As many of you know, one of my social networking strategies is to transition at least 5 of my “virtual” relationships to “real” time each week. Needless to say, the relationship is worth more, once I move it off the computer screen.
I thought it might be helpful if I shared with you how I do this.
Let’s start with a quick statement of what I don’t do.
“The Linkedin Two Step”: This is when you’ve either agreed to connect with me or you commented on one of my posts and I take that as a buying signal. You immediately get an email from me in “Pimpmaster” mode giving you my best infomercial.
And just to get this one out in the open, I don’t like to have a virtual handshake with someone and immediately suggest a phone call. I’m sure its just me but that has way too much of a “Hi, Wanna screw?” vibe to it!
So What’s An Aspiring Linkedin Rock Star To Do?
1) Get Social From “Hello” I never send someone one of those invitation templates. Seriously, could you get any F’n lazier. Take the 30 seconds and write a two sentence note. This positions you as different from the get go because apparently the rest of the world has gotten lazy too. When someone sends you an invite, take a minute to write an actual response (even when you get a template invite) Doing this inspires someone to not only remember you, but shoot you a note back. At that point you’re starting to get “social” and that puts you one step closer to real time!
2) Get On Their Radar Screen: Update your status update daily (no play by play por favor) More importantly than your status update is theirs. You might want to circle this next sentence: Everyone has a story and wants to be heard. Seems like we’ve all gotten used to the world not having the time to hear what we have to say. That aint how Uncle Paul rolls! I make it a point to comment on status updates where appropriate. Sometimes I’m congratulating someone, other times I will agree with a statement publicly, if they shared a resource that I found useful, I let them know with a “like” and a comment. You can also get on their radar screen by commenting on their discussions. How about inviting them into one of yours? If they contribute to one of your discussions, acknowledge them publicly and with an offline “thank you”. Here’s a freakin cool idea: When you see a discussion where someone in your network has the expertise to really shine, hook them up! I have this odd feeling that people really dig people who have their best interests in mind!
3) Take Advantage Of “Social” Clues: I make it a point to see if my contacts use the amazon.com feature where they list what they are reading. If I read the book or want to, that gives us something to talk about. If they use the tripit feature, I might wish them a safe trip or get real jealous that they are off to Europe. I might even compare notes with them about cool places we’ve both been to!
OK, I could go on and on about how to get “Social” but I still haven’t told you how to transition.
Once we’ve had some communication, I will do one of a few things:
– Shoot them a quick email, suggesting a brief “get to know you” call. I tell them I would like to find out more about them and their business. Note: When I get on the phone with them, I rarely talk about my business which is rather counterintuitive for a sales professional. I don’t talk about my business because quite frankly, most people as so busy trying to network their business that they aren’t ready to hear about mine. I could get ultra competitive and try to dominate our conversation, but it kind of goes back to my statement earlier “everyone has a story and wants to be heard” My mission on this phone call is to not only understand my “friend” its to think about how I can be a “matchmaker” for this person and leverage my network.
– Get Embarrassed. Sometimes I will send someone an email telling them that I’m embarrassed that I haven’t reached out sooner. Note: Doesn’t work so well if they just accepted your invite 10 mins earlier! 🙂
– When someone asks you a question via email, suggest a quick call instead. Nice way to move it to real time girlfriend!
– I’ll use tripit to see if anyone is visiting my area and offer to meet for coffee or a shots of Tequila (wanted to see if you were paying attention)
– I’ll search my network for local contacts when traveling. The “I’m visiting your neck of the woods” thing is an easy way to transition.
– I host “Virtual Mixers” once to twice a month.
So how long should this all take? Well let me ask you this. In a relationship, how long does it take for love to happen? Is it the 7th date, 7th week, 7th year? Why the hell don’t we have a definitive answer? Probably, because it happens, when it happens.
Don’t screw with the sanctity of social networking by thinking this is a short term strategy. Take the time to get “social” and actually have a courtship and then watch how freakin cool the marriage becomes.
So, how do you transition your online relationships?
Paul Castain works with organizations and individuals to achieve higher levels of performance. He is so good that he was granted permission to talk about himself in the 3rd person. For more information on how Paul can help you and your company click here dude.