This blog is based on an excerpt from our webinar, Cultivating your Network for Maximum Profit, hosted by renowned sales coach Mitch Harris.
When prospecting within your own network, social media can be a very powerful tool. Because of social media, we are more connected and have more access to our peers than ever before. Using social media to reach out your friends, family, and colleagues and building your relationship with them can be a powerful way to gain success.
We are just going to spend just a little bit of time on social media, as it is an important part of the landscape of your network.
The first and obvious huge elephant in the room is Facebook. There are lots of different ways you can use Facebook, but the first question is whether you want to build a business page for your industry audience to follow, or use your own personal Facebook account. There is no wrong answer here, different approaches work for different people.
I actually use my personal Facebook page when sharing things about my business because it feels like a good match, and I am not overly aggressive about it. I also know people who are successful using a business page, and separating their personal posts from their businesses ones. Really, it depends on your business and your own personal preferences.
One of the general rules of thumb with Facebook is you don’t want to post about or promote your business on a consistent basis if you are using your personal Facebook. I suggest sharing what you are doing in a way that it is personal where people can still support. Sharing about what you’re doing without asking if anyone is interested in working with you can be a powerful way to build trust, and keep you at top of mind when anyone you know needs what you offer.
One of the tools you want to use with Facebook which can consistently be a real difference is to ask for feedback or ask a question or look to get other people's thoughts on what you are sharing. Asking for feedback and thoughts instead of business can be a powerful way to start conversations and provide an opportunity for people with their own questions to connect with you. For example, you could ask something like “Have you ever had an experience like this?” or “Have you found something that tends to work in this area?” Sometimes I even ask for support myself, “I'm looking for some support or ideas or feedback regarding this...Can you tell me what you think would work here?”
Another great strategy is to be informative about what you know, without being pushy. For example, you can share something like, “Here are three tips on how to conserve energy or how to make better use of your energy budget.” or “Three things you may not be aware of in your work environment that are wasting energy everyday.” Providing some education is a great way to build trust in your ability and authority, and you’d be surprised how many people come out of the woodwork.
Another obvious social network for prospecting is LinkedIn. Now with LinkedIn, you can be more direct with business. You can reach out more regarding business objectives or something related to a business focus because that's the LinkedIn brand, and what people expect when they’re using the platform.
The first way to interact with your network on LinkedIn is very similar to the Facebook strategy, sharing posts that engage and educate your network. Sharing relevant posts about what you’re up to, and what you need help with often sparks a discussion that leads to real business conversations.
The second is way to interact with your network is through direct reachout. Keep in touch with the people in your network you’d like to work with. Check in with them on occasion just to ask how they’re doing and whether there’s anything you might be able to help them with. Consistent, genuine, helpful outreach can help you really build up the trust your network has in you, and often leads to more referrals and more business.
Instagram is great if you can find a way to put your posts in a video or image format. This could be endorsements, videos, or photos with quotes of clients endorsing you directly. They can be photos with you on site with a client. They could be showing a spreadsheet or something that literally shows savings or great deals that you provide the client as long as they don't show any confidential information.
Again, share information about what you’re doing without necessarily promoting yourself all the time. You can decide whether you want to use a business account or your personal account to do this, but ensure you have a proper attitude for your brand.
Instagram has been a tool that is still growing rapidly in business, and more and more people are able to find success using it.
Another platform that is just starting to gain traction, which I highly recommend you check out, is called Alignable.com. The great thing about Alignable is it is designed specifically for sales people who want to generate business and look for referrals. It is a referrals-oriented platform where you don't have to worry about being inappropriate or being too aggressive, because that’s the whole purpose of the platform.
Once again, regardless of how aggressive you are “allowed” to be on this platform, I recommend you come from a place of offering a value first, but you can come right from the business standpoint instead of a more personal one. Because this platform is so new, the best practices are still shifting, but I suggest that you at least check it out and see if it might work for what you’re trying to accomplish.
Social Media can be a powerful prospecting tool for utilizing your existing network. If you have more suggestions to add, feel free to reach out to us.