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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

We have a mantra at Digital Leadership Associates. Sell through your network, not to your network. What we mean by this is that you want to move your personal brand, content, sales story as far away from you as possible so that you can be found. 

How do you do this? Through your the network of your network. This is done through likes, comments, shares, retweets and so on. The bigger your network, the bigger your network of opportunity. 

Research shows that 80% plus of b2b purchasing journeys start with a referral. This works typically in 2 ways :

1) Traditional one to one referral – Bob can you recommend someone to help me with something. Of course, I suggest you talk to Sally at ABC Ltd, she and her team are brilliant – and then off you go starting to validate what Bob has said about Sally and her team.

2) you are a recognised thought leader in your field, you spoke at event and have well written content, which is shared widely, by peers of your current clients in your target market – I saw this, read this, heard you speak and would like to find out more.

Both scenarios 1 & 2 demonstrate that the buyer has already moved from 0% on their “self guided” buying journey and are showing “intent”. 

If we take scenario 1, which is the traditional 121 referral, it will likely play out with you doing more research on Sally and ABC limited, who else is she connected to, how trusted is that network in terms of overlap, do other people back up Bob’s comments. Is she known to others in your organisation. Has anyone else in your organisation worked with ABC Limited before? What can I find online about them. Will you look like a fool if you recommend them to the wider buying community. Who are their competitors, what do other people say about them? Is there an overlap of networks. And so the due diligence process starts in earnest. 

Scenario 2 will play out in a similar manner. Ideally you want to be working with both. The traditional referral and the inbound referral generated by your personal brand and 3rd party validation. Think Amazon 4 star rating or Trip Advisor reviews. 

The key to all of this is your network and activating it to work for you and with you. The way you do this is through a) connecting to all of your clients, both decisions makers and influencers AND all of your prospects if you have had that first meeting. Follow influencers and thought leaders in your industry and the industry you sell into. Pull yourself into their conversations so their networks can see you. 

Think of your network as huge net which you are spreading out over your digital marketplace. Each click, like, share, commment or retweet is doing two things. It will start to validate your content and by proxy you. It will start to show you the intent of your market. Brian Solis refers to this as Return on Influence. You can have 1000 followers or connections, but if you have no engagement you have no influence. Someone else may have 500 followers or connections, if they get regular engagement, they will have more influence. And more importantly, their personal brand will be

moving through other networks beyond their own. 

You therefore need to start thinking about 

  1. How connected are you?
  2. How relevant is my trusted network to a potential client?
  3. Are you activating your network with good content

Remember, you are selling through your network, not to your network.

Inspired by Tim Hughes & Adam Gray

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