Link Building 101: "What's Working Well for You Now?"
On prospect calls I'm fond of learning "what's working well for you now?" Alternately, to get at the same information I'll sometimes ask "how are you currently generating leads/conversions?" It's a simple question, but it can uncover a wealth of link building ideas and potential directions for a campaign. This line of questioning can help you feel out an organization's, department's or individual's strengths and resources - building from these strengths can result in link building campaigns that support or leverage existing successes.
Asking "what's working" is also an easier, less jargony way to ask "what are your linkable assets?"
Example 1: In talking with a prospect in the real estate education space, I floundered for a bit trying to understand what kind of a campaign would work for them. The CEO was not a search believer, but was willing to experiment with a blog my prospect informed me. I finally asked: "how are you generating business?" That's when I learned that they had an email list of more than 10,000 subscribers that they had built gradually over the past 10+ years. My prospect estimated that 10% of them published blogs or other websites.
Jackpot! This provided an excellent starting point for some community interviews for link building (see section 3). Further, the list itself provided a natural promotion platform.
Example 2: In helping our clients discover link prospects with the Link Building Toolset we start with a kickoff call. Again, this question of "what's working well..." ...works very well. Some folks attract links with content, some with donations - it all comes down to available resources and, again, the organizations' strengths. Asking "what builds links for you now" is the fastest way to start this line of inquiry and helps us see how we can best serve them. It also saves them from having to listen to me preach about preciprocity if they have no budget or resources available for content creation ;)
Example 3: If you're an inhouse link builder we recommend you elevate your profile and start inviting folks from different departments out for lunch. Why? To ask them that oh so simple question: "what's working well for you now?" Alternately, you could ask something like: "what are you working on these days?" Listen closely and seek to understand their core objectives. Then ask, very politely, if you can make some link building-related suggestions that also help them to meet their goals. Obviously as the link builder you're very busy, but these kinds of conversations will help you to understand how your unique skill set and abilities could help out your organization achieve business goals in the SERPs and beyond.