Selling Skills

How to use social media as a prospecting tool: No more cold calling!

Cold calling. Even the name is, well, cold. Social media, however, provides an opportunity to warm relationships and understand needs so that you don’t have to break the ice or ever get the cold shoulder again. (Chill… I’ll stop with the “cold” expressions now.) Here is a simple process:

Step one: Set your privacy settings! Social media can be used for personal or professional purposes but it’s hard to use it for both. It’s possible to have more than one address but when prospects google you, they’ll most likely be directed to all your social profiles. Set those privacy settings and get a new username. Remember the photos other people can post…

Step two: Search sites for contacts you’d like to make and people you’d like to learn from. One group of prospects for me, for instance, is meeting professionals. I search “meeting planner” and other keywords and find out who the people I respect are following. Then, I follow them too. I don’t expect them to follow me back. I know though, that they’ll see my follow, and at least become aware of who I am. Even more important, I learn what matters to them by reading what they’re saying.

Step three: After learning what matters to your target audience, tweet, post and publish tips, insights and information that might be of interest to them. Eagerly retweet (RT) information. Earn the right to advance by becoming known for the quality and value of the information you post.

Step four: Don’t break the rules. Selling or promoting your services on discussions and forums is more than frowned upon. Last week, Russ Williams, LA Examiner reporter wrote an article about how writing well helps social media connections. He based the article on  my book, Power Sales Writing.  I changed his title, Using the web for selling, pitching, spinning and plain old profit, to a question (Do you use the web to sell, …) and posted the article to various social networking communities I belong to. I even wrote a note after the title saying (In the interest of transparency, this author references my book.) And one group moderator pulled my post and chastised me, saying the group was not to be used for self-promotion.  I’m lucky she didn’t throw me out of the group.

Prospecting with social media really is the same as prospecting has always been. Just warmer. Unless you act like a jerk.