Good social networking is much more than lots of updates; It’s hard work if you hope to turn it into new business. Here are four ways to help shape up social presence.
- Remember, it’s Prospecting. Keep your mind on what you’re doing, which is trying to engage your sphere of influence, clients, past clients and prospects. As a prospecting tools, social networking is fast and direct. But it also requires a clear focus and consistent effort. For every update that targets your prospects, ask yourself, “Would I have said this in my e-newsletter or if I were telemarketing them?” This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun; but it does mean you should have a purpose in mind when social networking with your business contacts.
- Create a Feed Farm. One of our key principles for expanding your sphere of influence and reaching new contacts is “Share to Grow.” This means contributing some content – a fact, a link, an idea, a quote – that multiplies your contact’s fun, knowledge or skill as a result. Once you exhaust the basics – and avoid the irrelevant price-reduction announcements – you’re going to need a lot of content to consistently contribute to your network daily. The best way to keep the sharable content flowing is to create an rss link farm of industry-related content. Use something like iGoogle or Yahoo Pipes to aggregate rss feeds from your favorite websites. Then, set your feed farm page to your browser’s default page. Each time you open your browser, scan the feeds for any helpful content you can potentially share with your sphere in a flash.
- Ask more. One of the best uses – but often forgotten approaches – to social network prospecting is to ask questions. Great salespeople know that listening more and talking less helps them find opportunities with potential clients. Social media offers a fantastics way to ask more – of more people – and learn. Consider adding at least one “polling” effort each week to your social media prospecting plan. It can be as simple as posting a question in the update, or using a more formal polling application like the one built into LinkedIn, to learn from your contacts.
- Use visuals. Microblogging content can be tough: Picking 140 characters to Tweet an effective prospecting message takes some serious thinking. Still, a picture remains worth a thousand words, even online. So consider using more photos (and videos) as part of your regular social network communications plan. Sometimes, a funny, interesting, eye-catching image, chart or video clip is all you need to get your sphere interacting, and hopefully sharing, your content with others.
Social media presents a variety of new ways to engage your prospects. Sharing blog content can share ideas; videos can educate. Like any sales tool, it takes goal clarity, resources and planning to make social network prospecting pay off. Modern consumers, like Gen X sellers and Gen Y buyers, are happy to connect with you, but be sure to contribute value, not just advertise. These four ideas should help you shape up your social network prospecting – and grow some new business – a little easier each day.