In my last post I explored reasons why you should engage in Social Networks. I also encouraged you to focus on building relationships through all your engagement points. This week, we are taking the next steps to turn your online relationships into offline business. This, of course, is the ultimate goal.
Instead of writing and talking about what you find interesting, you want to write and talk about topics that are of concern for your potential customers, your followers, and your tribe. You have probably heard before (from me) that there is a conversation in your customers’ heads based on something they worry about. You want to engage in that conversation. For example, working married moms worry about their priorities and how to move forward in their careers without neglecting their families. Single working moms worry about paying their bills and making sure their kids don’t miss out on any fun or simple pleasures and how to make it all work.
You will gear your communications to the type of person you want to reach. You enter their world by creating a dialog. Here are a few tips:
- Keep the tone and the content conversational
- Watch for engagement points and ask questions
- Presenting opportunities for them to agree or disagree so you can understand what they are thinking
This process usually takes time—be patient and stay at it. I’ve mentioned the four stages of online relationship building before, so please review this post if you’ve forgotten. Keep in mind that going viral is not the norm. Like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race when you build good connections over time.
As the connections between you and your potential customers form, at some point you may want to move a conversation with an individual offline. To do this, send a private message to follow up on an idea, or ask if it’s okay to have an explorative conversation about how you can support each other. If you’re given the nod, ask if they prefer to communicate via phone, Skype, Hangouts, etc.
What not to do: It is imperative your first direct contact is not a straight-up sales pitch. I have found, especially on LinkedIn, that I receive many inappropriate personal messages that basically say, “We share a group and here is what I am selling,” or, “Please use this scheduling link to book time with me.” These messages do not work. In fact, they are turn-offs. You want to serve, not sell, at this beginning stage.
The right approach: When you send the initial message to begin deepening your relationship, ask a lot of questions to help you understand what they do and how you and your connections can support their businesses or careers. You may even use a script that you prepared. Keep this conversation short and to the point. Follow up with a thank you.
Give first before asking. Contribute relevant and quality resources, and then ask them to share an opportunity with their communities that benefits you. This is where reciprocity comes into play. I give, you give back. Here is a fun article about how one piece of candy on your restaurant check increases the tip amount from 15.1% to 17.8%, and three pieces of candy increase the tip amount from 19% to 21.6%.
What can you give right now that will deepen your engagements with your connections? My advice is to improve relationships with the connections you already have instead of chasing after more. What strategy will you use to filter real business potentials from the mass of followers you have?