Is it just me, or is the constant barrage of “expert” advice on all the things I should be doing on social media becoming a bit wearing these days? Sure, I know I should be building a tribe of followers on Twitter and nurturing my relationship with them by interacting and retweeting. And I know I should be participating in LinkedIn Groups to establish myself as an expert in my field. And, of course, I should be embracing yet another change to the way Facebook works to build my personal brand.
But who has the time for all this stuff? And does any of it really work?
Yeah, I’ve seen the case studies. The big brands with millions of followers who are using free PR on Facebook instead of advertising. Or the girl who’s suddenly become a media superstar because her homemade Youtube videos suddenly went viral. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.
The experience of most business owners and salespeople with social media is that it burns up an awful lot of time for very little return. Twitter followers rarely seem to turn into buyers. LinkedIn groups seem flooded with people pitching at each other rather than any real clients. And Facebook seems to change the rules as soon as you get the hang of the last change.
Surely though, there are some things you can do on social media which do have a high payback… right?
Well, yes. But you won’t find them being touted by social media gurus with yet another training product to sell you. To find them, you have to go back to basics and see how social media can help you do the things you ALREADY KNOW work.
Here’s a simple example…
Ask almost any business or salesperson what their very best source of new clients is and the answer is almost universal: word of mouth, referrals. But ask those businesses what they’re doing to get more referrals rather than leaving it to chance and you’ll usually get an embarrassing silence. It’s not that businesses don’t want more referrals. Or that they don’t know people who could give them referrals. It’s just that asking for referrals is usually a painful, embarrassing process.
“Do you know any accountants who might be interested in what I do?”
“How about any lawyers?”
“Er, butchers? Bakers? Candlestick makers?”
The typical guessing game that asking for referrals can devolve into benefits no one. But what if you had access to the “little black book” of all the best contacts of the people you knew? What if you could see who they knew and could introduce you to? That would make asking for referrals a whole lot easier.
“I see you know John Smith of Smith and Sons…is there any chance you could introduce us?”
(Not that I think that’s the best way of asking for a referral, but we’ll come back to that in a later article).
When you know who people know, you can ask for referrals with confidence, and you can avoid wasting their time with guessing games. And with LinkedIn, that’s exactly what you can do. Head over to the profile of your connections on LinkedIn and see who else they’re connected to. You’ll be shocked by how many great potential contacts for you they know that you had no idea about. Better yet, use the LinkedIn advanced search to search for potential clients– by sector, by company name, by job title or business size — and then see which common connections you have.
Again, you’ll find connections in the most unexpected places. People you had no idea knew the sort of people you’d love to be referred to. And people who would be more than happy to refer you.
Referrals are the oldest and most effective form of selling. And with Social Media they can work even better.
A special thanks to Ian Brodie for this guest post!