You have been waiting. You have been watching. You have been considering whether or not social selling may be right for you and … now you are ready to start out your 2014 by jumping in! Excellent! Here are 10 tips to get you started.
1. It’s what you do, and who you are, already!
There’s no need to change yourself. Social selling will not make you something that you are not. What it will do is amplify that which you already are. Make that magnify and amplify. You will be more noticeable, and more visible, to a larger audience, both of which just might dramatically increase your sales. People already buy from you for a variety of good reasons so, no pressure. Be yourself!
2. Educate yourself
I am only one of probably 1,000’s of people who write on the social selling topic. A simple internet search will turn up tons of articles on every aspect of social selling. Leverage that! Find some great sources, subscribe to their articles, and feed those automatically to a good reader like Feedly. You probably already regularly make investments of one sort or another. The most serious investment, and the one with the highest potential return, will be the one that you make in yourself!
3. Find influencers and then emulate them
You likely know people who are similar to yourself in terms of responsibilities and who are already visibly active, and appear to be successful, in navigating the social channels. These will be people who you, and others, seem to respect. Find them, watch them, and then emulate them. What is it that they do to engage with their audience? Why are they getting the likes, the comments, and the retweets?
I am a huge believer in this practice. There are certain people on social media that I watch very closely. I watchand I listen to what they do. When appropriate, I will engage and connect with these people. I’m always hoping that some of their gold dust will rub off on me. Lie down with dogs and you will get fleas. On the other hand, run with the big dogs and you may become part of the pack! You will always be judged by the company that you keep!
4. Pick one platform to get started on
This is why the title of this article includes [Insert Network Name]. I can’t answer which platform you should get started on first but, I can tell you this … you do not need to be active on every networkand it is in your interest to pick the best one for you, really dial it in, and do so before venturing out onto the other social channels.
Aside from your obvious choices (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+), there are more social networks out there than there are rocks to throw at them. If you are just getting started, I don’t think that you can be effectively active on every one (too much to learn and to absorb all at once) but, you can master one and then choose to expand your reach as, and if, needed. So which platform should you choose?
5. Identify where your target market is
That one platform? First of all, It is not necessarily where your existing contacts are. For that matter, your existing contacts (or maybe a large percentage of them) might not even be active yet on the social channels. However, I can guarantee you that people who you want to do business with, are. You will also want to consider beyond where they are active to where they actively conduct business.
As a case in point, I know a lot of business people who are very active on Facebook but, they are not using this network to conduct business. Now, there is a case to be made that Facebook shows a more personal side of you (people buy from who they know, like, and trust) and this point is valid. However, if I know you strictly as a business acquaintance, will I want to include you in my personal network of friends and family? Me? No. Somebody else? Perhaps.
6. Have an incredible profile and then configure it for search
Your profile is your calling card. It is what people will look at when you extend an invitation to connectand it is also how people will judge you when they are looking for somebody like you to fulfill their needs for your product or service. Why then does your profile look like it was put together by a 3rd grader? I’ve seen profiles that are so bad that I would have to apologize to this grade schooler for even associating them with these people.
You have that one chance to make a good first impression so do not squander that! Make your profile professional, complete, and configure it to be found. Regardless of what social network(s) you are on, make sure your profile is searchable by keywords. This is one of the primary methods that people will use to either find you or … to find your competitor. Which would you prefer?
7. Target your connections and personalize your invitations
You can connect (follow, friend, circle) people or you can do the same but with the right people. If you are in B2B or B2C sales, I would suggest that the right people are those who have the potential to invest in your product or service, can refer you to others, or who can make you better at what you do. These same people are the kinds of folks with whom you can potentially develop a relationship with. Beyond that?? If you are an internet marketer, and you base your marketing on massive reach, your needs might be different.
When you are ready to connect, whenever possible, personalize your invitation to do so. In all fairness, you can’t always personalize your invitationsand that includes on LinkedIn where such invitations used to be the norm vs. the exception (very sore point!). However, when you can, you would have to be an idiot not to do so. Yes, an IDIOT. Why would you not want to stand out from a crowd and give somebody solid reasons for them to accept your invitation to connect?
8. Listen and then engage
You’ve heard this before. God gave you two ears, two eyes, and one mouth … because? How about another biblical reference?
Samson slew 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass and every day the same amount of sales are lost by deploying the identical weapon!
Would you walk into a crowded room, stroll over to a group of people who are having a discussion, and simply insert yourself into the dialog without first determining if you had anything of value to share and if the time to do so was even appropriate? Of course not! You listen, you watch, and then you engage. Conversations in social selling are no different.
9. Provide value and demonstrate your expertise
The best part of social selling is that you have mad skillsand this is the best, and most visible, place to demonstrate those! By helping others, you provide value to those who are connected to you. This same value will be seen, and recognized, by others. Now then, when a need for your product or services, who are they going to call? The chance that it is your phone that will be ringing has just risen … dramatically!
10. Leverage groups
Everyone of the major social networks, with the exception of Twitter, has some sort of a built-in group function. Even without groups, Twitter members do find ways to flock up. There are groups for virtually any interest and people who share these same interests will congregate and explore that group’s topic.
Groups are, at least in my mind, the single most valuable element of each of the networks that offer them. At the same time, groups are notoriously mismanaged:
- You join a group and then you do … nothing?
- You join a group that is populated by … people exactly like you? By that I mean, people like you who are in the same business and are marketing to the same segment? I like to call these people … competitors.
I love to hang out with other salespeople. Hell, I even run B2B networking groups but, we all sell to different markets and we leverage that. In terms of social networking, I want to belong to groups that are frequented by my target clients. I’m going to be active, visible, and helpful. What I am not going to do is sell. I will engageand I will connect. The rest will take care of itself.
For what it is worth, I learned every one of these tips the hard wayand I have the bruises to show for it. What tips might you have learned along the way in your journey into social selling that you might share with others?