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Networking in Business Beyond Social Media

The explosion of social media has expanded our sphere of influence and connections to the farthest parts of the world. We’re able to do business with anyone in any country with the click of a button and a twist of the mouse. PayPal has made it possible to receive payment and pay our vendors within minutes.

Social media has allowed me to do business with pro athletes I would never have crossed paths with in a million years. Through LinkedIn and Facebook, I’ve been able to build rapport and long-lasting business relationships with my target market. Many are now clients and friends. But, how do you cross the border from a first contact via social media into relationship building and marketing? After all, it takes more than just a few emails to garner the ‘know, like, and trust’ dynamic that brings business your way.

Here are five easy steps that will move you beyond making that initial contact and into a solid relationship with your potential clients:

1. “Smile when you say that.”

When you’re talking to a potential client on the phone, stand up and smile. It shows through the call and in your personality. No need to be a ‘smiling fool’ who slobbers nervous laughter at every turn. A natural smile will not only help you enjoy your calls more, it’ll translate into receptive potential customers. In fact, try it when you first wake up in the morning – I do it every day and it sets a good tone for the day.

2. Genuinely compliment your potential client.

Find something about their business or them personally that you can applaud them for. This is not buttering up; it’s simply showing interest in their story and seeking the good where it can be found – and it can always be found. I always try to find something on their website that I can make a favorable comment about.

3. Find common ground.

I have found this very effective for building a personal relationship with my clients. No life story needs to be shared; just find something that you can relate with them in life and let them see your human side. If I sense a vendor, potential client, or business associate wants to keep it all business all the time; I still find ways to interject something personal, even if it’s just a personal food or movie preference within the context of the conversation.

4. Provide a specific action step.

It could be that you want the potential client to send you a sample of their new website or a piece of their marketing material so you can review it. Tell them so and repeat it a couple of times. The same goes if you’re going to send them a quote or one of your articles – tell them more than once what you will do.

5. Expect to win new clients in abundance.

Any athlete will tell you that they go into every game expecting to win. Top achievers in any business also expect to win. As a person who’s building relationships through social media and beyond, you must expect every phone call, every email…every contact to produce something worthwhile.

When you put yourself on the front line every day, making contacts and building relationships, good things begin to happen. You might not gain a client every, single time but the people you’re speaking to know people who may need your product or service. So, in review, social media provides a jumping off platform to make initial contacts. Common sense social skills provide the game plan to develop those contacts into clients.

Share your own story for the most effective ways you’ve moved beyond social media and made solid connections with potential clients.

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2 Responses to Networking in Business Beyond Social Media

  1. ShayMLawson December 28, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Great article Michelle!

    I’ve been able to make some solid connections on twitter and via LinkedIn. My twitter connections have all begun as back and forth chatter on tweets that have caught my eye or were relevant. Later on I may have thought of a great business opportunity for that person or involving both myself and that person and reached out via DM. Reaching out via DM means two things 1. I have built report with the person such that they have followed me back; and 2. It is discreet and demonstrates that I’m not trying to showcase my relationship or this potential business on the public timeline but that I am really serious about making the connection with the client.

    My connections via LinkedIn have been critical in facilitating immediate meetings with clients I was interested in building relationships with. By having a complete profile on LinkedIn the person could see my credentials, who I knew, the groups I am involved with and this kind of information builds a type of comfort in taking a face to face meeting that other social networking sites don’t provide.

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