid of. It’s really hard to keep track of the important stuff - presently I have to keep track of the important messages by copying the link to the messaging thread and pasting it into an Excel spreadsheet, which is time-consuming and a pain. A simple fix like adding in a way to flag important messages would help a lot and make it even better than LinkedIn’s system. Thankfully, the Alignable team is aware of this and they’re working on changing things for the better.

So Who Wins?

Alignable and Linkedin both have their pros and cons, but Alignable has a lot to offer in terms of quality lead generation, brand growth, and relationship building. Because of this, I REALLY love using the site for networking, and am excited to see it grow and improve over the coming months. 

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