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Marketing 101-Do You Google Business Contacts Before You Meet Them?

October 3, 2011

          Upon the urging of Cordell Parvin, I am reading the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.  I am also finishing 6P’s of the Big 3 by Amanda Ellis.  I do most of my evening reading on my iphone via a Kindle application,  in my 3 year old son’s room, waiting each night for him to fall asleep.  [am sure SuperNanny would not agree with this]

Anyway, I just read an excerpt from the Never Eat Alone book that I felt compelled to share, along with tips from Amanda’s book.   

          Ferrazzi  says you must  “do your homework” before a business appointment.    He suggests the following three (3) things:

1)  “The Internet.  Check out company’s website and google the individual.  ‘Going to a meeting without Googling someone is unacceptable.'”- K. Ferrazzi .

  • Also, as per Amanda, you should print out the LinkedIn profile.  See if you have mutual connections and review his or her LinkedIn Groups.
  • Check for a Facebook page.  Even though I keep my personal Facebook page private, I guess the statistic is that 77% of facebook profiles are PUBLIC; I find that statistic shocking. 
  • Check for Twitter account.   Use search function on Twitter, or see if person lists Twitter account and feed on his or her LinkedIn page.  As we all know, you can really catch a glimpse into a person’s personality through their real-time updates on these socia media outlets. 
  • Now do the same thing for the Company!!  (e.g., Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile).

 2) “Go to public library to find books, periodicals, magazines, trade journals, to check for articles written by the person you intend to meet.   If there aren’t any,  read up on the person’s industry. ” -K. Ferrazzi

  • I personally would not physically go to a library, but I probably would find out if the person has a blog, written white papers or given presentations on a particular subject.  The LinkedIn profile and Google search should help you find what you may want to read.  A person can upload presentations given to Linkedin (see some of mine here).  A person can also maintain a personal and/or professional reading list on LinkedIn too (here is mine also).
  • Do a google search on the industry and see what may pop up.  I  also love wikipedia because it has  such a wealth of info regarding almost anything and can help explain terms of art that your contact may use or has used.  
  • A few weeks before the meeting, set up  a Google Alert for the person, industry or the company so that you may get news of any recent developments. 

3) “Ask the company’s public relations department for literature.  Call and explain that you have a scheduled meeting and would like some background information.”  -K. Ferrazzi.

  •  I have never before considered doing this.  But what better source for news regarding a company?  I am sure the marketing or PR department would be happy to disseminate information (this is their job).  You can also ask the company directly if they have a Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook page and ask for the links or Twitter user handle.   Sometimes finding the right social media account can be tricky (especially with Twitter).
  • You or your company could also subscribe to Hoover’s or Dun & Bradstreet to find company reports and financial ratings.

4). “Annual reports.  They give you a good idea of where a company is heading and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.” -K. Ferrazzi

  • I have never thought of doing this before a marketing appointment, but Ferrazzi is so right.  Annual reports can be a wealth of key information.  If the company is public, you can find public filings on sites like free edgar.com (or edgar-online.com ). If you are interested in the historical pattern of a company’s stock price, you can get that info for free via Yahoo Finance
  • When I worked for The Meridian Group, I assessed the financial condition of motor carriers in the country and read annual and quarterly reports on almost a daily basis.  For those us of who are not accountants, you may be surprised by how much narrative accompanies financial statements.  Some of the reports can be very insightful about  a company’s business model, customer composition, industry outlook, negative and positive events that impacted the company’s financial condition, major lending facilities, acquisitions, equipment purchases, etc.

After reading this excerpt, I am going to make a more concerted effort to prepare more before my next coffee or luncheon or mixer.  I hope you do too.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Hinkle permalink
    October 3, 2011 7:15 pm

    Great blog! Keep up the good work!

    • October 3, 2011 9:27 pm

      thanks so much. heading to WVU game this weekend. will be weird to be back. it has been about 10 years!

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