“To succeed in sales, simply talk to lots of people every day. And here’s what’s exciting – there are lots of people!” – Jim Rohn
Much has been written about social media and the impact it’s had on branding and business networking. As a late adopter of social media but an old school disciple to the principles of relationship building, I’ve found interesting parallels between this relatively new medium (twitter, facebook, blogging) and the fundamental tenets of networking. I’ve also failed at times to apply those proven principles to our social media campaign and it has been a learning experience.
The Golden Rule
Whether your on-line or in a networking group, never lead with the hard pitch. Find out who you are talking to, what their interest and stakes are and see if you can help them achieve a goal, get a meeting with a prospect or land a client. This may entail spending some sweat equity on matters that don’t have an immediate payoff for you. However, one person at a time, you will have branded yourself as a collaborative partner. People like to work with partners, not pitchmen. In the social media world, this means that you should have something valuable to say. Be a subject matter expert and if possible, say it in a memorable way.
As my friend Cat (@Netlady29) says, social media will not make up for crappy service, crappy products or boring people. The ability to share thoughts with multitudes in seconds does not make up for shoddy service or products. Period. Building relationships is always made easier when the product you’re representing and the service that goes with it is consistent with your approach to relationships in the field.
Any salesperson will tell you that a face to face meeting beats the daylights out of a conference call or an e-mail chain. In the same respect, when someone bothers to comment on a blog post, you should acknowledge every comment. Validate those responses and learn from the comments you get. Perception is reality and the conversations sparked from a post can tell you what body language does when you’re across the table.
Personalize the Relationship
You don’t have to hold hands with your prospective customers while running down the beach (though if you achieve that level of intimacy I would wager to say that sale is a done deal). You should however bring your background and a little bit of yourself into the equation. People like to connect on levels beyond products and services. Where you are from, whether you have kids, what you studied in school and any idiosyncratic detail that makes you unique can help make you memorable. This is easy in person and more difficult through social media but should be kept in mind. @LikableMedia is a very interesting social media/marketing company. If you read the story of how they got started, it is hard not to get on board with their opportunistic social media savvy. The cliché ‘people buy from people’ is very true and although we have more avenues through which we can sell, one should now abandon the principles of building meaningful relationships and engaging people in a substantive way.
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