Business owners are always looking for the greatest payoff for the lowest buy-in.
Virtually every business owner can tell me where they were and what they were doing when news of the economic crash swept our nation in 2008. After examining all of our options, we rebuilt our business without spending one dime on advertising. Our success came out of designing a high-touch, no-pitch, relationship-oriented process for Linkedin & Facebook.
We began by examining the purpose of social media. It has never been to make unwelcomed pitches. The purpose of social media is to build relationships.
Every day, millions of users try to bend social media to their wills by using the platforms to send out spam and make pitches. In this context, they are doing more harm than good. Many of us remember when someone takes up precious time to pitch something we don’t need or want. After a while, we see a name and move on quickly.
Then, there are connection collectors. Every day, millions of LinkedIn get connection requests, we accept them, and never hear from the person again. If the purpose of social media is to build relationships, this seems like a bad use of one’s time.
When we took the strength of social media and combined them with consultative sales principles, everything changed. It became clear we would have to develop a process that fits our brand, which is profound, effective, and high-touch. Unfortunately, we could not find any guidance on LinkedIn or Facebook on how to do this. The platforms don’t help us understand how to develop relationships with the people who can bring the greatest value into our businesses as well as our lives.
So, we started from scratch. Our design began with the truth that I learned from consultative sales. Human beings are hard-wired to be able to think about something other than themselves for a maximum of 15-seconds. This is why pitch selling has become so unwelcome. Today, the highest form of business development takes place when we are totally focused on the prospects’ needs and expectations. The dynamic is especially important when we are intruding.
From the moment that we are born, we are intruding! The highest form of sales and business development processes look for the most responsible ways we can intrude and actually connect. It is always a good idea to focus on their needs and expectations. It is also a good idea to practice good old-fashioned manners. Rather than pitching ourselves, let’s focus on how we can make that person’s life or business better. It is also good to right-size every interaction.
Our outreach begins with a simple note to someone we would like to know. There isn’t anything in our message about selling our services. We sincerely come from a place of working towards relationships. Therefore, the initial message takes about ten seconds to read. It is friendly, welcoming and respectful. Many of the contacts accept the connection. When we respond, we don’t shower them with services. We shower them with kindness. We want to learn more. We right-size expectations. For example, “Perhaps this would be a good time to have an introductory chat for 5-15 minutes. No pitches. Let’s just break bread.”
Sometimes, a new connection will be so wary because they are so used to hidden agendas. But, there is no agenda. It is to connect and see if there is a reason to give the new friendship some attention and energy. That’s all. In some cases, the first conversation is also the last. But, in others, we find a new friend, connection, business associate, strategic partner, a great source of business intelligence, referral sources, a mentor, or even a new employee.
I use all of these categories because we have found thousands of different connections that eventually fall into one of these categories. Does it work? Social media is our #1 source of new business. I would not have believed this because we get tremendous referrals from our graduates. In addition to new business, I have rebuilt my publishing career, developed a wide range of new friends, there are several mentors who are changing my life as we speak.
Today, she is a trusted and highly valued business colleague. It began by breaking bread with one person.
A few years ago, I was having breakfast with Jess Todtfeld, who is a brilliant consultant out of New York. He provides presentation skills and media training to select clients. Dr. Mary Campbell was at the table. Our relationship began at USC where she led talent for over 25,000 employees. There was David Yudis, a brilliant executive develop coach that I met at Disney. At one point, Mary said, “This is all so easy and wonderful. How did we get together?” I responded, “Social networking. We found each other through LinkedIn.’ I had accepted a connection request from one of Mary’s direct reports. This was followed with a suggestion we schedule a few minutes on the phone to “break bread.” It wasn’t long that we were bringing employee engagement programs to USC. After 15 years, Mary decided to launch her own business. Today, she is a trusted and highly valued business colleague. It began by breaking bread with one person.
We help people learn how to build one-on-one relationships with the connections that will have the greatest impact on their business. That is intimate work. As they master the process, we suggest they start building a relationship with the markets.
There are a multitude of reasons to build presence on social media. For example, today, it is difficult to develop any traction on the crowded Internet without a digital content strategy. Many of our clients don’t really want to become publishers. But, they don’t have to. We give them tools that help them become original content rock stars. But, they have other guidelines on how to curate content that comes from other sources. I think of a CEO who travels the world speaking at business conferences. Everywhere she goes, people come up and say they love her posts. She doesn’t write a word nor and she outsources media placement. We simply gave the digital coordinator a brand strategy to select quotes and articles that convey a consistent message.
I’m not going to give our readers a 4-week course on a single blog without charge! But, what I hope you will consider is that social media has the power to turn your business and career into powerhouses. The outcome can be transformative.
We drag people off of the stage at award shows. Why do they spend so much time giving out gratitude and praise? Every person that has attained the success to merit such an award has gotten to that podium because of their support systems. Many people don’t define what they really want to do with their lives because they don’t believe the right people will help them. Once we define exactly what we want to do with our lives, our success is purely based on the quality of help we can find.
Networking groups and social clubs are OK. But, if you want explosive growth, learn how to use social media in ways that produce friends, goodwill, interest, collaboration, and value. Instead of reaching out to mediocre connections, reach out to the ones that could change everything! One of my closest friends and colleagues is Linda Sivertsen, commonly referred to as the “book whisperer.” When she came through our program, Linda made a commitment to help other women become successful authors. Thus far, she has shepherded over 20 bestsellers. Linda points out that editors in the biggest publishing houses are waiting for that call, the one that will turn into a bestseller, the book that will start a revolution, they want that call. The same can be said for my readers. All of you have dreams and ambitions. Many of you aspire to change the world. You want to be successful. That success is directly linked to the quality of the people you build into your circle.
Don’t take up people’s time with sales pitches. Find the people you most want to know. Love them. Practice good manner. Be helpful. If you feel you are wasting someone’s time, don’t make the call!
Go find the people you want in your lives. Don’t treat them like prospects. Treat each one as a person you want in your life and your business. Get to know them. Be helpful. Be kind.
Soon, you will turn around and see that an entirely new world is at your disposal, simply because you have become a very good friend to have.