By Amanda Wynne
Social selling continues to be all the rage — and it wouldn’t stay popular if it weren’t effective. But that doesn’t mean that every approach to social selling is the right one. I’m sure you’ve received your fair share of LinkedIn requests and Twitter follows from people you didn’t know. People that may not be offering value or trying to understand your needs, but just go for the hard sale. That’s not real social selling.
Great networking is the gold standard for social selling. It’s all about building a network of people that value you and you value. A network with true two-way contributions where you give as much as you get. A great network can help you sell more and maybe even get your next position. But how can you supercharge your network? Here are a few tips on how to get there:
Be an Expert
Everyone wants to be around the expert. The person that knows the inside scoop and has (at least some of) the answers. And the funny thing about experts is that we all are experts to some degree. It’s just that some people that have expertise aren’t willing or able to share it publicly. Don’t be that person.
Get out there and share what you know. Speak at events. Write blog posts. Do short form video. There are so many options for people to spread their knowledge — even for those that don’t like the stage. When you’re out there with your expertise, the number of people — including influential people — that want to connect, or are open to connecting, multiplies. That’s a major win for your network.
Be In Person
Sure, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks provide a convenient way to connect with other professionals. And it makes it easier to stay on top of relationships and keep them informed of your updates. But there relationships that begin in person are the strongest. How do you cultivate those?
Of course relationships generated through work and your home life are critical. Yet, there’s another way to build relationships and that’s through your extended professional life. You might attend local meet-ups for your profession or market. You could attend conferences — both national and local — to hear speakers and connect with like-minded individuals.
Also consider other ways to give back to your community and extend your network. For instance, look at volunteering for a local agency or even for the local meet-up. You can enrich yourself, your community, and your network all in one action.
Give To Others
Gary V. wrote a book called the Thank You Economy. In it he identified a key attribute of successful entrepreneurs and business people. That is, the willingness to be caring and to give to others. That means not giving only because you are about to ask for something. It means starting the positive trend first by selflessly giving value.
The value that you give could be your time or expertise for example. When you know someone is out of work, don’t expect them to call on you for help. Give it. When you see that a business may be struggling, offer help. Get in there and give to others without the expectation of anything in return.
Deep relationships are a valuable commodity. Don’t lock them up — share your network with your network. I love to get emails from friends and connections that want to play ‘professional matchmaker’. They know that myself and another would hit it off, or have a productive engagement, or whatever. So, drop a note and make a connection when you think two people that aren’t connected just ought to be.
Go back to your social networks and look for potential matches. Or, notice when others have significant changes in their network. Maybe a colleague mentions that they are looking to revamp their website. Don’t wait for them to ask for recommended partners. Ask if they need a suggestion. Be proactive on making connections.
Use That Investment
When it’s time for you seek help from your network, don’t be afraid to ask. Too many people don’t want to impose on their friends and colleagues. But it’s not an imposition at all. If you’ve been adding value to your network over time — by connecting people, contributing content, and volunteering to help — then all you’re doing is making a withdrawal on an investment you’ve made.
Your network is critical for accelerating your career. Odds are it’s where your next role will come from. It’s where you’ll get insight to make a great business decision. So invest in by giving to your network. And when it’s your turn to get support, ask for it!
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