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3 Ways to Hack List Building in the Early Days

Written By Rajen Sanghvi @RajenSanghvi

· List Building,Lead Generation,Prospecting

As a founder or early stage startup salesperson, you’ll find yourself building lots of lists. Lists of things to do, lists of influencers in your space, lists of competitors in your market, etc. However, nothing will help you grow your revenues quite as fast as building a solid lists of prospects to reach out to first. While there are a ton of tools available in the market today, this post walks you through a few tactics you can use right away without breaking the bank.

1. Industry Associations (without crazy membership fees)

I’m sure you’re likely already aware of a number of industry associations relevant to your startup, but membership is expensive and often prohibitive. So here are two things you can do to get around this:

  • Get a Student Membership - With most industry associations, there is almost always a free or heavily discounted student membership; take advantage of this. If you’re not a student, go find someone who is and ask them to register for you. Take your friend that’s a student for a coffee, ask them to register for you right there on the spot, setup a password share using Meldium or Lastpass, and get access.

  • Reach out to Chapter Executives - Check out the industry organization website, find out who leads the local chapter and reach out to them asking for advice. Introduce yourself and what you’re working on, and reference why they are uniquely qualified to help you. Stroke their ego a bit, ask them for their insights on the future of the industry, and feedback on how to get more involved with the organization. Once you get that meeting, don’t be a leech; avoid asking for anything in return (i.e. free membership, executive introductions, etc), and really focus on trying find a way to help them or create value for them (i.e. volunteering at a their next event, connecting them to a potential sponsor they may want, etc). This will help you earn the right to add them to LinkedIn, and once you do, you’ll gain access to a good chunk of the local members to build your list.

2. LinkedIn (without having Pro or LinkedIn Navigator)

Add your customers to LinkedIn, look at their profiles and go and add yourself to all of the same LinkedIn groups they’re a part of. Once you get access to the group, go check out the LinkedIn Group Organizer’s profile. There is a pretty good chance that this individual is heavily connected in the industry, and is also part of all of the other groups that you’ll want to join as well. Go join those as well. Keep repeating this exercise until you’ve exhausted every possible group that already exists. Once you’re in the groups, you can start purusing through the profiles of the group members to start building your lists. While I’ll be writing an entire separate post on best practices for using LinkedIn for lead generation, one quick tip -- build your list by starting in your local geography. It’ll help you build a more intimate network that you can use to meet in person as well.

3. Twitter (without bothering your developers for help scraping)

Since Twitter is basically a place to have “public conversations”, I find it to be a great resource to build an initial list of prospects. I mean these people have practically self identified themselves as individuals who care to engage in public conversation. Start off by spending some time searching through hashtags for industry conferences, specific events or topics in your space. From there, you’ll be presented with a solid set of prospects that you’ll likely want to reach out to. The next step is how to turn this into a list that you can actually do something about. There are lots of tools available to help you turn the results into a list that you can drop into Excel, but one I like to use is DataMiner. It’s a free web scraping tool that requires virtually no dev background and takes just seconds to learn. In terms of reaching out to the prospects, again, I’ll have another post written entirely about how to use Twitter for Social Selling, but a quick tip - you want to build a virtual relationship before you start asking for favours. Start off by retweeting something they mentioned recently, consider favouriting of one of their tweets, or commenting on a post with something relevant. Over a bit of time, you’ll be able to move the conversation over to a Direct Message to try and set up some time for a 1-on-1 meeting.

...Now go do this.

Repeatable sales is all about discipline and having process. Now that you’ve got a few methods to built out a list of prospects, set a quota for yourself today (i.e. a list of 100 prospects) and now go and crush it (i.e. get 200 prospects instead)! Once you’ve completed the first step of the lead generation process, you’ll be ready for step two: lead enrichment and contact information. Stay tuned for my next post on a bunch of ways to do just that!

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