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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Social Networks

By Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

Ever since I started in work some 25 years ago I’ve been creating networks. In the early days that meant a folder that I put business cards in, my paper diaries, the people I met, my friends and my family.

Networks are so important.  Take my 80-year-old mother. While the family look after her, she has a network of friends she can call upon.  Somebody to take her to the hospital for that blood test or a GP appointment.

The people we were at university with, the people at our first job, second job, etc. We all form a common bound that we can take forward in life.

Let’s stick together

The problem I had with the books of business cards was that people move from job to job.  Wouldn’t it be great if the details were on the internet? You could access them at any time as contacts and friends update their details. Enter LinkedIn, stage left.

It’s worth stating that real connection is not just someone we follow on social media, but don’t actually know.  It’s somebody who can we can call up and say, I’m in town, let’s get together and have a coffee.  To be honest, we don’t need this type of lightweight social connection, it has little currency.

In our training here at Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) we explain the power of the network and show that most people have 20 or so connections they can call upon.  The trick is not to have 30,000 connections that don’t know you.  But a solid network who know you, and trust you!

Why does social networking matter?

Because, when people buy, they will turn to the people they know and trust first of all.  There is an old saying “people buy people”, and they do.

When I started at work, you would give somebody a business card, but did anything happen?  Not really, somebody can take your business card and then put it in the bin.  Like asking for a brochure, it’s a way to get rid of a sales person without hurting their feelings.  The salesperson gives the brochure as they feel they are not being rejected, when in fact they are.

“Brochures are lazy selling” as my business partner Adam Gray says.

Picture this.  You are going to a networking event.  You walk in and find the tea and coffee stand.  What do you do?  Stand there and shout about your products and services and the fact it’s the end of the quarter and you have 30% off. 

No, partly because somebody will call security.  Instead you get a tea or a coffee and go up to somebody and have a conversation.  ‘Have you travelled far?”, “Who do you know?”. We ask questions until we find a common bond.  Maybe we both went to the same university, maybe my mother lives in the same place as where you went to university.  Maybe we support the same football team.

This common connection (and all salespeople do it) enables rapport.

Networking at your fingertips

Now wouldn’t be great to have a list of all the people who went to your university, the people who used to work at your company, people who use the same product that you sell or even a list of the people who use your competitor product? 

Which brings us back to LinkedIn, networking at your fingertips.

So, there you have it.  Whether you are a big company or small, the power of the network and the ability to connect to common people just like you are there for the taking.  And remember, these are the people who might well buy your product and service.  On-line and at scale.

There is an old Chinese saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time to plant a tree is now”.

Don’t miss out on the power of LinkedIn!

Digital Leadership Associates: We are Global Social Media Management Consultancy. We do three things: Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email or call one of our founders on 00 44 7823 534 557 and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

 

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