Having a genuine interest in the value I represent to people and my network as a whole, being socially engaged has grown my individual brand and usefulness to my network. It has also influenced and amplified the corporate identities for which I work.
I follow a specific set of guidelines as I evolve my social selling behavior. These rules include:
Assist and support others first.
Add value in every interaction.
Develop a social discipline including time management.
Become an original content creator about topics that my audience is interested in.
Have the right intent, even if the technique sometimes needs work.
Remain humble and positive to attract quality people.
Take risks and evolve my skill set through self-study and trial and error.
Learn from and correct mistakes.
Building a Value Added Network
I feel that my social interactions are the most impactful way that I can regularly build trust and maintain a direct means of communicating with my network. The trust must be respected and approached with responsibility.
An example of a poor social selling experience that I regularly have is the salesperson trying to sell outsourced lead services or a new marketing technology product solution. The typical outreach includes a canned LinkedIn invitation rather than a personal note that is followed up by a sales pitch if I accept the connection request. I often reply back to provide help to the salesperson and share that given our lack of relationship, it is best to focus on being relevant when contacting me and focusing on developing rapport. I also provide advice to not ask for a meeting or pitch, but rather find a way to add value to our new relationship.
A couple ideas for consideration include researching topics of interest of mine to see if there is really relevance for the service or solution for me. If not, perhaps asking to connect to deepen our respective networks is of interest as I believe my network is a valuable asset and I am always interested in exploring opportunities to deepen my social footprint in the right way. I also encourage the person to get to know me by following me in social channels and to consider working to build a trusted relationship over time rather than the brute force sales approach which will result in failure.
Bridging Digital and Real World Interactions
Bridging between social channels and eventually converting the relationship to an offline interaction such as a coffee at a conference or even a meet and greet over breakfast, lunch or at the office may be permissible.
The social selling roadmap, like social advocacy programs, must be rooted in building one’s brand as a trusted and valued relationship and engaging, advocating and influencing for the people and organizations you are interested in working with. In time, transparency and authenticity may result in an interest in taking the next step in the relationship.
My social discipline has evolved through the following concrete steps, and repeated steps, over time.
Regularly improve and optimize my social presence, particularly on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Create compelling content and publish at least twice a week (on LinkedIn) and daily on Twitter.
Listen to and monitor what my network contacts and target organizations are discussing in social channels.
Benchmark myself against my peers using tools such as LinkedIn Premium tools and analytics.twitter.com.
Follow people and organizations of interest across relevant social channels.
Get connected and establish ties.
Expand to other networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, Google+ and others.
Bridge online and offline behaviors and make passive interactions active ones (across Twitter-LinkedIn-Email-Phone-F2F).
Connect and message (a good rule of thumb is 5-7 interactions before they know who you are).
Comment on content to show awareness and interest (best comments are not drive by in nature; specifically engage in what is said and ask a thoughtful and thought out question).
Engage back and forth.
Share relevant content with network to expand and grow.
Promote others' articles/blogs, endorse on LinkedIn or write a recommendation.
Partner and do something together (lunch, event).
At the end of the day, social business and social selling should follow The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As we all continue to learn skills and best practices to build our individual brands, ensuring that our intent is aligned with our technique will continue to lead to successful relationships.