Real World Social Media 101
I (very) recently attended the inaugural Bloggers International event which was a great success. One of the take aways for me was a sense of how these new tools can intimidate people, they remain foreign because they appear to be confusing.
As I drove back to Dublin, I started to think about my own introduction to the online world and how it took me some time to grasp what I was dealing with.
I’d come from a place where business was about making the hard yards. I started as a door to door salesperson, progressing to mid level sales management, then getting my teeth into more strategic level management before eventually launched my own business.
It was a steep learning curve and I survived it because of an appetite for hard work and an ability to pick myself up of the floor every now and then.
Mine was a results business: Sales equals business! The figures don’t lie, you could of course try to spin it but the reality was it was really that black and white. You succeeded or failed in your ability to hit targets.
Bang! Then Social Media just broke all the rules?
When I was introduced to social media for the first time, I was pretty sure I was been sold a pup.
This newfangled thing that was about making business easy and none of the old rules need no longer apply.
Yeah right I thought! I engaged cautiously and decided that there was no way I was prepared to forget what I knew to be true. I was a salesman, good sales is about great measurement and I was going to measure this social media hard.
Social Media success relies on measuring your efforts
I read the experts, I begin to practice what they preached and waited for something to happen, it didn’t! Maybe I was doing it wrong I thought, so I reached out online and asked for help, people responded, and lots of them.
They helped me, they liked me, and I made some new friends?…This reminded me of another old rule of business I’d known to be true.
Social media ia about building relationships, more relationships equals more business
I had my first breakthrough, a get it moment! Hold on here I thought! I’m good with people in fact I’m really good with people.
Social Media is about focusing on people, not on technology!
I knew that people formed business relationships with me because I offered them value and I helped their businesses.
Why couldn’t I do the same thing online? Only this time round others would see, they would have an opportunity to know me, to even trust me a little before we’d even spoken.
I could leverage my strengths in the one to one environment but now reach more than one person. I’d never really understood marketing before but this struck as a great way to market myself.
Social Media is about marketing that’s unique to your customers
All that I needed now was a strategy to target the right people. I had to create a reason and a place for the right people to hang out, my prospects and then engage with them in a meaningful way so that I could develop a relationship.
I looked around and realised that virtually none of my competitors had copped on; they were way too busy pitching and telling everyone how wonderful they were.
I created my very first linkedIn group called “Sales Leadership Ireland”. I was an Irish sales management consultant and I wanted to “help Irish sales people network and discuss all things related to selling in and from Ireland”
Social Media is about creating and maintaining community
It worked, people joined and they begin to talk about their problems. I tried hard to promote conversation:
- Through asking questions
- By responding to questions
- Through offering tips, advice and opinion
- But mostly I just listened
I knew from my sales days that the best way to become aware of opportunities was simply to listen.
Social Media is about engaging and listening
I realised that not everyone was going to bear the soul of their business online, but would perhaps instead give me hints as to problems they may be experiencing. I needed to be able to read between the lines and have them trust me enough so that I could take our online connection to an offline relationship.
Social Media is REAL, because it is real world
While most business may continue to happen at the one to one level, in the boardrooms and offices – I could see how these two worlds were now merging into one another. They were inter-connected, complimentary and coming to depend on the other. Smart business people would come to learn to spend their business life in both.
So the next time that you are confused or unsure, remember this is not really about Facebook or Twitter. This is about people and if you know about people, social media will be the easy bit
Thank you for reading,