ContractIQ’s experience with Quora – Early stage business development for startups!

We had a great conversation on Sunday (OCC – Open Coffee Club, Chennai – A volunteer startup group that meets every 1st Sunday of a month) regarding sales/business development hacks. Here’s about one that I have had reasonable success with.

Many of you hear know about Quora as a great QnA service. It’s also an amazing people discovery tool. While LinkedIn serves up professional graph, it doesn’t capture the most current/real-time professional interest of a person, in a way that Quora does.

Quora is a manifest of current topics of interest, of a professional and there is quite a correlation (empirical, based on observation) between the quality of a person’s Questions & Answers and their vestedness/passion for a particular topic. This makes them the best early adopters for your products/services and they are very approachable, should you have something genuine to kindle their curiosity.

The hit rate for conversations (in my personal experience, trying it out for ContractIQ) has been among the best (60% or above).

How to leverage Quora for early stage business/customer development:

1. Be active on Quora. In terms of investment of time, here’s an ascending order of things you could do – Upvote, follow, Comment, Edit, Moderate a board, Compile a summary, Ask a question, Write an Answer.

2. Be open. Have a short bio that explains who you are. Remember that Quora clips the bio to fit the layout. So be short and precise. When you have to ask or answer do not do it anonymously (unless there is a real need to do so). By being anonymous, you miss out on possible inbound interactions and followers.

3. Actively upvote and comment on answers (if you genuinely like them though). It opens up an avenue for a conversation!

4. Quora serves up suggestions on who to point your questions to. Take that suggestion. It puts you in direct conversation with an expert. If they don’t reply you can still reach out to them, quoting the transaction and most respond.

5. Quora private messages are among the most unpolluted direct conversation channels among the networks. Use them to reach out to people, with very short messages asking for action (Ex: You answer was very eye-opening. Can I take your time to walk through how we address this space with our startup (or) Can I take an office hour with you?)

6. Create and own a board. This is among the least used features. You can own the mindspace within Quora for a topic, without having to ask or answer. You could simply be an aggregator and that in itself is of great value to the community. It also gives you a chance to invite people to the board. That’s another conversation context!

What not to do?

1. Stalking a person by upvoting all his/her answers (unless you do it out of genuine gratitude for having learnt in every instance and not because they can benefit you in some way)

2. Answer when you have nothing to contribute. (Compiling the answers would be a better alternative in such case)

3. Masquerading promotions as answers all the time (Users are okay with you promoting your startup. But add a bit of perspective to your answer before popping out your business cards in every answer)

4. The best way to promote your startup in an answer is to not promote it at all.(Remember that Quora is not a platform for your startup!). The second best way is to sign off your answers with a disclaimer that you have an interest in the space through your startup. Keep it short though!

5. Don’t send mass mailers via the private message option.

6. Don’t own a board and not aggregate.

– End of Post-

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